KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande men’s basketball team defeated one team from the state of Indiana en route to reaching the finals of the River States Conference Tournament.
The RedStorm will have to knock off two more for the chance to play in Kansas City.
Rio Grande will face Indiana University South Bend in the Opening Round of the NAIA Men’s Basketball Championship on Friday, March 12, as part of the Marion B Bracket at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind.
The pairings for the opening round of the 48-team tournament were announced by the NAIA national office on Thursday night.
The RedStorm (16-9), the No. 3 seed in the three-team bracket, advanced to the tournament for the first time since 2003 as the RSC Tournament runner-up. West Virginia University-Tech defeated first-year head coach Ryan Arrowood’s squad, 75-60, in Tuesday night’s conference title game.
IU South Bend, which is seeded second in the bracket, captured its second consecutive Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament crown on Monday night with a buzzer-beating 76-75 triumph at Olivet Nazarene. The Titans are 6-0 this season, with four of those wins coming in their conference tournament.
Friday’s winner will advance to the bracket championship on Saturday to meet top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan. The top-ranked Wildcats (29-2) won the Crossroads League championship, but had a 12-game winning streak snapped in a 106-79 loss to the Univ. of Saint Francis (Ind.) in the semifinal round of the conference tournament.
Game times for either game were not immediately announced.
The winner of Saturday’s game will be one of the 16 teams advance to the tournament’s final site — Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. — for play which begins on March 18 and concludes with the NAIA national championship game.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.