The Ouachita Baptist University Tigers were selected as the seventh seed for the Central Region of the 2016 Division II Men's Basketball Championship tournament and face the Northwest Missouri University Bearcats at Augustana University's Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The Tigers (19-13) face the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular season championship and defeated Nebraska-Kearney 61-53 to win the MIAA conference tournament. Ouachita Baptist defeated Harding 72-56 to win the Great American Conference tournament championship after finishing third in the regular season.
"This is a compliment for our team to get to play in the regionals," Ouachita Baptist University head basketball coach Dennis Nutt said. "We are excited about getting the chance to go. We've had a great weekend and we are playing extremely well. This is just an added bonus."
Senior Tigers, Tirrell Brown and David Berete have shouldered the load in the tournament wins over Southern Nazarene, East Central University and Harding.
"I proud of our seniors," Nutt said. "It is nice to see in their senior year, Tirrell and David are taking our team there."
This isn't the first appearance for Ouachita Baptist in a regional tournament. In 2008, the Tigers defeated Florida Southern 74-69 in the first round of the Division II national tournament before falling to North Alabama, 99-93 in overtime in the round of 32.
"When we won the tournament the last time, the conference was new and on a two-year probationary period, so we didn't get an invitation that year," Nutt said.
The Tigers first round opponent in the Central Region, Northwest Missouri, has made 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament and four times in the last seven years. The Bearcats are the number two seed in the tournament that runs through Tuesday, March 15. The National Championship Elite Eight will be held in Frisco, Texas, starting on March 23.
Northwest Missouri (25-5) has advanced to the Central Region championship game each of the past two seasons.
"They won their conference with a 19-3 record," Nutt said. "From watching them on film, they are a sound team with an excellent point guard in Justin Pitts."
Pitts was named the MIAA Player of the Year and earned first team All-MIAA honors.
"We are going to have our hands full with him," Nutt said. "And the rest of them are very good, so we are going to have to play at our best."
Augustana University earned the top seed and take on eighth-seeded Harding (20-10) at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Augustana (28-2) will be making its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Central Region is made up of teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference the Mid-America Athletic Association and the Great American Conference.
In the other games, MSU Moorhead (30-5) earned the third seed and will take on number six seed Minnesota State (21-9) at 12 p.m. Number four seed Nebraska-Kearney (20-11) and number five seed Fort Hays State (20-10) will play the final quarterfinal of the day at 8 p.m.
"We've had good practices this week getting prepared," said Nutt, who has some history in Sioux Falls with the minor league NBA basketball team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
"This is my old stomping grounds when I went I spent some time with the Sioux Falls Skyforce," Nutt said. "And they are still around."