EIGHT AMC TEAMS QUALIFY FOR NAIA DIVISION I NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Basketball - Wed, Mar. 8, 2017
ST. LOUIS – Wednesday evening proved to be a very fruitful evening for the American Midwest Conference (AMC) when the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced the 32 qualifiers for the men's and women's National Championships, which will be contested in Kansas City, Mo. and Billings, Mont., respectively, from March 15-21. The AMC garnered eight total bids – five into the women's National Championship, and three into the men's. The eight total qualifiers are the most for any conference which does not have a host bid to either Championship.
The NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship will be contested in a new location for the third time in the last six seasons, taking up residence at Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park in Billings, marking the first time ever that the Championship has been staged west of Kansas City.
The unbeaten Freed-Hardeman University Lady Lions (33-0) earned the top overall seed following their thrilling win in the AMC Championship title game on Monday night over Lyon College. The Lady Lions will open tournament play at 8 p.m. Mountain Time (9 p.m. CDT) on Wednesday evening against the Championship Host Rocky Mountain College Battlin' Bears (13-18) in the Naismith Bracket. The Lady Lions are the only undefeated team in the bracket, and the Battlin' Bears are the only team below .500 in the field.
Columbia College (26-6) finds themselves as the number three seed in the Cramer Bracket, where they will open the Championship against another Frontier Conference opponent – the University of Montana-Western Bulldogs (23-8). The game will immediately precede the Freed-Hardeman game on Wednesday, with tip-off slated for 5:45 p.m. MDT.
The other three AMC teams in the women's field will tip-off on Thursday. In the Duer Bracket, third-seeded Lyon (27-5) will take on the University of Pikeville Bears (21-10) at 9 a.m. MDT, and in the Liston Bracket, William Woods University (20-11) – the final team to make it into the field – will battle the Shawnee State University Bears (31-2) at 4:30 p.m., and the seventh-seeded Lindenwood University-Belleville Lady Lynx (22-9) will play the final game on the first round at 9:45 p.m. MDT against Vanguard University (27-3).
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the 80th Annual Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championship will feature a trio of AMC squads.
Columbia (26-5) will be the second seed in the Naismith Bracket, and at 2:15 CDT on Thursday, the Cougars will tip-off their tournament against the seventh-seeded Lewis-Clark State College Warriors (23-10). The Cougars qualified as the AMC Regular Season Champion, and the AMC Championship winners, the Harris-Stowe State University Hornets (19-12) will also open up on Thursday. The Hornets were slotted in as the number-8 seed in the Liston Bracket, where they will meet up with the Roadrunners of Dalton State College (27-4). The AMC's lone at-large qualifier on the men's side won't have far to travel. The Park University Pirates (21-7) will take to the court to open their tournament on Wednesday afternoon at 6:30 p.m. against the Georgetown (Ky.) College Tigers (23-7).
The first 30 games of each Championship will be streamed live on the NAIA Network – the Association's official streaming home – while both Championship finals will be broadcast on ESPN 3. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access to live video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament package is available at $29.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.