PIKEVILLE, Ky. – In its eighth trip to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, the University of Pikeville is the No. 2 seed and plays Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) in the first round at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 20 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
This is the Lynx first season as a member of the NAIA, they spent the previous four seasons as part of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Lindenwood-Belleville (22-8) qualified for the championship as the No. 14 at-large selection after losing to Life (Ga.) 99-85 in the first round of the A.I.I. Conference Tournament.
Craig Anderson leads the Lynx in scoring at 21.4 points per game, while Tyrin Wade chips in with 13.7. Wade and Garrett Gaffner are the team’s leading rebounders, grabbing 8.3 per contest. Rebounding is where Lindenwood-Belleville excels, leading the NAIA in boards per game at 45.2. The Lynx are also 11th nationally in field-goal defense, allowing teams to shoot just 41 percent.
Campbellsville (Ky.) and Life are the common opponents between the Bears and Lynx. Lindenwood-Belleville beat the Tigers twice, including 79-76 on the road on Feb. 24. UPIKE also beat Campbellsville twice and split a pair of games against Life.
Pikeville is 8-7 all time at the NAIA National Championship, including a 2-4 mark in first-round action.
It’s been a record-breaking season at Pikeville, the accolades include: Breaking the Mid-South Conference record for wins with 17, winning the league by the widest winning margin at six games, capturing both the MSC Regular-Season and Tournament Championships for the first time since 2001 and winning a program-record 27 games during the regular season.
The winner between the Bears and Lynx will face either No. 15 Wiley (Texas) or St. Gregory’s (Okla.) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March. 21.