The field of 64 has been trimmed to eight in the DII men’s basketball championship. After three exciting rounds of NCAA DII tournament action, the men’s Elite Eight are heading to Evansville, Indiana for a chance at the national championship.
It’s a pretty solid field, as six No. 1 seeds advanced. Let’s take a look at each team in the DII men’s Elite Eight.
Mercyhurst (No. 4 seed, Atlantic Region): Welcome to the Elite Eight. The Lakers tied their program record for wins in a season in an impressive victory, upsetting a No. 2 West Liberty team that scored over 100 points per game by holding them to 70, their lowest output of the season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Lakers are built on defense, with the best scoring defense in the PSAC and second in DII, allowing a paltry 60.9 points per night. This marks the fifth straight season a different Atlantic Region champ advanced to the quarterfinals.
Northwest Missouri State (No. 1 seed, Central Region): Lose one of the MIAA’s all-time leading scorers? Check. Lose three senior starters responsible for 62 wins and a national championship over the past two seasons? Check. Have everybody think you may take a step backward, but then run off a perfect 35-0 record to the Elite Eight with four new everyday starters in your lineup? Check. This Bearcats team is an unbelievable story all by itself, and arguably deeper and better-prepared for a title run than the 35-1 2017 national championship squad.
TRACK THE BEARCATS RUN: How far will Northwest Missouri State go?
Saint Anselm (No. 1 seed, East Region): The Hawks are making their long-awaited return to the DII Elite Eight, last making it this far during the 2000 season. Saint Anselm made a unique bit of history with its win Tuesday night. The Hawks joined the women’s team in the Elite Eight, making the school the first East Region program to send both squads this far in the same season.
Southern Indiana (No. 4 seed, Midwest Region): Root, root, root for the home team. The Screaming Eagles upset both No. 1 Lewis and No. 2 Bellarmine to get to the Elite Eight in their home city. The story here, however, is Alex Stein. The senior has scored over 2,100 points in his illustrious DII career, but his start goes back further than that. Stein’s father, Rick, has been the women’s basketball coach for 20 years, and Alex has practically grown up around Southern Indiana basketball courts. He now has a chance to close his career out playing for the title as a hometown hero.
Nova Southeastern (No. 1 seed, South Region): Despite the national poll not even having the Sharks in the preseason top 25, we called them a top 10 team entering the season. Nova Southeastern’s arrival in the Elite Eight is a remarkable story. Not only is it the program’s first trip to the quarterfinals, it was the first trip to the NCAA tournament. We’ve spoken in depth about how Jim Crutchfield came to Fort Lauderdale, Florida two years ago and turned a 6-win team into a 17-win team overnight. Just one year later, he has them knocking on the door of a national championship.
Queens (NC) (No. 1 seed, Southeast Region): The Royals are similar to the Bearcats in that this season was supposed to be a rebuild after they too lost some important seniors. Queens returns to the Elite Eight one year after making the national semifinals, where they lost 105-99 to Northern State. Ike Agusi, Jalin Alexander, Mike Davis, and Todd Withers scored 59 of those points, and pulled down 19 total rebounds. They're all gone, but Mr. Double-Double Shaun Willett stepped up and led this team back to the quarterfinals. The DII basketball leader in double-doubles had a monster regional championship game against Augusta, going for 33 and 13.
West Texas A&M (No. 1 seed, South Central Region): Like Queens, the Buffs return to the Elite Eight for the second-straight season. Last year, they were led by David Chavlovich, the Lone Star Conference’s all-time leading scorer and 3-point shooter. While West Texas A&M had savvy veterans like Ryan Quaid and Gach Gach to step in, it's been the Buffs dynamic duo of freshmen that helped the Buffs not miss a beat. Qua Grant earned LSC freshman of the year honors with a historic season in Canyon, while Joel Murray led the team in assists and steals, all while chipping in 433 points.
Point Loma (No. 1 seed, West Region): The Sea Lions are another team making their Elite Eight debut. If Point Loma’s nickname doesn’t have you intrigued, how about the history its team is making this season. The Sea Lions are the first Point Loma program in the NCAA DII era to win a West Region title. This is the closest a Point Loma team has been to a championship, and you can be sure Daulton Hommes wants it more than anyone. His journey to the Elite Eight has been a long one, missing his final two years of high school to ACL injuries, to earning All-GNAC honors at Western Washington, to now being named the Regional Player of the Year during Point Loma’s historic run.