Brace yourself. The stage is set for the grand finale of the 2018 DII men's basketball season.
None of last year's Elite Eight teams return, which means there will be a new champion in 2018. In fact, not a single team in the 2018 Men's Elite Eight has ever won a championship, so history will be made. How's that for intrigue?
#D2MBB #EliteEight begins with quarterfinal action on Tuesday, March 20 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.!— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) March 14, 2018
Watch all four games on https://t.co/LnUHsbapeb and the NCAA Sports App. #MakeItYours pic.twitter.com/6VmE5vsTCf
1) Ferris State is having a year of historic proportions. The Bulldogs hosted their first-ever Midwest Regional and took full advantage of it. Their 80-65 win over Findlay in the regional championship gets the Bulldogs back to their first Elite Eight since 1988. Ferris State, winners of 23 in a row, is not flashy but grind out wins. Zach Hankins is one of the premier big men in DII, averaging 15 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.
2) Queens (NC) went 31-3 this season. All three of those losses came to No. 1 Lincoln Memorial, including a 77-75 heartbreaker in the South Atlantic Conference championship. The Royals got their revenge when it mattered most, handing the No. 1 Railsplitters their second loss of the season in dominant fashion 69-57. This team is deep, with four starters that can drop double-digit points at will.
3) Talk about home court advantage. Though it is still a three-hour trek, Northern State brings its record-setting home crowd from Aberdeen, S.D. to Sioux Falls as the No. 3 seed. Wachs Arena has led both DII men’s and women’s basketball in attendance for nine years running, so you can be sure the Wolves faithful will pack out Sanford Pentagon as they look for a program-record 35th win.
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4) Meet David Chavlovich. West Texas A&M’s senior guard has scored 2,443 career points, the most in Lone Star Conference history and in the top 30 in DII history. He dropped 28 points in the in the South Central regional championship, getting the Buffs to their first Elite Eight in 20 years.
5) There are some nice NCAA coaching bloodlines in Syracuse, N.Y. Head coach Patrick Beilein, son of Michigan’s John Beilein, has the Le Moyne Dolphins in their first Elite Eight in program history. With Michigan getting ready as a three-seed for March Madness, there could be some friendly competition at the Beilein dinner table as to who can go further this postseason.
6) Also making its first Elite Eight appearance is East Stroudsburg. The Warriors have won 13 in a row and have racked up 27 total wins, the second most in program history. Keep an eye on Steve Harris. The senior forward leads the team in points (481), rebounds (237), and blocks (33).
MBB: Final moments of NCAA DII Atlantic Region title. Warriors 84, Shippensburg 72. pic.twitter.com/C8FfdhJihK— ESU Warriors (@ESUWarriors) March 14, 2018
7) It is quite the swan song for California Baptist. As the Lancers prepare for a jump to Division I, they met in a historic West Region championship. California Baptist upset No. 1-seeded Western Oregon in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The victory was the Lancers' first West Region championship, and they are now heading to the Elite Eight for the first time. Kalidou Diouf has been a beast this season, averaging 18.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
8) Barry had an up-and-down season but turned it on when it mattered most. The Buccaneers got hot in regionals, taking down the No. 2, 3 and 4 seeds en route to their second South Regional championship in the past three years. Elvar Fridriksson leads one of the more unique rosters in DII basketball, featuring eight different nationalities. Fridriksson talked to NCAA.com earlier in the season about how the cultural gumbo that is Barry basketball meshes and works.