TWTW: It’s finally playoff time for NSIC basketball

The NSIC basketball regular season ended over the weekend. Everything is set.

On the men’s side, Minnesota State captured the league (and South) title, thanks to their ability to hold on for dear life Friday at USF, and to Augustana upsetting Winona State on Saturday night in Winona.

The Mavericks finished 19-3 in the league, 25-4 overall. Winona finished 18-4. No one else was close to them.
In the North, MSU-Moorhead, Bemidji State and St. Cloud State finished in a three-way tie for first.
Here are the final standings:
MSU-Mankato 19-3
Winona State 18-4
MSU-Moorhead 15-7
Bemidji State 15-7
St. Cloud State 15-7
SMSU 14-8
Upper Iowa 13-9
Northern State 13-9
Augustana 12-10
USF 12-10
UM-Duluth 10-12
Concordia-St. Paul 5-17
Wayne State 5-17
Mary 5-17
Minot State 4-18
Minnesota Crookston 1-21

Going into the weekend, Augie, Upper Iowa and USF were all tied for fourth in the South, with the eventual winner of that three-way tie securing home court advantage. UIU went 2-0, so they’ll be at home. USF nearly got the 4-seed, beating Concordia and losing 103-101 to Mankato. Augie has to really be kicking themselves, because they did the hard part, beaeting Winona on Saturday, but it didn’t matter because they lost at Upper Iowa on Friday.

So here’s the men’s bracket for the first round of the NSIC tournament. All games are Wednesday night. The winners advance to the Pentagon, where the final three rounds run March 1-4.

Minnesota Crookston at MSU-Mankato
Wayne State at Bemidji State
Minot State at Winona State
UM-Duluth at Upper Iowa
Mary at Southwest Minnesota State
Concordia-St. Paul at MSU-Moorhead
USF at St. Cloud State
Augie at Northern State

A few thoughts. Bad draw for USF. I think they’re capable of winning at SCSU, but remember, longtime coach Kevin Schlagel recently announced his retirement. The Huskies surely don’t want his career to end with a home loss to a D2 newbie.
The Husky players will likely be motivated, there should be a big crowd (and USF has been terrible in front of big crowds this season), and its probably fair to assume some calls will go SCSU’s way. It’s been a very encouraging year two for the Cougars, but I’ll be surprised if they reach the Pentagon.

Augie at Northern is not exactly ideal for the Pentagon and potential crowds. Augie and Northern are the top two schools in the league attendance-wise. Yes, the fact that they play each other means at least one is guaranteed to reach the Pentagon, but it also means one is guaranteed not to make the Pentagon. For those with local interests, it’d be ideal for Augie and Northern to both reach the Pentagon.

Incidentally, USF/SCSU and Augie/Northern are also easily the most intriguing of the first round games. I don’t see any upsets happening in the other games.

On the women’s side, Wayne State outlasted Minnesota State for the conference (and South division) crown. Northern State cruised to the North title.

Here are the final standings:
Wayne State 19-3
MSU-Mankato 18-4
Northern State 17-5
Concordia-St. Paul 16-6
Minot State 14-8
Mary 14-8
St. Cloud State 12-10
MSU-Moorhead 12-10
Augustana 11-11
UM-Duluth 11-11
USF 8-14
UM-Crookston 7-15
Winona State 6-16
Bemidji State 5-17
Upper Iowa 4-18
SMSU 2-20

And here are the first round matchups for the NSIC tournament on Wednesday night. Winners advance to the Pentagon.

SMSU at Northern State
USF at St. Cloud State
Minnesota Crookston at MSU-Mankato
UM-Duluth at Concordia-St. Paul
Winona State at Mary
Upper Iowa at Minot State
MSU-Moorhead at Augustana
Bemidji State at Wayne State

The Viking women are the only one of the four Sioux Falls teams to earn home court for the first round, but they’re far from a certainty to reach the Pentagon. The Dragons just came into the Elmen Center and beat the Vikings a couple weeks ago.
Then again, Shaunteva Ashley might be the best player in the league right now. I’d look for her to have a big game.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with my All-NSIC teams. We can discuss that, the tournament and whatever else at my live chat at 2.