KANSAS CITY – The final NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Top-25 Poll and 32-team Championship Bracket were announced on Wednesday, with Bethel, Indiana Wesleyan, Saint Francis and Taylor all punching their ticket to compete in Point Lookout, Missouri from March 8 through March 14.
No. 3 Bethel (29-4) clinched the Crossroads League tournament and regular season titles to secure one of the league’s two automatic bids into the NAIA National Tournament. The Pilots took the top seed in the Duer Bracket and will open up with unranked and eighth-seeded Calumet at 8:30 pm (ET) on Thursday, March 9.
The Pilots feature several former area prep standouts, including Clay Yeo of Triton, Jordyn Coon of Warsaw, Nick Kindig of Tippecanoe Valley and Tanner Shepherd of Triton.
Bethel coach Mike Lightfoot is retiring at season’s end after 30 years coaching the Pilots. Lightfoot has won a total of seven national championships during his tenure in Mishawaka.
No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan (26-7) secured the CL’s second automatic bid by advancing to the league’s tournament championship game. The Wildcats will open their national title defense as the top-seed in the Cramer Bracket. IWU will begin with unranked and eighth-seeded Corban on Thursday, March 9 at 1:00 pm (ET).
No. 15 Saint Francis (22-10) received the third-of-nine available at-large bids into the tournament field. The Cougars took the fourth seed within the Liston Bracket and will go up against No. 18 and fifth-seeded Oregon Tech on Wednesday, March 8 at 1:00 pm (ET).
No. 25 Taylor (20-11) was the last team in, claiming the final available at-large bid into Nationals. The Trojans were given the seventh seed in the Naismith Bracket and will square off with No. 8 and second-seeded Warner at 5:00 pm (ET) on Wednesday, March 8.
Fans can follow Bethel, Indiana Wesleyan, Saint Francis, Taylor and the entire tournament by visiting the NAIA Tournament Championship Central page.