Postseason men's basketball will be featured at Peru on Thursday

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

With the 24-game conference regular-season schedule completed, the postseason slate is set to tip-off with the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Heart of America Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament on Thursday, March 5.

 The Peru State men's basketball team earned the third seed in the post-season tournament after finishing the regular season with a 15-9 conference mark. Overall, the Bobcats went 16-14. Peru State will be hosting Baker (Kan.) Thursday night at 7 p.m. The Bobcats swept the season series winning 77-69 at home and then topping Baker 80-51 in Baldwin City, Kan.

New to the conference this season is an eight-team single-elimination postseason format. The higher seed of each contest will be the host location in each round. All qualifying teams will begin competition in the quarterfinal round on March 5, followed by the semifinals on March 7, and the championship on March 10. The title game will be aired on ESPN3.

The top seed and regular-season champion is William Penn (Iowa). The Statesmen finished the regular season with an overall record of 27-3 (21-3 Heart) and are currently ranked fifth in the NAIA. They will host No. 8 seeded Evangel (Mo.) on opening night.

Clarke (Iowa) secured the No. 2 seed with an 18-6 conference record and will play host to No. 7 seeded Missouri Valley. No. 3 seeded Peru State, the defending tournament champion, will host No. 6 seeded Baker. MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) rounds out the list as the No. 4 seed and is set to host No. 5 Benedictine (Kan.).

Peru State, MidAmerica Nazarene, and Benedictine ended the regular season tied for the No. 3 spot, each boasting a 15-9 conference record. Peru State received the highest seed of the three by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping the Pioneers and splitting with the Ravens. Since MidAmerica Nazarene and Benedictine split their head-to-head meetings, the tiebreaker moved to Criteria B (record vs conference opponents starting with the top in descending order).  Each team split with William Penn but the Pioneers received the higher seed after a double-overtime win over Clarke while the Ravers were swept by the Pride.

Missouri Valley and Baker also finished the season with identical 13-11 records, but the Wildcats received the higher seed after a sweep over the Vikings.

If William Penn claims the postseason title, Clarke would claim the second automatic berth to the NAIA National Tournament as the runner-up of the regular season.

Should Peru State win Thursday night, they will either travel to Clarke on Saturday or host Missouri Valley dependent on the outcome of that contest.

Since it is a post-season tournament, no passes will be honored with the exception of NAIA membership cards. The admission charges will be adults - $6, seniors (65 and older) - $5, students (ages 7-17) - $4, and children six and under – free.