PARKVILLE, Mo. — If 17th-ranked Park University wants to chase an American Midwest Conference Men's Basketball postseason championship, the Pirates will have to find a way to score points against one of the most frustrating defenses in NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Thursday at 7 p.m., at home inside Breckon Sports Center.
The Pirates (20-6) are the AMC's No. 2 seed, hosting seventh-seeded Lyon College – a team that is 16-14 and has made its mark on the defensive end, where the Scots give up the fourth-fewest points in the NAIA's top division, allowing opponents to score 62.6 points per game. Lyon adds to opponent frustration by pulling down almost 30 rebounds per game on the defensive end, and opponents only manage to shoot 40 percent, on the year, against the Scots, both averages that rank in the top 10, nationally.
Something will have to give when Lyon visits The Breck, though, as Park boasts the AMC's top scorer in Xavielle Brown at 19.8 points per game, and Thursday could be a milestone night for Brown, who is sitting on 1,985 points before Thursday's contest. On defense, the Pirates haven't been a walk-over, as BJ Watson has the league's top steals average, turning 50 steals in to 1.92 per game.
Watson also averages double figures for the Pirates, at 16 points per game, while Zach Rutland posts 11.1 points, and the two Park guards combined are responsible for 207 assists. Park also has Noel Surles near the 10-point mark, at 9.9 points per contest, while Ikem Eriobuna averages eight, Levi Mitchell 7.7, and Mitchell is the team's leader on the glass, at 6-foot-2, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game.
Lyon comes in to the tournament winners in three of its last four, while Park looks for its third win of the year over the Scots. Park won nine games in its last 10 of the year, the lone loss coming to No. 6 Columbia. The Pirates beat Lyon in Parkville, without Brown, 77-47, and in Batesville, in January, the Pirates were better than the Scots by six, 74-68.
Braden Wendel is Lyon's leading scorer, averaging 13.4 points per game, followed by Tyler Robinson at 10.3.
Thursday's winner meets the winner of a quarterfinal game in Arkansas between Central Baptist College and Harris-Stowe State University in the AMC semifinals, Saturday at 3 p.m. If the Pirates win Thursday, Park will be at home Saturday afternoon.
All AMC tournament games air live on the AMC Digital Network (http://portal.stretchinternet.com/amc/), and all Park games on the network will simulcast on the Pirate Sports Network at www.parkathletics.tv.
STUDENT TICKETS FREE TO ALL AMC TOURNEY GAMES AT THE BRECK
STUDENT tickets are FREE courtesy of the Office of Student Life. There will be a special student check-in/ticket table in the front lobby of Breckon Sports Center marked for students. You must present valid Park ID, no exceptions. No ID = no free ticket.
FACULTY AND STAFF will have to pay for your tickets to the playoff games. Ticket information can be found at http://www.parkathletics.com/Tickets.
Ticket Prices for the AMC Tournament at Breckon Sports Center
Students are free with valid Park ID.
$5 general admission
$2 for students of other institutions OR students without Park ID
NAIA card-holding administrators will also be admitted free of charge. No season-pass cards, issued by athletics for the regular season, will be accepted for admission.
AMC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL MATCHUPS
(all games Thursday at 7 p.m.)
#8 Missouri Baptist at #1 Columbia (at Columbia, Mo.)
#5 William Woods at #4 Freed-Hardeman (at Henderson, Tenn.)
#6 Harris-Stowe at #3 Central Baptist (at Conway, Ark.)
#7 Lyon at #2 Park (at Parkville, Mo.)
PIRATES JUMP TO NO. 17 IN NAIA TOP 25
By: Chad Waller, Director of Athletics Communications and Media
The unanimous No. 1 choice in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll is LSU Alexandria (La.), announced Tuesday by the national office. The Generals have held the top spot in each of the last five polls. The final Top 25 installment will be announced Wednesday, March 8.
Official qualifiers and bracket for the 2017 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship will be announced via a video selection show at 6 p.m. CST on March 8. Additionally, information will be posted on www.NAIA.org.
Top 25 Highlights (historical information dates back to 2000):
• LSU Alexandria (La.) is the lone undefeated team in NAIA men's basketball – Division I & Division II. The Generals boast a 29-0 record heading into the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) tournament, which begins Thursday.
• The Generals captured all 10 first-place votes for the fifth-consecutive time and posted 250 total points. Overall, LSU Alexandria has held the top spot in 10 out of the last 14 polls dating back to last season.
• In national statistical rankings, LSU Alexandria displays success at both ends of the court ranking No. 3 in field goal percentage defense (.393) and No. 4 in field goal percentage (.503).
• The No. 1-seeded Generals host the RRAC postseason tournament and play the lowest remaining seed on Friday.
• LSU Alexandria earned its third-straight berth to the NAIA National Championship having won the RRAC regular-season title.
• The Heart of America Athletic Conference regular-season champion and No. 2 William Penn (Iowa) holds in the Top 25 for the third-straight week.
• No. 3 Dalton State (Ga.) moves up two spots for its highest position this year.
• No. 4 Carroll (Mont.) and No. 5 Hope International (Calif.) both enjoy their highest ranking this season.
• No. 8 Pikeville (Ky.) and No. 17 Park (Mo.) claim the best positive movement with a six-spot hike. Conversely, No. 21 Cumberlands (Ky.) falls 12 spots for the worst drop.
• Two of the three newcomers this week – No. 20 Life (Ga.) and No. 25 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) – are ranked for the first time this year. The other rookie, No. 22 Langston (Okla.), last was mentioned on Dec. 6, 2016.
• Life was last in the Top 25 back on Dec. 10, 2013 (No. 20 – tie). The Running Eagles have won nine-straight contests, including four over teams currently ranked in the Coaches' Poll. Martin Methodist checks back in after a spot on Dec. 8, 2015 (No. 17 – tie).
• Through all seven polls (including Preseason) this year, there have been 45 different teams to hold a position in the Top 25. Of that group, 12 programs have been ranked all season long.
• Pikeville leads the active group of being ranked in the Top 25 with 57-straight mentions, which dates back to the start of the 2012-13 season. The second longest streak belongs to Georgetown (52-straight) and is followed by Talladega (Ala.) (45-straight).
• The Golden State Athletic Conference and Mid-South Conference each boast the most teams in the Top 25 with four apiece. Three other leagues land a trio of ranked squads.
• Nine of 10 conferences claim at least two ranked programs.
• There have been 37 different teams since 2000 to hold the No. 1 position. Former NAIA member Mountain State (W.Va.) leads the all-time charts with 48 all-time No. 1 rankings, followed by NAIA Division II member Robert Morris (Ill.) with 24. Georgetown is next with 13, former member Concordia (Calif.) at 12, former member Cal State San Marcos at 11, LSU Alexandria at 10 and Columbia at nine No. 1 recognitions.
• Robert Morris, now a NAIA Division II member in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC), is the only program to start and end a season ranked No. 1, doing so during the 2006 – 07 season.
• The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions.
• The Top 25 is determined by a points system based on how each voter ranks the best teams. A team receives 30 points for each first-place vote, 29 for second-place and so on through the list.
• The highest and lowest ranking for each team (a non-rating is considered a low ratings) is removed and the team's ranking will be recalculated with an additional point added to each team for every ballot (including discounted ballots) that the teams appears on.
• Teams that receive only one point in the ballot are not considered "receiving votes"
• Frequency of polls occur bi-weekly. This policy was approved by the National Administrative Council (NAC) for the 2016-17 academic season. This change will allow raters the opportunity to consider a larger body of work in between rating periods.
• For the complete Top 25 calendar, click here.
2016 – 17 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll – Feb. 28 (No. 6)
LSU Alexandria (10)
William Penn (Iowa)
Dalton State (Ga.)
Hope International (Calif.)
William Carey (Miss.)
The Master's (Calif.)
LSU Shreveport (La.)
Grand View (Iowa)
Martin Methodist (Tenn.)
Dropped from rankings: No. 19 Oklahoma City; No. 20 Wiley (Texas); No. 25 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas).
Others Receiving Votes: Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) 51; Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 38; Wiley (Texas) 30; Southwestern Christian (Okla.) 24; William Woods (Mo.) 20; Oklahoma City 12; Loyola (La.) 10; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 4.
^ Previous ranking occurred Feb. 14, 2017