2. Northern State
Northern State earned itself an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament after winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament.
The Wolves beat Southwest Minnesota 72-68 March 5 to claim their second straight NSIC Tournament title. Northern State will be the No. 2 seedin the regional tournament for the second consecutive year.
Senior guard Ian Smith leads the way in several categories for Northern State. Smith has recorded 13.6 points per game and 5.4 assists per game in 30 games played. Coach Paul Sather has guided his team to a 26-6 record and to its third consecutive 20 win season.
Last season, Northern State represented the central region in the Elite Eight and was the national runner-up.
MIAA rival Washburn finds itself in the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament for the second-straight year.
The Ichabods finished runner-up in the MIAA tournament for the second year in a row to Northwest March 10.
This postseason berth marks the 14th time the Ichabods have made an NCAA postseason appearance. Washburn has been guided to a 24-7 record behind 19.5 points per game from senior guard Javion Blake and 5.6 rebounds from 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Will McKee.
Washburn is under the direction of second-year coach Brett Ballard.
4. St. Cloud State
For the second year in a row, St. Cloud State men’s basketball will travel to Maryville and play the same opponent to open up the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.
The Huskies earned an at-large bid into the tournament after a 22-8 record and a quarterfinal loss to Wayne State in the NSIC tournament.
Senior guard Gage Davis dominates the scoresheet for St. Cloud State averaging 26.1 points per game. Davis can do more than score, he also leads the team in rebounds per game (7.6) and total assists (100).
Fifth-year coach Matt Reimer mans the bench for the Huskies as they head into the regional slate.
5. Southern Nazarene
Southern Nazarene earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament after beating Southeastern Oklahoma 80-77 in the Great American Conference Tournament Championship.
This is the Storm’s second consecutive season in the regional tournament. They fell to St. Cloud State 81-68 in the opener last season.
Junior guard Jhonathan Dunn leads Southern Nazarene with 17.6 points per game. Senior center Noah Starkey supports Dunn, averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.
The Storm is led by GAC Coach of the Year Adam Bohac. Bohac has been with Southern Nazarene for 11 seasons.
6. Missouri Southern
Missouri Southern is making its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.
Sophomore forward Cam Martin leads the Lions with 21.4 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
This is the Lions’ seventh appearance in the tournament. They are 5-7 all-time. Last season, Missouri Southern lost to Southwest Minnesota State 81-77 in the first round.
Missouri Southern is directed by fifth-year coach Jeff Boschee. The Lions fell to Pittsburg State 89-80 in the MIAA Tournament quarterfinals March 8.
7. Southeastern Oklahoma
Southeastern Oklahoma has earned a bid to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
The Savage Storm fell to Southern Nazarene 80-77 in the GAC Tournament Championship game. Coached by Kelly Green, Southeastern has won 13 of its last 15 games.
Junior forward Kevin Buckingham leads the Storm in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. He also leads in rebounds, averaging 9.6 per game.
8. Minnesota State
Minnesota State men’s basketball out edged Wayne State for the final spot in the central region.
The Mavericks fell to Bemidji State in the first round of the NSIC Tournament, while the Wildcats were knocked off by Southwestern Minnesota State in the semifinals.
Coached by Matt Margenthaler, Minnesota State is led by junior Cameron Kirksey, who averages 17.5 points per game. It has an 18-14 record in the NCAA Tournament, including a 2-1 record last season.
The Mavericks knocked off Northwest in the first round of the 2018 regional tournament and fell to Northern State in the regional championship.