To say that tonight's game against Northwestern College is a big one would be a huge understatement for the Tiger men's basketball team. Northwestern has already clinched the GPAC regular-season title, but a win tonight would do huge things not only for DWU's seeding for the postseason tournament, but also for a potential bid for the national tournament.
The Tigers are 20-7 overall and 10-6 in the GPAC heading into tonight and are tied for Concordia for fourth place. The top five teams get a bye, but it's a good possibility that only the top three teams from the league will get a trip to the national tournament, so DWU really needs to jump a few spots in the league.
We've gotten no help from elsewhere in the league, either. USF won by a single point at Dordt the other day, and Briar Cliff won by two against Concordia last week. So it's up to the Tigers to control their own destiny. A win would put DWU safely in the top four, maybe top three, depending on what else happens around the league.
A win would also be huge for an at-large bid to the national tournament. Northwestern is No. 10 in the NAIA, and a win would mark the fourth time (I think) this season the Tigers had beat a ranked opponent (Black Hills State, Xavier University and Briar Cliff). Those wins (I assume) are huge for at-large bids.
Northwestern beat us 76-67 in Orange City in early January, but the Tigers didn't look like themselves. Their offense wasn't productive and defense couldn't get a stop, and they just couldn't get anything going. The Red Raiders are talented -- and tall -- but nothing DWU can't handle. Hopefully home-court advantage will help us out.
Oh, and another thing we've got going for us (kind of) -- two top-ranked teams in the NCAA lost within a matter of three days this week (including Wisconsin's upset of undefeated Ohio State -- go Badgers!), so I feel like that is a good sign. If unranked K-State can beat Kansas, No. 23 DWU can definitely beat the 10th-ranked team in the country. (Seems logical to me, anyway.)
Hope to see everyone there. We need a huge cheering section. Who ya rootin' for?