KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 73rd Annual NAIA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament opens Wednesday (March 17) with the first of 16 first-round games to tip off at 9 a.m. (CST) in Kansas City's famed Municipal Auditorium.
Azusa Pacific doesn't play its first-round game until Thursday (March 18) at 12:30 p.m. (CDT) against University of the Cumberlands (Ky.).
The Cougars are traveling an eerily similar path to last year. Like last year, they enter the NAIA Tournament as the No. 13 seed with a 24-9 record, and on the heels of another GSAC Postseason Tournament title. Azusa Pacific Head Coach Justin Leslie hopes the similarities end there because the Cougars were upset by MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.) in last year's first round action.
Cumberlands is making its third straight NAIA Tournament appearance and arrives in Kansas City with a 21-10 record after finishing in third place of the Mid-South Conference.
This is the first-ever meeting between Azusa Pacific and Cumberlands, and the winner will get the Westminster/Evangel winner Friday at 2:15 p.m. (CDT).
Azusa Pacific, which enters the NAIA Tournament with a 7-game winning streak, is led by 6-foot-3 senior guard Dominique Johnson, a 2-time All-GSAC pick who is averaging 17.4 points on the season.
Cumberlands, which is one of the NAIA's best 3-point shooting teams, is paced by All-Mid-South guard Chad Byron, a 6-2 senior guard who is averaging 14.4 points while shooting at a .443 clip from the 3-point arc.
All Azusa Pacific games played in Kansas City will be broadcast live on Internet radio via KAPU.com. In addition, every NAIA Tournament game will be videostreamed live on the Internet.
Click on the above links for complete game notes and additional tournament information.