A.K.A – The Year of the Bearcat
*This column is brought to you by Buckeye Will, a NW Missouri State Alum and RTI subscriber
While the focus of the sports nation is on the NCAA Div. I Men’s basketball tournament, and until Wednesday night, the World Baseball Classic, there are other sporting events. Did you watch Jimmy Johnson get wrecked in the Daytona 500? The Drake University Bulldog women’s basketball team went undefeated in the Missouri Valley Conference and post-season tournament competition (historic first!)? Formula One starts Saturday night (left turns and right turns)! What about the NCAA Men’s Div. II basketball tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota? There is a little university in Maryville, Missouri; Northwest Missouri State, which reached the National Championship game on Saturday.
Where have I heard of these Bearcats of Northwest before? Ah, yes, they play football and won 6 national championships. But we’re talking about basketball. Basketball and football don’t mix. Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Gonzaga, while they may HAVE football teams, they are not competitive football teams. Alabama, Auburn, Arizona State, Penn State, have basketball arenas…well you get my point. Only once has a University held the championship in football and basketball the same year, the 2007 Florida Gators. Side note, Florida beat Ohio State in the championship games both times.
Northwest has the opportunity on Saturday do something no Div. II school has ever accomplished, win national championships in football and basketball in the same academic year. Saturday at 3 pm on CBS, #2 Northwest Missouri State plays #1 Fairmount State for the Div. II championship.
Northwest is led by junior guard Justin Pitts from Blue Springs South HS. The Div. II player of the year, Justin averages 18 pts a game. In the national semi-final, his driving, one-handed floating runner overcame his poor 3 point shooting. Zach Schneider, a senior from Prairie Village, Kansas, has taken 4 two-point attempts all season, but over 140 3 point shots. There is a player from Norway on the team.
Fairmount State, Northwest’s opponent, blew out all opponents in the Elite 8 to this juncture. The NCAA tournament organizers correctly seeded Fairmount number 1.
Saturday, the last two battle to see who holds the walnut trophy.