KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the field of 32 teams for the 75th Annual Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. Held in Kansas City, Mo., since 2002, the event will take place at historic Municipal Auditorium. There are 31 games scheduled from March 14 - 20 in single-elimination format. The official 32-team bracket will be unveiled at 6 p.m. CST on NAIA.org.
The field is comprised of 17 automatic berths, host berth Baker (Kan.) and 14 at-large selections, which were determined using the final Coaches' Top 25 Poll released today.
No. 1-ranked Shorter (Ga.) highlights the field with a NAIA Division I-best 31-2 overall record. The Hawks are making their first national championship trip. They are joined by three other teams from the Southern States Athletic Conference: Belhaven (Miss.), Lee (Tenn.) and Southern Poly (Ga.). The Sooner Athletic Conference placed the most of any conference or unaffiliated group with five programs: John Brown (Ark.), Oklahoma Baptist, Oklahoma Christian, Rogers State (Okla.) and Southern Nazarene (Okla.).
Overall, seven qualifiers enter with at least one national championship title on their resume. Life (Ga.) (1997, 1999, 2000) and Oklahoma Baptist (1966, 2010) are the only ones with multiple rings among that group. Oklahoma Baptist also holds the all-time championship record with 54 victories in 24 previous trips.
Georgetown (Ky.) is making its tournament-record 21st-straight appearance and 30th overall event. The Tigers, who qualified as an at-large out of the Mid-South Conference, check in with a 52-29 postseason mark. In addition to Georgetown and Oklahoma Baptist, 13 other schools are making their 10th-or-higher appearance.
Cumberlands (Ky.) (20-11), also from the Mid South Conference will their first trip back to the tournament since 2010.
Joining Shorter on the rookie list is Our Lady of the Lake (Texas). The Saints were the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament runner-up and posted a 26-7 record.
A notable team not making the return trip to Kansas City is defending national champion Pikeville (Ky.).
NeuLion is the NAIA's Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 10 select NAIA National Championship events. The first 30 matches from Kansas City, Mo., will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. Also, one can purchase the all-tournament package of all four basketball tournaments for $49.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
The National Championship final on March 20 will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. CST.