PERU – As it has been said many times, by many different coaches, the new Peru State mantra is “You have to beat the best, to be the best.”
That will be the case for the Bobcat men’s basketball team as they head into the opening round of the NAIA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament this Wednesday night. Peru State will take on top-ranked The Master’s (Calif.) at 8:15 p.m. in the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
The Master’s is the championship overall No. 1 seed for the first time in their school history with a 29-2 record. The Mustangs have been ranked first in each of the last three Coaches’ Top 25 polls. The Master’s will be looking to become the first No. 1 seed to win it all since former member Mountain State (W.V.) in 2004.
Peru State received the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Host Bid to gain the last spot into the field of 32. The Bobcats finished the season with a 21-13 record.
Here are a few comparisons between the two teams in terms of NAIA DI Top Team Rankings:
The Master’s – first in blocks per game (5.161), first in defensive rebounds per game (32.548), first in total blocks (160), second in field goal defense (0.390), third in scoring margin (20.484), fourth in scoring offense per game (92.806), fourth in total rebound offense (1367), fifth in total rebounds per game (44.097), fifth in turnover/assist ratio (1.353), sixth in three-point field goals made (307), sixth in total assists (540), sixth in total scoring offense (2877), seventh in total rebound margin (9.290), eighth in assists per game (17.419), eighth in field goal percentage (0.500), ninth in three-point field goals made per game (9.903), 16th in three-point field goal percentage (0.385), 17th in total steals (254), 18th in steals per game (8.194), 21st in three-point field goal defense (0.328), 22nd in the scoring defense per game (72.323), 26th in offensive rebounds per game (11.548), 26th in turnover margin (1.839), 28th in free throw percentage (0.718), and 31st in total rebound defense (34.806).
Peru State – eighth in total scoring offense (2833), 14th in total blocks (111), 15th in scoring offense per game (85.848), 15th in free throw percentage (0.739), 18th in turnover margin (2.424), 20th in total steals (248), 28th in blocks per game (3.364), 34th in steals per game (7.515), 35th in three-point field goals made (251), 38th in total rebound offense (1153), 39th in field goal percentage (0.463), 43rdin three-point field goal percentage (0.361), 45th in assist/turnover ratio (1.007), and 48th in total assists (419).
Both teams have numerous players with top statistics in the NAIA Top 50 Individual Statistics.
For The Master’s, here are there top individual rankings: Timothy Soares – third in blocks per game (2.806), third in total blocks (87), 12th in total rebounds (265), 14th in field goal percentage (0.576), 18th in offensive rebounds per game (2.774), and 26th in defensive rebounds per game (5.774); Lawrence Russell – 11th in total steals (62), 13th in steals per game (2.00), 16th in defensive rebounds per game (6.129), 33rd in total scoring (507), 35th in total assists (113), 46th in assists per game (3.645), 46th in total rebounds (212), and 49th in points per game (16.355); Hansel Atencia – 14th in assist/turnover ratio (0.576), 19th in assists per game (4.207), 23rd in total assists (122), and 23rd in free throw percentage (0.835); and Brock Gardner – 16th in defensive rebounds per game (6.129), 21stin total rebounds (244), and total rebounds per game (7.871).
For Peru State – LJ Westbrook (Salem, Ore.) – second in total assists (186), second in assists per game (5.813), 12th in free throw percentage (0.868), 17th in total scoring (569), 18th in total steals (54), 26th in steals per game (1.688), 31st in points per game (17.781), 34th in defensive rebounds per game (5.563), and 39th in field goal percentage (0.516); Quantice Hunter (Chicago) – second in total scoring (735), fourth in total steals (76), fourth in points per game (22.273), seventh in steals per game (2.303), and 38th in total three-point field goals made (74); Andre Frazier-Stanley (Los Angeles) – 11th in total blocks (49); Nolan Cass (Spring, Texas) – 20thin three-point field goals made (82) and 38th in three-point field goals made per game (2.485).
The Master’s has seven wins over teams in the tournament who were ranked in the last coaches’ poll or were receiving votes. They topped Montana Western (tied 11th), Westmont (Calif.) (13th) – three wins, Hope International (Calif.) (tied 11th) – won two and lost one, and Vanguard (Calif.) (RV). Their only other loss was to Antelope Valley (Calif.) in the second game of the year.
Peru State has four wins over teams in the tournament who were ranked in the latest coaches’ poll. The Bobcats topped fourth-ranked William Penn (Iowa) twice while losing once to the Statesmen. They also have two wins over 19th-ranked Graceland (Iowa) while losing in the Heart tournament championship game to the Statesmen. The ‘Cats also lost to sixth-ranked Columbia (Mo.) and seventh-ranked Central Methodist (Mo.) – both in close contests. Peru State also lost early in the season to Nebraska Wesleyan who is in the NCAA Division III National Tournament Semi-Finals.
This is the second-straight year that the Mustangs are in the national tournament. They won their first game last year, but were defeated in the second round. The Bobcats were in the national tournament two years ago and lost in the first round.
The NAIA Network (www.NAIANetwork.com) – the association’s official video streaming home – will broadcast the first 30 games leading up to the championship final on ESPN3. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single-day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament package is available at $34.95. For more information on the NAIA Network, go to the following link: https://goo.gl/zm9qtW
The winner of Wednesday night’s contest will play Friday, at 12:30 p.m. against the winner of LSU Alexandria/Lewis-Clark State (Idaho).