For the Mavs (27-4, #8), the quest continues Wednesday afternoon against Alabama-Huntsville (29-4, #7). Mankato is led by Jefferson Mason and Marcus Hill. For the year Mason scores 19 points and Hill 16, while Mason also leads the Mavs with 9 boards, while Hill leads with 5 assists. Cameron Hodges scores 13 and was the NSIC's defensive player of the year.
Huntsville counters with Jaime Smith, Josh Magette and Zane Campbell. All score about 13 ppg, while Maggette also contributes 8 points and 2 steal
In their past 3 games, Smith has scored 19 ppg, Campbell 17, Magette 15 and reserve Baldwin 11.
Huntsville outscores its opponents 78-67. Mankato does the same by 81-72. It is rank homerism to pick Mankato to win. This game is a clear toss-up between 2 similar teams. The main difference seems to be that Huntsville spreads its scoring out among 4 guys, Mankato 3. Maybe that means the Mavs have more upside if somebody gets the hot hand, but also more downside if somebody is off. Who knows. I'll take Mankato 76-74.
If that happens (they win), they will probably face their toughest opponent yet in #2 rated Bellarmine 30-2 on Wednesday night. If they get to Saturday's final they #1 rated West Liberty almost surely awaits at 32-0. Their opposition in the lower bracket consists of #6, #6 and #7 seeds from the regional tournament.
Last year at this time, St. Cloud State won in the round of 8, then lost in the semi-finals. Hopefully the Mavs can do them 2 better.