3 Christian Schools Are Headed to the NCAA Tournament, Several Others Still Have a Shot
Houston Baptist lost an 81-79 heartbreaker to Lamar on Wednesday in the Southland Conference Tournament, leaving seven Christian schools still alive to try to join the three already headed to the NCAA Tournament.
Gardner Webb shocked Radford in the Big South championship Sunday to join Liberty University and Baylor among the Christian schools that will participate in March Madness. Baylor is viewed as a sure bet even though the Bears lost to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.
The Big South title game was played at Radford, where the Highlanders won the regular-season matchup by 17 points, but the Bulldogs played incredible defense to hold Radford to just seven points in the first 10 minutes.
David Efianayi, ranked in the top 10 percent of all players in the country at ValueAddBasketball.com, sank all eight of his free throws to help Gardner Webb hold on for a stunning 76-65 victory, a 28-point swing from the first meeting.
Also on Sunday, Liberty won the Atlantic Sun championship game, which was guaranteed to put a Christian school in the NCAA Tournament when Lipscomb also advanced.
Liberty’s Scottie James was named the MVP of the ASUN Tournament. He scored 17 points on 7-of -10 shooting in the title game with eight rebounds as the Flames pulled out a back-and-forth thriller 74-68.
James is the most valuable player among the three Christian schools that are headed to the tournament and 66th overall among the more than 4,000 men playing Division I basketball.
Here are the players from the tournament-bound Christian teams who rank in the top 500 overall, per ValueAddBasketball.com:
While many teams have been eliminated from their respective tournaments around the country, the following teams still have a chance to make it to March Madness.
Lipscomb could still be selected as an at-large team, though the Bisons are viewed with less than a 50-50 chance.
The ASUN runner-up is one of the few teams with two players in the top 5 percent of all players in the country, and both had incredible games against Liberty.
Garrison Matthews, ranked 168th of more than 4,000 players, hit four 3-pointers to give Lipscomb the lead several times. Rob Marberry, ranked just behind him at No. 187, had 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
TCU is seen as having just above a 50-50 chance even after losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.
A total of 36 teams are selected to fill out the tournament in addition to the 32 conference champions.
Abilene Christian needs to win two games starting with a Friday semifinal in the Southland Conference in order to make the tournament.
Two Christian schools need to win three games this week to get in.
Davidson would need to win Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Grand Canyon needs to win three starting with Seattle on Thursday night in the WAC Tournament.
Two other Christian schools would need to win four games this week to make the tournament, and they face each other: The winner of the SMU vs. Tulsa game Thursday night in the American Athletic Conference Tournament would then need to win three more games for a bid.
Here are the players from these teams who rank in the top 500 nationally:
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