Bemidji State earns first-ever NCAA Tournament berth
Sunday, March 7, 2004
BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Bemidji State men’s basketball team earned its first-ever berth into the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament, earning an at-large bid into the tournament’s North Central Region.

Bemidji State, with a 20-9 record out of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, earned a No. 7 seed in the North Central and will tackle No. 2 seed Nebraska-Kearney in the first round. Kearney received an at-large bid to the Regional tournament after a 24-4 season and a loss to North Central Regional No. 1 seed Metropolitan State in the RMAC championship game.

Metro State is the No. 1 seed in the North Central Region after a 28-2 season and regular-season and tournament championships in the RMAC. Metro will tackle No. 8 seed Mesa (Colo.) State in the first round; the Mavericks received an at-large berth out of the RMAC after a 19-9 campaign and an RMAC Tournament semifinal loss to No. 2 regional seed Neb.-Kearney.

NSIC Tournament champion Northern State is the No.5 seed in the North Central Region and was an automatic qualifier after a 24-6 season. The Wolves will tackle South Dakota State, an at-large selection from the North Central Conference after a 26-6 season.

Nebraska-Omaha is the region’s third seed and is the automatic qualifier from the North Central Conference. The Mavericks, 23-7, will tackle sixth-seed South Dakota in the first round. The Coyotes, who recieved an at-large bid out of the NCC, are 21-9.

Bemidji State has posted a 1-3 record this season against teams in the North Central Regional. BSU dropped a 95-86 decision to then-15th ranked South Dakota State on Nov. 28; was beaten 88-79 by then-No. 3 South Dakota on Nov. 29; posted a 94-83 win over Northern State in Bemidji on Jan. 6; and lost at Northern State, 97-93, on Feb. 14.

The NCAA Tournament berth continues what has been arguably the finest season in the history of Bemidji State men’s basketball. The Beavers won 20 games for the first time in school history, won the NSIC regular-season crown to mark the school’s first conference title since 1966-67, and saw NSIC Player of the Year Charles Hanks and NSIC Newcomer of the Year James Roberson headline a group of three BSU players to be named First-Team All-Conference. BSU has won 54 games under third-year head coach Jeff Guiot, the most-successful three-year run in school history.

Guiot was named 2004 NSIC Coach of the Year.

The NCAA Division II National Tournament features a 64-team field broken down into eight eight-team regions. The winner of each Regional section advances to the Elite Eight, hosted by California State-Bakersfield, March 24-27.