SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The eight coaches at this year’s Elite Eight men’s national basketball tournament each have a unique thing or three about them in that none of their schools have ever won a Division II men’s basketball title.
After Tuesday’s quarterfinals four teams remain in the hunt in West Texas A&M, Ferris (Mich.) State, Queens (N.C.) and Northern (S.D.) State.
The Buffs meet No. 1 ranked Ferris at 6 tonight in the first of the two national semifinals at The Pentagon.
Ferris is coached by Andy Bronkema who will bring more than his Basketball Times National Coach of the Year honor to the game tonight.
The bespectacled Bronkema is owner of a long, thick and large black beard.
Bronkema’s team is 36-1 so is his beard lucky? Is Bronkema’s wearing a playoff beard in hockey playoff tradition? Or is Bronkema a beard guy?
“It could be any one of those,” Bronkema said. “And it has been throughout the year. It’s a conversation piece. It’s six months growth. I did trim the mustache because my wife wouldn’t kiss me if I didn’t.”
On the other bench tonight WT coach Tom Brown will go with his same look. A complete opposite of Bronkema with no beard and no hair on top.
Brown’s look has worked as well with WT setting a school record for wins this year at 32 and tonight will be its first-eve national semifinal men’s basketball playoff game.
A new champ
As mentioned above none of the Elite Eight schools has ever won a national men’s basketball championship. In fact, none of the eight teams made the Elite Eight last year.
In 2017 it was Northwest Missouri State beating Fairmont State for the title.
Home, sweet, home
Although Northern State is about 200 miles from Sioux Falls located in Aberdeen, S.D., it definitely is the home team at this Elite Eight.
Since teams tare travelling from New York, North Carolina, California and Texas, the crowds aren’t massive at most game.
But when Northern beat East Stroudsburg in the national quarterfinals Tuesday The Pentagon which seats about 3,000 was nearly packed full.
West Texas had a strong contingent of about 250 fans for its quarterfinal win over Le Moyne and about 600 fans overall. The official score sheet does not list attendance numbers.