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Providence men, women learn NAIA national tournament berths

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Posted at 2:11 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 16:11:47-05

(Editor's note: University of Providence media releases)

GREAT FALLS – The University of Providence men's basketball team was awarded a top seed in its pod for the 2020-21 NAIA men's basketball national championship opening round, presented by Ballogy.

The Argos (17-2 overall, 15-2 Frontier Conference ) will take on the winner of the game between No. 2 Texas A&M Texarkana and No. 3 Bethel. Those two teams will face off on March 12, with the winner facing the Argos on March 13. The winner of the three-team pod will advance to the 16-team NAIA national tournament, where the winners of all the three-team pods will be reseeded.

Texas A&M Texarkana is 11-3 on the season with a 5-2 conference record in the Red River Athletic Conference. Bethel, a member of the Crossroads League, has amassed a 20-10 overall record and 9-7 mark in conference play.

"Both of those teams are quality teams," UP head coach Steve Keller said. "We're going to have to show up and be ready to play."

Though Argos will spend the next week watching film of the two teams and coming up with a game plan, the coaching staff will spend a majority of the time working on themselves.

"We worry more about what we do," Keller said. "We have to guard. These teams that we play we'll probably be bigger than us. We're going to have to keep them off the boards and try to rebound a little bit. We're really happy with our team. We think we can beat anybody."

The University of Providence women's basketball team, meanwhile, was also one of the 48 teams selected to qualify for the NAIA national tournament during the NAIA Selection Show Thursday evening.

The Argos were awarded a No. 3 seed and will be taking on No. 2 Cumberlands (Ky.) in the opening-round game on March 12. Should they win, they'll take on Dakota State (S.D.). The winner of the three-team pod will advance to the 16-team national tournament.

Cumberlands has amassed a 14-5 record over the season, including 10-5 in conference play. Dakota State finished the season 25-3, including a perfect 14-0 in conference.

"It's a tough bracket, but we want to play the toughest teams," UP head coach Bill Himmelberg said. "Cumberlands is a tough team from the MidSouth, one of the toughest conferences in the country. They're a big team, they have a good point guard, so it's going to be a good matchup. It's going to be a fun first round."

The reveal show helped ease the stress of the entire team, which had been on the bubble since its semifinal loss in the Frontier Conference playoffs to Montana Western.

"It was nerve-racking," Himmelberg said. "We were hoping we were in. I was glad to see that we were able to make it."