Swede men could be KCAC tourney sleeper

By Steve Sell
February 22, 2017

The KCAC Postseason Basketball Tournament gets under way today for the men and Thursday for the women.

We already know that no matter what happens, the Tabor men and Friends women are headed to nationals. The conference regular-season champions really have nothing to play for, while the other teams’ futures are determined by the three days. 

I think there’s a lot more mystery surrounding the men’s tournament than the women’s.

I had the chance to see every KCAC team this year. There’s no question to me that Tabor’s men have the best team, but newcomer York College has the best individual talent. The sleeper team to me is still Bethany, which has to go to York tonight in what should easily be the best game on the docket.

It still boggles me that Bethany is a .500 team. I look at the Swedes and I see a team overflowing with talent. It has all the ingredients to be a national tournament team as it has several big-time scorers in Khalid Washington, Cody Harris and Joey Habtemariam, not to mention one of the KCAC’s most versatile players in Tyler Larkin and a bruiser inside in Ian Merzwinski.

Bethany should enter the game brimming with confidence as it has handed York two of its losses this year. It all comes down to whether or not Bethany can buckle down on the defensive end, which has been its problem in recent years when it comes to postseason play.

Tabor should have no trouble with Oklahoma Wesleyan. Meanwhile, Southwestern-Friends is always a good matchup, but the Falcons have come apart down the stretch. Ottawa and Saint Mary meet in the other game and the Spires very seldom lose at home.

The women’s tournament will be lacking in suspense, unless Friends doesn’t bring it every night emotionally. There was no doubt this year the Falcons were clearly the dominant team and should duplicate their regular-season success in the tournament. If they do, then Tabor would go to nationals as the second-place finisher during the regular season.

Friends will cruise past Oklahoma Wesleyan on Thursday in the first round. Kansas Wesleyan could have some problems with Ottawa, while Tabor will get a push from Southwestern and don’t be surprised if Sterling wins at Saint Mary. The Spires were the surprise team of the KCAC this year by finishing third.