Big Rapids, Mich. - Reigning NCAA Division II National Champion Ferris State will tipoff the 2018-19 college basketball campaign against some of the nation's top competition as the Bulldogs have been invited to play in the Small College Basketball (SCB) Hall of Fame Classic for the second consecutive year.
FSU will take part the season-opening event on Nov. 3-4 at the St. Joseph Civic Arena in St. Joseph, Mo. The event will be hosted by SCB in conjunction with Missouri Western State University and the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This past season, the Bulldogs beat two nationally top-six ranked foes in St. Thomas Aquinas and Indiana (Pa.) in the same event at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., helping springboard FSU to a historic 38-1 national championship campaign.
"We're thrilled to be invited back to compete in this prestigious event featuring some of the nation's best squads," said FSU head coach and D2 National Coach of the Year Andy Bronkema. "This tournament gave us a great start this past year and was an awesome experience for our players and fans."
In this season's event, the Bulldogs will open on Saturday, Nov. 3, against perennial contender and 2017 national runner-up Fairmont State (W.Va.). FSU will then close out the event on Sunday, Nov. 4, versus Northwest Missouri State in a battle of the last two national championship squads in Division II basketball.
The SCB Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place in conjunction with the tournament on Friday, Nov. 2, at the Stoney Creek Inn and Conference Center.
Additionally, St. Joseph-based Hillyard, steeped in basketball history, will serve as the primary sponsor of the event. As such, the Classic will be dubbed the "Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, Presented by Hillyard."
"This opens a new era for Missouri Western men's basketball, and what a way to usher it in by bringing one of the premier small college basketball events to St. Joseph," said Missouri Western Athletics Director Josh Looney. "The Hall of Fame Classic is a perfect fit for our community's rich basketball history, a history in which Hillyard has played a significant role. We look forward to hosting a tournament field packed with premier NCAA D-II programs alongside some of the all-time greats visiting St. Joseph for their Hall of Fame induction."
The eight-team event will feature three teams that reached the D2 National Semifinals this past year, including national champion FSU along with runner-up Northern State (S.D.) and Queens (N.C.). The field includes both the 2017 and 2018 national champions in Northwest Missouri State and Ferris State along with the runner-up from both seasons in Fairmont State and Northern State. Also in the field along with Queens is Tarleton State (Texas) and William Jewell (Mo.) in addition to host Missouri Western.
"Small College Basketball is excited to move to St. Joseph for the Hall of Fame Induction and Hall of Fame Classic," said SCB Founder John McCarthy. "We are proud to partner with Missouri Western State University and the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring the national spotlight to their community. Additionally, we are very excited that Hillyard has agreed to serve as the lead sponsor for the events. With their deep history in basketball, this is a logical fit, and we are truly grateful."
"For a variety of reasons, St. Joseph is an excellent fit for the Hall of Fame Induction and Hall of Fame Classic," he added. "There is a wonderful sense of enthusiasm in the community, and we anticipate that they will fully embrace Small College Basketball in St. Joseph. I am grateful for all of the time, effort and enthusiasm from Missouri Western Athletic Director Josh Looney and Senior Associate Athletic Director Brett Esely, as they have been instrumental in this move to St. Joseph."
"With our rich heritage in the game of basketball, Hillyard is honored to be the sponsor for the 2018 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic," said Hillyard President Jim Carolus. "We're excited to bring the Classic to St. Joseph. It's a great opportunity for the community to get to see some great basketball and to honor the great players, coaches and contributors of the game."
Tables and tickets will be available through the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau shortly.
"It is always exciting to bring new events to St. Joseph," said Lindsay Bernard, from the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The Small College Basketball (SCB) Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Hall of Fame Classic will be very special and will leave a lasting impression on our community. We appreciate the work of Missouri Western Athletics, as they truly understand the importance of showcasing our beautiful city and the impact of sports tourism. The estimated economic impact for this weekend event is $278,550."
"The 2018 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, Presented by Hillyard, features some of the finest programs in all of NCAA Division II," said McCarthy. "We are very grateful to the NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner's Association for awarding the exemption, and for showing their support for the Hall of Fame Classic. We feel that, with the combination of the Hall of Fame Induction, the support of the Conference Commissioner's Association, the support of the St. Joseph's community, the right-sized arena, and of course, the high-quality participating teams, the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic is the finest in-season men's basketball event in the country."
The third installment of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame will include the following inductees: John Barnhill (Tennessee A&I), ML Carr (Guilford), Pat Douglass (Cal State Bakersfield), Philip Hutcheson (Lipscomb), Earl Jones (District of Columbia), Charles Oakley (Virginia Union), John Pierce (Lipscomb), Terry Porter (Wisconsin-Stevens Point), Leonard "Truck" Robinson (Tennessee State), Clarence Walker (Indiana State), Marvin Webster (Morgan State) and John Wooden (Coach).
"This is an incredibly impressive Hall of Fame Class," said McCarthy. "Each inductee is highly accomplished and has truly earned this honor. Our Hall of Fame Committee did a tremendous job of identifying a Hall of Fame Class that is worthy of induction into this highly prestigious Hall of Fame. This is only the third class of Hall of Famers, so these inductees are among only 39 players, coaches and contributors in the history of our game at the small college levels to be elected to the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. I sincerely congratulate each inductee, as this is a tremendous honor."
This past season, Ferris State captured the school's first national championship and also matched the all-time NCAA Division II record for victories in a season with a 38-1 campaign. FSU, which topped Northern State 71-69 in the national championship game in Sioux Falls, S.D., capped a magical season which saw the Bulldogs match the all-time NCAA Division II record for most wins in a year while finishing with a 38-1 mark.
FSU also won its second consecutive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Regular Season Championship, a fourth-straight GLIAC Tournament title and the Midwest Regional crown in 2017-18. The Bulldogs have presently made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament under Bronkema's direction.
The complete 2018-19 Bulldog men's basketball regular-season schedule will be announced in the near future.
The game schedule for the 2018 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, Presented by Hillyard, is as follows (all times Central):
Saturday, November 3
1:00 p.m. William Jewell vs. Queens (NC)
3:15 p.m. Fairmont State vs. Ferris State
5:30 p.m. Missouri Western vs. Tarleton State
7:45 p.m. Northwest Missouri State vs. Northern State
Sunday, November 4
1:00 p.m. William Jewell vs. Tarleton State
3:15 p.m. Missouri Western vs. Fairmont State
5:30 p.m. Northwest Missouri State vs. Ferris State
7:45 p.m. Northern State vs. Queens (NC)