PIKEVILLE – Fresh off winning the Mid-South Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament, the University of Pikeville is ranked second in the final NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 Poll of the regular season, national office officials announced on Wednesday.
The Bears (30-2) are in the No. 2 spot for the sixth straight week as they and No. 1 Cal State San Marcos both won their league tournaments to stay 1-2 in the rankings.
Pikeville had not won the tournament since 2003 and captured both the MSC Regular-Season and Tournament Championships in the same season for the first time since 2001.
Although the bid was already wrapped up for UPIKE, the NAIA also announced the 32 qualifiers for its national championship on Wednesday. Four MSC schools made the list, including Pikeville, Georgetown (Ky.), Cumberlands (Ky.) and St. Catharine (Ky.).
Georgetown, ranked 16th in this week’s poll, earned its bid by finishing as the runner-up in the MSC Tournament, while Cumberlands is ranked 24th and earned the eighth at-large bid and St. Catharine is the 12th at-large selection after receiving votes in the latest poll.
The 32-team field is made up of 17 automatic qualifiers, one host berth awarded to No. 14 Culver Stockton (Mo.) and 14 at-large selections.
Pikeville, which won the 2011 national championship, is making its eighth appearance at the national championship and is entering with its highest national ranking at No. 2. The Bears are 8-7 all time at the event with a title and two Fab Fours.
Rounding out the top five in the final regular-season poll of 2014 is William Carey (Miss.) at No. 3, Columbia (Mo.) at No. 4 and SAGU (Texas) taking the fifth spot.