By Munpal Bal
Recently the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced it would continue playing for the 2020-2021 Men’s Basketball season. Naturally, several precautions will be taken to avoid Covid-19 cases amongst programs and players. However, officials are doing their best to keep the season rolling like usual, hoping to have the 83rd Annual National Championship still.
With that, it’s time to lay out our top picks and predictions for who to look out for during this upcoming season.
1 – Mid-America Christian: What seems like a no-brainer, not much explaining needs to be done to why Mid-America Christian ranks so high on our list. With a record 19-1 season to lead the district last season, no one seems to be able to stop Coach Josh Gamblin and his competitive squad. With seven returning seniors as well as some young talent, MACU should be a shoo-in for a high spot in district play once again.
The tenacious backcourt of guards Damarius Brooks (recorded the second-highest three-point field goal percentage in the NAIA) and Junior Jasiah Lewis (started 27 games and scored the third-most on the team for the season), MACU is stacked with its whole roster with talented scorers and excellent perimeter defense.
2 – Wayland Baptist: Being a top-five team in recent years and the conference leaders in the 2018-19 season, Wayland Baptist is no stranger to the spotlight. After placing fifth last year, Wayland should be in for another top 3 finish with a new roster with the same coaching premise. With good athleticism and senior leadership, Wayland should be looking to have a rebound season.
3 – John Brown: After a low performing 2017-18 season, John Brown University has put together two great seasons, ending as second place in the past two seasons, coming up just behind teams listed above them here. Their success has been found with the young core established in the 2018-19 season that led the team to a 15-7 conference record.
The team has only gained talent and experience. With a critical few recent additions, John Brown should have another high performing season led by their seniors and excellent perimeter shooting.
• Our Wild Card team is the University of North Texas at Dallas. As we wrote about them previously, this will be their inaugural season. Led by an elite coaching staff headed by former NBA veteran Josh Howard, there are no limits placed on them. Being a new team, there may be chemistry issues that will cause them to start slow. Nonetheless, the Trailblazers should have an exciting season.