Division II Northwest Missouri State wins title in hoops and football in same season, a first in D-II

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The second weekend of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is at a fever pitch, as four teams will punch their tickets to Phoenix for next weekend’s Final Four.

Meanwhile at the Division II level, their basketball tournament wrapped up on Saturday. Coming out on top was Northwest Missouri State, defeating Fairmont State (WV) 71-61. They made both program history and NCAA history in doing so.

The Bearcats on the hardwood finished the season with a record of 35-1 to capture their first men’s basketball championship. It comes after three straight seasons of losing in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Their current string of deep tournament runs can be compared to the Bearcats football program. This past December, NW Missouri was named kings of the gridiron in Division II. It was the second straight title, fourth in eight years, and a D-II best sixth in program history.

And in sweeping the major fall and winter sports, they become the first D-II school in NCAA history to win a football and men’s basketball title in the same season.

They join some very impressive company. That feat has only been accomplished twice at the Division I level – Oklahoma State was the pioneers, doing so in 1945-46. Then it was Florida most recently in 2006-07. In fact, the Gators had two hoops titles (’06 and ’07) and the football crown (’07) all in a span of exactly one calendar year, plus one day.

Now with the winter sports winding down and the spring sports gearing up, Northwest Missouri can join even more elite company. Only one school at any of the three major divisions of NCAA has ever took home a football championship, men’s basketball title AND reign supreme in baseball.

The Warhawks of Wisconsin-Whitewater one-upped both Florida and Oklahoma State back in 2013-14. They actually one four titles in that academic season. Their women’s gymnastics team was crowned champions as well that year, as part of the NCGA (National Collegiate Gymnastics Association) at the D-III level.

Hats off to the Bearcats of Northwest Missouri. Now the pressure is on their baseball program to come through! So far, a solid start to 2017, a record of 15-8 and winners of four straight games.