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Today we should get the confirmation on the news that a lot of us have been waiting six years to hear.

At 5 p.m. this afternoon, the NAIA will reveal its brackets for the 2019 Division I Men's Basketball Tournament on Facebook Live and -- barring a near cataclysmic event -- the John Brown men's basketball team should be among the 32 teams in the field.

A watch party is scheduled to take place at the Walker Student Center beginning at 4:45 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

It should only be a formality at this point.

The Golden Eagles finished second in the Sooner Athletic Conference regular season with a record of 15-7 in conference play and 23-10 overall. JBU advanced to the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament championship, where it was nipped 74-73 by tournament host Oklahoma City on March 2. Also, JBU is ranked No. 18 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll and has been ranked for much of the second half of the season.

The Golden Eagles are headed to Kansas City next week. The only questions are will they play their opening round game on Wednesday or Thursday, what time is the game and who will they play?

The last time the Golden Eagles played in the national tournament was in March 2013. That team was coached by Clark Sheehy, who left for the Southwest Baptist (Mo.) coaching job after the 2013-14 season.

Jason Beschta arrived in the summer of 2014 after leading Oklahoma Wesleyan to the NAIA Division II National Tournament Round of 16.

Beschta reached the Division II tournament -- then held in Branson, Mo., and now is in Sioux Falls, S.D. -- as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

However, his first four JBU teams fell short of reaching Kansas City. This Golden Eagles team will break that trend.

I'm happy for Beschta, who's teams have improved their conference wins each of the last four seasons from 5-13 in 2015-16 to 7-11 in 2016-17, 10-10 in 2017-18 to 15-7 this season.

But I'm really thrilled for seniors like Josh Bowling, Jake Caudle and Benjamin Smith. All three of those guys were freshmen on the Golden Eagles' 2015-16 squad that finished 13-19 overall, 5-13 in conference play and at one point lost eight straight conference games.

JBU has come a very long way since then. The Golden Eagles had a fantastic season so far, but honestly they've left a lot on the table. A 15-7 conference record could easily be something like 18-4, 19-3 or even 20-2, which would have made them regular season conference champions. On only two occasions -- at home against Oklahoma City and at home against Panhandle State -- were the Golden Eagles soundly beaten.

John Brown's best basketball is still out there, and today we find out who's up next.

-- Graham Thomas is the managing editor for the Herald-Leader. He can be reached at gthomas@nwadg.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Sports on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: NAIA reveal is today but JBU men should be in

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