On Thursday night, following No. 20 Central Missouri’s (29-5) shocking, 71-69 win over No. 1-ranked Metro State, CO, No. 7 West Liberty held off No. 5 South Carolina-Aiken, 86-83, in the other NCAA Division II Elite Eight national semifinal. The two teams now meet today at 2 p.m. CT (CBS television) for the national championship.
The Mules have an opportunity to keep the national title in the state of Missouri, after Drury University knocked off Metro State in last year’s final down in Atlanta, GA.
The Hilltoppers’ last four wins have come against nationally-ranked opponents including the defending champion Panthers from Springfield–No. 15 Indiana (PA), No. 2 East Stroudsburg, No. 8 Drury and No. 5 USC-Aiken. Their head coach, Jim Crutchfield (272-48, .850), has the highest winning percentage in college basketball history for any coach with 10 or more seasons at an NCAA school.
The Hilltoppers are playing in their fourth straight Elite Eight and have advanced to the Final Four in three of the last four seasons.
In his 12th season at the University of Central Missouri, Kim Anderson has built the Mules’ program into one of the most respected programs in the MIAA and all of NCAA Division II. He has won more games than any other coach in school history with a 244-90 (.731) career record. He has led the Mules to two Final Fours, and their first championship game since 1984.
Anderson’s .731 overall winning percentage ranks fourth among all active NCAA-II coaches and 20th all-time.