SPU men’s basketball prepares for upcoming GNAC tournament

Team ranks third out of ten in conference

Mahad Abdulqadir, staff writer

On March 2, Seattle Pacific University’s men’s basketball will face Northwest Nazarene, kicking off the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament for men’s basketball. SPU will be the third seed in the tournament after finishing the season with a 17-10 overall record and 12-6 record in the GNAC. 

The tournament will hold six of the 10 schools in the conference: sixth seed Northwest Nazarene University, fifth seed Western Oregon University, fourth seed Central Washington University, third seed Seattle Pacific University, second seed Montana State University Billings and first seed Saint Martin’s University. Whoever wins the GNAC tournament championship will not only be crowned conference champion but will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament to compete for the national championship. 

The top two teams, Saint Martin’s University and Montana State University Billings get a bye into the second round, and the schools ranked three through six clash in the first round. If SPU beats Northwest Nazarene, they advance to face MSU Billings. So far in the season, SPU is 1-1 against NNU. SPU beat NNU on Dec. 29, 79-69, but lost against them on Jan. 28, 62-78. 

Saint Martin’s University is the strongest team in the tournament. Although SPU beat them 92-87 on Jan. 14, they lost to them 76-94 on Feb. 9. Saint Martin’s is 23-5 overall. Regardless of their number one spot in the standings and their record, SPU has beaten them once this season and can very well do so again, one reason SPU Head Coach Grant Leep is confident in his team entering the tournament. 

“We’re obviously looking forward to it,” Leep said. “But then going into that tournament, we know that we can beat any team that’s there but [also] that any team there can beat us as well. So we need to make sure that we’re prepared and playing as hard as we can, so we can get it done.”

While Leep may be confident, he is not taking anything for granted. 

“It’s really hard to say, our league is always so tough. When we go, we’re preparing to stay and win three games. I mean, that’s what we have to prepare for. But we also need to understand the flip of that and that anything can happen in this [tournament],” Leep said. 

SPU has beaten all of the other five schools participating in the tournament at least once this season. As the number three team overall, SPU is a strong team going into the GNAC tournament. 

SPU’s first GNAC tournament contest against NNU will tip off at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, at Carver Gymnasium in Bellingham, WA.