The Gustavus men’s basketball team will open post-season play with a MIAC Playoff Quarterfinal game tonight at 7:30 pm against St. Olaf in Northfield. The Gusties, who enter with a record of 13-12 overall and 11-9 in MIAC play, are the #5 seed, while the host Oles enter with a mark of 17-8 overall and 12-8 in league play. The winner of the contest will advance to the MIAC Playoff Semifinals on Friday at either #1 seed Carleton or #2 seed St. Thomas. The Gusties and Oles split the regular season series as Gustavus won 74-66 in St. Peter on December 6 and St. Olaf won 80-64 in Northfield on January 26.
Gustavus is making its 21st appearance in the 27-year history of the MIAC Basketball Tournament. The Gusties have compiled an all-time MIAC Playoff record of 26-10. The 21 appearances rank second all-time to St. Thomas with 24. This is the Gusties 11th consecutive appearance in the league tournament, which also ranks second in current streaks to St. Thomas with 12. The Gusties lost in the MIAC Playoff Championship game last year to Carleton 78-71 in overtime. Saint Olaf will be making its sixth appearance all-time in the MIAC Playoffs having posted a record of 1-5 in its previous five appearances. The Oles last appearance was in the 2006-07 season when they defeated Bethel 81-79 in the quarterfinals and then lost to St. Thomas 77-61 in the semifinals.
This will be the third meeting between Gustavus and St. Olaf in the MIAC Playoffs and the second time the two long-time rivals have played in Northfield. The first ever meeting was in the 1988-89 season when the Gusties defeated the Oles 67-59 in a semifinal game in Northfield (the tournament was a four-team field at that time). The second meeting was in the 1997-98 season with Gustavus claiming a 60-54 win in a semifinal game in St. Peter (again with the four-team format).
The MIAC Playoff Tournament moved to a six-team format in the 2002-03 season. The Gusties are 3-0 in their three quarterfinal appearances defeating Bethel 73-49 in the 2005-06 season, and again in the 2006-07 season 70-59, and then St. John’s 71-68 in the 2008-09 season. The Oles are 1-1 in their two quarterfinal appearances losing to Bethel 82-54 in the 2002-03 season and then defeating Bethel 81-79 in the 2006-07 season.
Entering today’s game, Gustavus ranks fourth in the MIAC in scoring offense at 72.2 points per game, while St. Olaf ranks third at 73.4 ppg. On the defensive side, Gustavus ranks sixth allowing 70.5 points per game, while St. Olaf ranks seventh at 71.2 ppg.