Nova Southeastern wins the 2023 DII men’s basketball national championship
Nova Southeastern wins title in record-setting fashion
Finally. After years of coming close, coach Jim Crutchfield is a DII men’s basketball national champion as the Sharks are champions for the first time in program history. Nova Southeastern defeated West Liberty, 111-101, in the highest scoring championship game in history and one of the more memorable title games in the history of the division.
Nova Southeastern becomes the sixth undefeated champion in DII men’s basketball history. The Sharks also became just the second team to score 100 points in the championship game, joining Virginia Union’s 1992 championship team. The 111 points are not only the new DII championship game record, but the most points scored in any college basketball championship game, men's or women's.
The storylines heading into this game were bountiful. Nova Southeastern head coach Jim Crutchfield became just the third DII men’s basketball coach to take two different programs to the championship game. The other team? The squad staring him down on the other side of the court. He led West Liberty to a national runners-up finish in 2014 when current head coach Ben Howlett was his assistant.
This was the first time the two top scoring teams faced each other in the DII men’ s basketball championship game. And the two teams certainly filled the bill. The first half went to Nova Southeastern, which came out of the high-scoring half with a 55-48 lead, the most combined points in the first half of a DII men’s basketball championship game. Bevo Francis finalist RJ Sunahara came out on fire, scoring nine of the first 15 points of the game and finishing the half with 20 as the Sharks set the DII championship game record for most first half points.
West Liberty was a bit apprehensive at first and it took about 10 minutes to get comfortable and knock the jitters out. Bryce Butler, another Bevo Francis finalist, was held to just one shot in the first 10 minutes of the game, and the Hilltoppers need him going to get that high-octane motor rolling.
Dallas Graziani provided a spark for the Sharks when West Liberty pulled it close, hitting a pair of big 3s and getting fouled on a third attempt. A pretty lob that Sunahara finished off with a dunk certainly helped keep the momentum going. But the half ended in a scoring flurry from the suddenly hot Hilltoppers and Sharks. Step back 3s that hit nothing but net from Zach Rasile and Will Yoakum — who had a monster first half himself — were exchanged like blows in a heavyweight match to close the half in one of the most exciting minutes of play all season. The two teams combined to go 13 for 26 from behind the arc in the first half.
And that was just the first half. Act II was equally intense.
The second half was much more physical, with a pair of flagrant fouls from West Liberty in about four minutes to start the half. Every point was earned, as bodies hit the floor on every drive, with neither team wanting to relent and more than 50 combined fouls between the two teams.
But even that couldn’t stop these high-flying offenses.
Butler was sensational in the loss and played hard to the final whistle, almost single handedly keeping the Hilltoppers in the game. He sparked a late 11-2 run that brought the Hilltoppers in striking distance. He finished with 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting and nine rebounds. Chris Montague had a big day from 3, going 5 for 7 from behind the arc and finishing with 19.
Inevitably, there was too much foul trouble for West Liberty to overcome. Yoakum, who found himself in foul trouble early in the second half, was used as a free throw specialist, and finished with 31 points, capping a brilliant postseason with his third 30-point game in his final four tries. Sunahara fouled out, but still finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Graziani’s engine never stopped, finishing with 24 points and nine assists.
It was a thrilling game from start to finish, one that there were no ties or lead changes. The top two offenses in the land delivered one of the most memorable performances in DII Men's Elite Eight history, and the Sharks walk away the winners of the 2023 national championship.
Bracket, scores and live streams for the championship
The 2023 DII men's basketball tournament is headed to its national championship game in Evansville, Indiana, on March 25. It'll be Nova Southeastern against West Liberty for the title. Wayne Cavadi previews and predicts the title game here.
- Click or tap here for the interactive bracket
- Get the live scoreboard by clicking here
- Watch game recaps here
- The title game will be at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 25 and is on CBS
- You can learn 1 thing (and often more) to know about every team in the Elite Eight, in Wayne Cavadi's article here.
Northwest Missouri State won the 2022 national championship by beating Augusta 67-58 in the title game.
The NCAA Division II Men’s Committee announced today the field of 64 teams that will compete in the 2023 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship.
Twenty-three conferences have been awarded automatic qualification. The remaining 41 teams were selected at large by the committee.
Seven of the eight regional tournaments, consisting of eight teams each, will be conducted March 11, 12 and 14 while one regional tournament also consisting of eight teams will be conducted March 10, 11 and 13. The eight regional champions will advance to the quarterfinals in conjunction with the 2023 NCAA Division II Men’s Elite Eight. The quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games will be conducted at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, March 21, 23 and 25.
See the full list of selections by clicking here.
How to watch the 2023 DII men's basketball selection show
The 2023 DII men's basketball selection show is Sunday, March 5 at 11 p.m. ET on NCAA.com. The bracket will be revealed here following the conclusion of the selection show.
Stayed tuned to this page for the latest 2023 DII men's basketball tournament updates.
When: 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 5
Where: Live here on NCAA.com
DII men's basketball championship history
Northwest Missouri State won the 2022 DII men's basketball championship over Augusta last season. That gave the Bearcats their fourth title in the last five seasons.
Wheaton (Ill.) won the first DII men's basketball championship in 1957.
|2022||Northwest Missouri State (34-5)||Ben McCollum||67-58||Augusta||Evansville, Ind.|
|2021||Northwest Missouri State
|Ben McCollum||80-54||West Texas A&M||Evansville, Ind.|
|2020||Canceled due to Covid-19||--||--||--||--|
|2019||Northwest Missouri State
|Ben McCollum||64-58||Point Loma||Evansville, Ind.|
|2018||Ferris State (38-1)||Andy Bronkema||71-69||Northern State||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2017||Northwest Missouri St. (35-1)||Ben McCollum||71-61||Fairmont State||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2016||Augustana [S.D.] (34-2)||Tom Billeter||90-81||Lincoln Memorial||Frisco, Tex.|
|2015||Florida Southern (36-1)||Linc Darner||77-62||Indiana (Pa.)||Evansville, Ind.|
|2014||Central Missouri (30-5)||Kim Anderson||84-77||West Liberty||Evansville, Ind.|
|2013||Drury (31-4)||Steve Hesser||74-73||Metro State||Atlanta, Ga.|
|2012||Western Washington (31-5)||Brad Jackson||72-65||Montevallo||Highland Heights, Ky.|
|2011||Bellarmine (33-2)||Scott Davenport||71-68||BYU-Hawaii||Springfield, Mass.|
|2010||Cal Poly Pomona (28-6)||Greg kamansky||65-53||Indiana (Pa.)||Springfield, Mass.|
|2009||Findlay (36-0)||Ron Niekamp||56-53 (ot)||Cal Poly Pomona||Springfield, Mass.|
|2008||Winona State (38-1)||Mike Leaf||87-76||Augusta State||Springfield, Mass.|
|2007||Barton (31-5)||Ron Lievense||77-75||Winona State||Springfield, Mass.|
|2006||Winona State (32-4)||Mike Leaf||73-61||Virginia Union||Springfield, Mass.|
|2005||Virginia Union (30-4)||Dave Robbins||63-58||Bryant||Grand Forks, N.D.|
|2004||Kennesaw State (35-4)||Tony Ingle||84-59||Southern Indiana||Bakersfield, Calif.|
|2003||Northeastern State (32-3)||Larry Gipson||75-64||**Kentucky Wesleyan||Lakeland, Fla.|
|2002||Metro State (29-6)||Mike Dunlap||80-72||Kentucky Wesleyan||Evansville, Ind.|
|2001||Kentucky Wesleyan (31-3)||Ray Harper||72-63||Washburn||Bakersfield, Calif.|
|2000||Metro State (33-4)||Mike Dunlap||97-79||Kentucky Wesleyan||Louisville, Ky.|
|1999||Kentucky Wesleyan (35-2)||Ray Harper||75-60||Metro State||Louisville, Ky.|
|1998||UC Davis (31-2)||Bob Williams||83-77||Kentucky Wesleyan||Louisville, Ky.|
|1997||Cal State Bakersfield (29-4)||Pat Douglass||57-56||Northern Kentucky||Louisville, Ky.|
|1996||Fort Hays State (34-0)||Gary Garner||70-63||Northern Kentucky||Louisville, Ky.|
|1995||Southern Indiana (29-4)||Bruce Pearl||71-63||UC Riverside||Louisville, Ky.|
|1994||Cal State Bakersfield (27-6)||Pat Douglass||92-86||Southern Indiana||Springfield, Mass.|
|1993||Cal State Bakersfield (33-0)||Pat Douglass||85-72||Troy||Springfield, Mass.|
|1992||Virginia Union (30-3)||Dave Robbins||100-75||Bridgeport||Springfield, Mass.|
|1991||North Alabama (29-4)||Gary Elliot||79-72||Bridgeport||Springfield, Mass.|
|1990||Kentucky Wesleyan (31-2)||Wayne Chapman||93-79||Cal State Bakersfield||Springfield, Mass.|
|1989||North Carolina Central (28-4)||Michael Bernard||73-46||Southeast Missouri State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1988||Massachusetts-Lowell (27-7)||Don Doucette||75-72||Alaska Anchorage||Springfield, Mass.|
|1987||Kentucky Wesleyan (28-5)||Wayne Chapman||92-74||Gannon||Springfield, Mass.|
|1986||Sacred Heart (30-4)||Dave Bike||93-87||Southeast Missouri State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1985||Jacksonville State (31-1)||Bill Jones||74-73||South Dakota State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1984||Central Missouri (29-3)||Lynn Nance||81-77||Saint Augustine's||Springfield, Mass.|
|1983||Wright State (18-4)||Ralph Underhill||92-73||District of Columbia||Springfield, Mass.|
|1982||District of Columbia (25-5)||Wil Jones||73-63||Florida Southern||Springfield, Mass.|
|1981||Florida Southern (24-8)||Hal Wissel||73-68||Mount Saint Mary's||Springfield, Mass.|
|1980||Virginia Union (26-4)||Dave Robbins||80-74||SUNYIT||Springfield, Mass.|
|1979||North Alabama (22-9)||Bill Jones||64-50||Green Bay||Springfield, Mo.|
|1978||Cheyney (26-2)||John Chaney||47-40||Green Bay||Springfield, Mo.|
|1977||Chattanooga (27-5)||Ron shumate||71-62||Randolph-Macon||Springfield, Mass.|
|1976||Puget Sound (27-7)||Don Zech||83-74||Chattanooga||Evansville, Ind.|
|1975||Old Dominion (25-6)||Sonny Allen||76-74||New Orleans||Evansville, Ind.|
|1974||Morgan State (28-5)||Nathaniel Frazier||67-52||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1973||Kentucky Wesleyan (24-6)||Bob Jones||78-76 (ot)||Tennessee State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1972||Roanoke (28-4)||Charles Moir||84-72||Akron||Evansville, Ind.|
|1971||Evansville (22-8)||Arad McCutchan||97-82||Old Dominion||Evansville, Ind.|
|1970||Philadelphia University (29-2)||Herb Magee||76-65||Tennessee State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1969||Kentucky Wesleyan (25-5)||Bob Daniels||75-71||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1968||Kentucky Wesleyan (28-3)||Bob Daniels||63-52||Indiana State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1967||Winston-Salem (30-2)||C.E. Gaines||77-74||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1966||Kentucky Wesleyan (24-6)||Guy Strong||54-51||Southern Illinois||Evansville, Ind.|
|1965||Evansville (29-0)||Arad McCutchan||85-82 (ot)||Southern Illinois||Evansville, Ind.|
|1964||Evansville (26-3)||Arad McCutchan||72-59||Akron||Evansville, Ind.|
|1963||South Dakota State (22-5)||Jim Iverson||44-42||Wittenberg||Evansville, Ind.|
|1962||Mount Saint Mary's (24-6)||James Phelan||58-57 (ot)||Sacramento State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1961||Wittenberg (25-4)||Ray Mears||42-38||Southeast Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1960||Evansville (25-4)||Arad McCutchan||90-69||Chapman||Evansville, Ind.|
|1959||Evansville (21-6)||Arad McCutchan||83-67||Missouri State||Evansville, Ind.|
|1958||South Dakota (22-5)||Duane Clodfelter||75-53||Saint Michael's||Evansville, Ind.|
|1957||Wheaton (Ill.) (28-1)||Lee Pfund||89-65||Kentucky Wesleyan||Evansville, Ind.|
**Student-athletes declared ineligible