Never has the KCAC Postseason Men’s Basketball Tournament been so wide open.
And with the new format this year -- only the top eight teams qualified -- there only appears to be one gimme in tonight’s opening round.
That would be in Sterling, where the KCAC champion Warriors -- who already have secured a spot in the national tournament -- host Bethel, which on Saturday ended a 10-game losing streak.
But the other three games -- including McPherson College hosting Southwestern at 7 p.m. at the Sport Center -- are intriguing to say the least.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 against the Moundbuilders this year, but in both games it took a big second half for Mac to win by double digits, 65-47 here and 78-65 in Winfield.
“Certainly playing anyone in our conference for the third time is tough, but it’s more about our focus overall than our opponent,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team won nine of its last 10 to finish 11-7 in the KCAC and 17-12 overall. “We have to keep doing the things that have gotten us where we are --  playing great defense and improved rebounding.  I'm glad we play at home. We have played well at home this last month and we hope to continue.”
And they will continue to be at home with a victory tonight. Mac would be matched Saturday afternoon against the winner of Bethany and Saint Mary, which clash tonight in Lindsborg. In the other game, Tabor hosts Friends, though Friends at this point is playing much better basketball, having won eight of its last 10 while the Bluejays have dropped their last four.
“I think there are some great matchups in the first round.  The Friends-Tabor game and University of Saint Mary at Bethany will both be close games, I think,” Swartzendruber said. “The tourney is certainly very balanced this year.”
For Mac to come away with a victory tonight, it must neutralize 6-11 David King in the post and keep athletic Chris Nelson off the glass. Also, Drennan Morrow is a home-run threat from 3-point, especially if he gets on a roll as he can make shots in bunches.
SWEDES HOST SPIRES -- Like McPherson College, Bethany is hosting a team it already owns two victories over.
Both games have been close, with Bethany winning the first meeting 82-74 and then capturing a 76-71 decision in the rematch.
Bethany had a strong finish, going 7-2 in its final nine KCAC games and is 13-15 overall.
The Swedes finished 11-7 in the KCAC, tied with McPherson College and Tabor for second, with Mac earning the first tie-breaker, then Bethany.
If the Swedes win tonight, they’ll either play Saturday at Mac or be home against Southwestern for a 2 p.m. matinee. Bethany has split with both Mac and Southwestern.