By 4:00 today, McPherson College’s men’s basketball team could be on its way to the NAIA National Tournament.
If the Bulldogs defeat intra-county rival Bethany College at 2 p.m. at the Sport Center, and Sterling takes care of business against Tabor, Mac would be on its way to Point Lookout, Mo., for the second year in a row.
If Mac and Sterling both win, it basically would render Monday’s 6 p.m. KCAC championship game at Park City’s Hartman Arena insignificant, because both teams would already be qualified, though it would be a rubber match since Mac and Sterling have split.
If Mac wins today and Sterling loses, then it would be the Bulldogs and Tabor meeting Monday at Hartman with the national berth on the line and the right to join Sterling in Missouri.
But first there’s the matter of the Swedes, who -- like Mac -- have been playing fabulous basketball.
The Swedes have won eight of their last 10, one of those two losses on Feb. 12 at the Sport Center, 81-68.
“It should be a great atmosphere,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, after his team took care of Southwestern 83-68 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. “Our students have been great and we hope for another great crowd. They’ve really been into the games.”
The 18-12 Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11, the only hiccup coming last Saturday at Sterling. In the quarterfinal victory over Southwestern, Samson Shivers and Aaron Frazier scored 22 and 21 points respectively. Mac led just 36-33 at the half, but just as it has done so many times in recent games, it wore down the Moundbuilders with its deep bench.
Bethany, 14-15, advanced with a 69-66 overtime victory over Saint Mary, a game the Swedes had under control at the half, 32-21. But Saint Mary charged back to get the game into overtime, but from there it was Clayton Goggins who sparked the Swedes to the win.
It should be a wildly entertaining game since the Swedes lead the KCAC in scoring, with Mac second. Bethany has a reservoir of weapons, led by guards Goggins, Trey Beachum and Quenton Jennings, and big men Chris Dean and Haydon Parks. All five average in double figures.
 Then there’s the always streaky Jack Sadowy, who’s among the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the KCAC and combines with Dean to lead an explosive bench.
The Bulldogs are looking to advance to the championship game for the first time since 1996. They are one of only three teams never to win the tourney title, the others being Saint Mary and Bethel.