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The Lakeland College men's basketball team will be playing for the program's second trip to the NCAA Tournament when the Muskies travel to Edgewood College in Madison Saturday for the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament championship game. Tip is at 2 p.m.
The winner of the game between the fifth-seeded Muskies (21-6) and the third-seeded Eagles (21-6) earns the NAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Lakeland is hoping the third time will be the charm on Saturday. Lakeland and Edgewood met twice during the regular season with Edgewood earning the upper hand in both contests. The Muskies suffered an 86-68 loss on Dec. 7 and an 86-81 setback on Jan. 31 in Madison. Junior Jake Schwarz led Lakeland in both contests with 13 and 26 points, respectively.
The third time was the charm in the NAC tournament semifinals on Thursday as the Muskies upended tournament top seed and host Concordia University Wisconsin, 85-83 in overtime. CUW had beaten Lakeland in both regular season meetings.
The Muskies snapped the North Division champion's seven-game win streak behind a huge effort from senior point guard Josh Regal, who finished with a game-high 25 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
Lakeland is seeking its first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2003-04 team won the Lake Michigan Conference Tournament. Lakeland is also seeking its second NAC Tournament title. The 2007-08 team won the NAC crown, beating the top three seeds all in overtime games on the road. Current head coach Aaron Aanonsen was an assistant coach for that team, and Regal's older brother, Aaron, was that team's starting point guard.
A win tomorrow would give the Muskies 22 for the season, the most since becoming an NCAA institution in 1997.
Saturday's matchup has the makings of an up-tempo affair. The Eagles shoot 49.9 percent from the field, which leads the NAC, and hit 37.8 percent from 3-point range, one spot behind the Muskies, who rank first with 38.7 percent.
Lakeland, which is sixth in the nation scoring offense (90.2 points), looks to push the tempo tomorrow and make its goal of winning the NAC Tournament a reality. Defensively, Lakeland will have to shut down Edgewood seniors Ben Wisniewski and Kent Faurote who combined average more than 30 points per game.
Live video streaming and live stats are available for tomorrow's game and can be found here: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/edgewood.portal#