The race for eighth place in the MIAA involving the Northwest Missouri State women and two others will be decided on the final day of the regular season.
Currently in a three-way tie for eighth, the Bearcats need two upsets to occur in order to finish in that spot and host a first round MIAA Tournament game.
The essential requirements entail Northwest winning their regular season finale over No. 25 Truman State Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Bearcat Arena and Missouri Southern losing there's to Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla.
Both games will be going on simultaneously.
Southern (13-12, 7-10) holds the tiebreaker over fellow eighth place occupants Northwest (13-12, 7-10) and Missouri Western (14-11, 7-10) having beat both during the regular season.
A Lion win assures them of eighth place, and if the Bearcats win their game, they would travel to Joplin for an 8-9 matchup in the first round of the tournament Tuesday night.
A Northwest loss opens the door for either Missouri Western or Southwest Baptist to pass them.
The Griffons host SBU Saturday in St. Joseph, needing a win and both Southern and Northwest to lose in order to finish eighth. Northwest holds the tiebreaker with Western, but not with SBU due to a regular season loss.
SBU can only finish ahead of Northwest with a win and a Bearcat loss, however, the Purple Bearcats can not finish higher than ninth.
In the event the Bearcats drop to 10th, they would have a much tougher first round game against either Fort Hays State or Pittsburg State on the road.
No matter how it shakes out, head coach Mark Kellogg views his team as a potential trouble-maker come tournament time.
"I think if we're at home we're more dangerous, but I don't think people want to play us," said Kellogg. "We're one of the only teams that plays zone and we can make shots. In a win or go home situation, it comes down to who can make more shots."
After a five-game losing skid, Northwest has righted itself in the last week with back-to-back double-digit wins over Missouri Western and Nebraska-Kearney.
The Bearcats shot over 57 percent in Wednesday's 71-52 romp at UNK and scored over 70 points for the first time since a 76-74 loss to SBU Jan. 22.
"We're capable of beating anybody at this time," said Kellogg. "All the experience our kids have had has allowed them to grow up. We're not making as many of the same mistakes. I think we're a lot more prepared to handle different styles of play."
Truman State (19-6, 12-5) represents the best team the Bearcats have played since the conclusion of the Washburn-Fort Hays four-game stretch.
Page 2 of 2 - Ranked fifth in the Central Region, the Bulldogs have a lot at stake as well, needing to win in order to finish fourth and gain a first round bye in the MIAA Tournament. They are currently tied with Emporia State for fourth, but own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Bulldogs, who lost to No. 13 UCM 58-56 Wednesday night, lead the MIAA in field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage. They also rank second in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense.
A veteran team, Truman has two double-figure scorers and two others that average better than nine points per game.
Senior guard Becka McHenry leads TSU in scoring with 13.0 points per game. The MIAA leader in three-point percentage, Allie Norton averages 11.1 ppg and has made a team-high 65 three-pointers.
Nicole Gloor (9.6 ppg) and Amy Briggs (9.2 ppg) are the team's two other main offensive options.
"Their guards are really, really good," said Kellogg. "They are the best three-point shooting team in the league and they shoot it at a high percentage. They're as balanced of a group as we've faced all year."
Northwest has three sophomores that average in the low end of double-figures: Maggie Marnin (11.4 ppg), Ashleigh Nelson (10.5 ppg) and Annie Mathews (10.0 ppg).
Marnin tied her career-high with 19 points on 9-10 shooting Wednesday night. Freshman guard Tember Schechinger (14 points), junior reserve guard Meridee Scott (13 points) and junior point guard Monique Stevens also were in double-figures.
Northwest's lone two seniors—reserves Alexis Boeh and Ashley Thayer—will be honored before Saturday's game.