1954 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
NAIA Men's Division I|
|Finals Site||Municipal Auditorium
Kansas City, Missouri
|Champions||St. Benedict's (Kan.) (1st title, 1st title game,
1st Final Four)
|Runner-Up||Western Illinois (1st title game,
1st Final Four)
|Semifinalists||Southwest Missouri State (3rd Final Four)
Arkansas Tech (1st Final Four)
|Coach of the Year||Sam Hindsman (Arkansas Tech)|
|Chuck Taylor MVP||Jerry Anderson (Southwest Missouri State)|
|NAIA Men's Division I Tournaments
The 1954 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament was held in March at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The 17th annual NAIA basketball tournament featured 32 teams playing in a single-elimination format. The Southwest Missouri State University Bears were out to claim an unprecedented three straight national title. But Western Illinois handed them an upset in the National Semifinals, and the Bears had to settle for 3rd place. This left the title open for a new champion. It was the first time two new teams met in the championship game since 1947. The teams that played in the national championship game, were Western Illinois, and St. Benedict's (Kan.). St. Benedict's would defeat Western Illinois by a score of 62 to 56. It was the first time these two teams had played in tournament history.
Southwest Missouri State, now Missouri State and the previous two time champion would settle for a third place victory over Arkansas Tech 75 to 61.
The 1954 tournament would see the beginning of one of the best players the NAIA had ever seen. Jim Spivey of Southeastern Oklahoma would begin his journey to most all time free throws made, and 4th on the all time scoring list. It would also be the first year for the awarding of the Coach of the Year Award. This award goes to the best coach in the NAIA over the past year, which is not necessarily the tournament winning coach. The first award went to Sam Hindsman of Arkansas Tech.
Awards and honors
Many of the records set by the 1954 tournament have been broken, and many of the awards were established much later:
- Leading scorer est. 1963
- Leading rebounder est. 1963
- Charles Stevenson Hustle Award est. 1958
- Player of the Year est. 1994
- Most free throws made; career: 120 free throws made by Jim Spivey of Southeastern Oklahoma State (1954,55,56,57). In 1954, Spivey began his four year trek to tournament record.
- Most tournament appearances: Georgetown (Ky.) 1954 would be the first of 28, as of 2009, appearances to the NAIA Tournament
- All-time scoring leader; first appearance: James Spivey, 4th Southeastern Oklahoma State (1954,55,56,57), 13 games, 133 field goals, 120 free throws, totaling 386 points, 29.7 average per game.
- All-time scoring leader; second appearance: James Miller, 18th, East Texas State (1953,54,55), 13 games, 103 field goals, 40 free throws, totaling 246 points, 18.9 average per game.
- All-time scoring leader; third appearance: E.C. O’Neal, 9th, Arkansas Tech (1952,53,54,55), 13 games, 122 field goals, 43 free throws, totaling 287 points, 22.1 average per game.
1954 NAIA bracket
|First Round||Second Round||Elite Eight||NAIA National Semifinals||NAIA National Championship|
|-||Southwest Missouri State||77|
|-||East Tennessee State||72|
|-||Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.)||104|
|-||East Texas State||59*|
|-||East Texas State||72|
|-||East Texas State||79|
|-||Rio Grande (Ohio)||90|
|-||Southeastern Oklahoma State||68|
|-||Morris Harvey (W.Va.)||68|
|-||St. Peter's (N.J.)||76|
|-||Lawrence Tech (Mich.)||75|
|-||St. Benedict's (Kan.)||68|
|-||East Carolina (N.C.)||61|
|-||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||77|
- * denotes overtime.
3rd place game
The third place game featured the losing team from the national semifinalist to determine 3rd and 4th places in the tournament. This game was played until 1988.
|NAIA Third Place Game|