It’s another huge weekend inside the DeSimone Arena for the UW-Parkside men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Both teams conclude their regular seasons with Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games against Wayne State (Mich.) on Thursday night (women 5:30 p.m., men 7:30 p.m.) and Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) on Saturday afternoon (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).
A GLIAC title and a No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament are on the line for the men’s team. If the Rangers win both games this weekend, they will earn at least a share of the GLIAC regular-season title and would be the No. 1 seed for the GLIAC Tournament via tiebreakers, meaning they wouldn’t have to leave the DeSimone Arena through the conference tournament.
The women’s team, meanwhile, is looking to secure a home game for the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinals as they jockey for position in the top portion of the GLIAC regular-season standings.
If the implications of this weekend’s games aren’t enough, both Thursday and Saturday will feature giveaway promotions for those in attendance.
Thursday will be “80s Night” inside the DeSimone Arena, featuring exclusive student T-shirt and sunglasses giveaways. The clock will also be thrown back on ticket and concession prices, with premium and general chairback seats starting at $8 and beer at the concession stand at just $3. Fans can also get hot dogs, nachos, soft drinks and popcorn for just $1 and can take advantage of 20 percent off on everything in the Ranger Store. Additionally, there will be prizes valued at $200 for the best-dressed fan and student.
Then, Saturday is “Jockey Day at the Games,” featuring a T-shirt giveaway for season ticket holders, giveaway mini-pack ticket holders, those who pre-order their tickets in the chairback premium/general seats and those who arrive early to the games (supplies are limited). There will also be inflatables for kids to play on between games, and all fans are invited to Rustic Road Brewing Company for the last Saturday postgame party of the regular season, following the conclusion of the men’s game.
Fans can get their tickets by visiting ParksideRangers.com/Tickets.
Here’s a closer look at the games this weekend:
This weekend is exactly why you play college basketball, and the Rangers are hoping to take full advantage of an incredible opportunity.
Parkside (19-7 overall) enters the weekend tied with Ferris State (Mich.) atop the GLIAC at 12-4 in conference play, with Northern Michigan alone in third place at 12-5 in the conference. So, no matter what happens elsewhere in the GLIAC, with two wins this weekend, the Rangers will secure at least a share of their first regular-season conference title since the 2018-19 season. If Parkside wins twice and Ferris State loses once, then the Rangers would be the outright GLAIC regular-season champs.
Even by tying Ferris State and/or Northern Michigan for first place, however, Parkside would be the No. 1 seed for the GLIAC Tournament via tiebreakers. The Rangers will already be at home for the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 1, but they would also then host the semifinals and championship game on Saturday, March 4, and Sunday, March 5, as the No. 1 seed if they advance through the quarterfinals.
The winner of the GLIAC Tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Parkside is looking for its first national tournament appearance since the 2016-17 season, the last of its five consecutive national tournament berths.
“Our players have worked extremely hard to get to the position we are in,” Parkside head men’s basketball coach Luke Reigel said. “Now our job is to take advantage of it. To be getting ready for the final weekend of the regular season, knowing we won’t need any help to win a regular-season title, is a very good feeling.”
Currently, Parkside also sits at No. 6 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings. The top eight teams in each of the eight regions across the country are in line to make up the national tournament field, so the Rangers are also in play for an at-large bid if they don’t win the GLIAC Tournament.
A pair of wins this weekend to conclude the regular season and a strong showing in the conference tournament would only bolster that resume. Not to mention, add another banner or two to hang from the DeSimone Arena rafters.
The Rangers are allowing just 67.5 points per game to their opponents, least in the 10-team GLIAC going into the final weekend of the regular season.
“As it has been all year for us, everything starts on the defensive end,” Reigel said. “When we play with our highest level of intensity and focus, we’ve been able to make things difficult for our opponents. That is the goal for this weekend. We know that Wayne State is going to come in and battle, as they are trying to secure a spot in the conference tournament, so we will have to be ready right from the start.
“Overall, I like where we are at, both in the standings and how we are playing. We just have to continue to have that same drive and toughness and finish the regular season strong this weekend. We look forward to having a great crowd again as we try to secure another championship.”
Sophomore point guard Rasheed Bello has had an incredible season for the Rangers, as he ranks third in the GLIAC in scoring with 18.4 points per game, fourth in assists with 4.6 per game and first in steals with 2.4 per game.
Parkside also ranks second in the GLIAC as a team in 3-point field-goal percentage at 40.1.
The Rangers have a lot on the line this weekend, as they’re seeking to secure a top-four seed and a quarterfinal home game for the GLIAC Tournament.
Parkside (16-10 overall) is alone in third place at 11-5 in GLIAC play, with Saginaw Valley State (10-6) and Northern Michigan (10-7) right behind in the race for a top-four seed. The Rangers can secure a third-place finish with two wins this weekend and a top-four finish with one win, meaning they’ll host a GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 1.
“This will be important for conference seeding and the opportunity to host the first round of the GLIAC Tournament next week,” Parkside head women’s basketball coach Jen Conely said. “It’s been two months since we’ve seen (Wayne State and Saginaw Valley State). Both are playing really well lately.
“The GLIAC is loaded. We will have seven teams in our league that will have a winning record heading into playoffs. We will need to be locked in for 80 minutes this weekend to be successful.”
Additionally, Parkside sits at No. 10 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings, so the Rangers could push toward the top eight with a strong finish to the season, or secure an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament by winning the GLIAC Tournament title.
The Parkside women’s team last reached the NCAA Division II Tournament in the 2014-15 season.
This weekend also marks the final regular-season games for Parkside redshirt senior guard Alyssa Nelson, who earlier this season became the program’s all-time leading scorer and later the first in program history to surpass 2,000 career points. Nelson enters the weekend leading the GLIAC at 22.1 points per game as she looks to conclude her legendary college career by securing the conference scoring crown.