Other than the Cherry Blossom Festival, few rites have become as common in Macon as Mercer’s men’s basketball program in postseason play.
That tradition continues again for the Bears at 1 p.m. Wednesday when they travel to Phoenix to play Grand Canyon University in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.com. The winner of Wednesday’s game plays either North Texas or South Dakota on Monday.
This will be Mercer’s second appearance in the CBI. The Bears (18-14) went 1-1 in the 2015 event, beating Stony Brook and losing to UL-Monroe. Since the 2011-12 season, Mercer has appeared in the CBI, CollegeInsider.com, NIT and NCAA tournaments.
Both teams are hardly strangers to postseason play. This is Mercer’s sixth postseason appearance in seven years with the Antelopes (22-11) being there for the past four years.
The similarities don’t end there. Both finished the year strong, GCU winning five of six games and losing in the WAC tournament championship with Mercer’s streak of eight wins in a row coming to a halt courtesy of Wofford in the SoCon tournament.
On paper, Wednesday’s matchup figures to be one of extremes. Mercer’s field goal percentage of 48 percent as a team led the SoCon, while Grand Canyon was second in the WAC in the categories of scoring defense and field goal percentage allowed.