UMW News BureauThe Montana Western Bulldogs make their eighth appearance at the NAIA national basketball tournament when they face Union University of Tennessee in a first-round game. Tipoff is 8:45 p.m. By Wally Feldt [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="156" caption="Bulldog JaRon Brown."][/caption] The University of Montana Western Bulldog men’s basketball team will make their first national tournament appearance in 21 years when they face the Union University Bulldogs of Tennessee in the first round of the 2010 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. Tipoff is tentatively set for 8:45 MDT, depending on the conclusion of the tournament’s 7 p.m. game. The game will be broadcast in southwest Montana on KBEV radio and a live video feed of the game will be shown in the Great Room of the Swysgood Technology Center on the Montana Western campus. The Bulldogs’ last NAIA tournament appearance came with spectacular fashion in 1989. The Bulldogs entered the the tournament unseeded and, in their first game, knocked off the tournament’s No. 1 seed and the defending national champion Grand Canyon University of Arizona 79-65. The Bulldogs then lost to College of Idaho 68-65 in the second round. This will be Montana Western’s eighth trip to the NAIA national tournament. In addition to 1989, they also qualified in 1941, 1949, 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1969. In addition to qualifying for the 2010 national tournament, the Bulldogs also set a record for wins in a single season. Montana Western is 24-9 going into their Thursday game against Union University. The Bulldogs finished second in the Frontier Conference with a 10-4 record and lost to Westminster College 68-76 in the league’s playoff championship game. They are unseeded in the tournament. “I am really proud of this team,” head coach Steve Keller said. “It is a heck of accomplishment for the players. They worked very hard to get here.” Union University is a private, four-year, liberal arts-based university located in Jackson, Tenn. The school, founded in 1823, now has about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 40 states and 35 countries. The Union Bulldogs were the regular season and tournament champions of the TranSouth Athletic Conference. Union is 27-6 and seeded 10th. Though the game could prove to be challenging for Montana Western, Keller said his team more than proved themselves as up to the challenge this season. “We are ready,” Keller added. “We watched a lot of film on them in a short period of time. They are big and athletic, but the interesting thing is that our stats are almost identical to theirs.” Both teams hit 48 percent of their field goals this season. The Bulldogs of Montana Western have a slight edge in three-point shooting with a 40 percent average compared to 34 percent from Union. The Union Bulldogs have the edge in rebounding with 42 per game compared to 40 per game from Montana Western. Union also has a slight edge in free-throw shooting with a 72 percent average compared to 70 percent from the UMW Bulldogs. “The key to victory is simple,” Keller noted. “We need to take care of the basketball and limit our turnovers.” Three players average in double-figure scoring for Union led by first-team all-conference selection Greg Truvillion with 18 points per game (ppg). Keith Tolliver is second in scoring with 10.2 ppg, and all-conference second-team selection Stan McNeil is third with 10.2 ppg. Truvillion also leads the team in rebounds with 9.3 rebounds per game. Union averages 78 ppg while giving up 65. They lead the nation in defensive field goal percentage, holding their opponents to 37 percent per game. Montana Western features a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring in double figures. Senior and first team all-conference selection JaRon Brown leads with 16 ppg. Terry Hauser and Layne Glaus are next with 11 ppg followed by Brandon Lawson and Brandon Brown with 10 ppg. Hauser is eighth in the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage. Glaus, Hauser and Lawson all earned second-team all-conference honors. The Bulldogs average 82 ppg (14th in the nation) while giving up 72. They are fourth in the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage. The winner of the Montana Western-Union game will play on Friday, March 19 at 8:45 p.m. (MDT) against the winner of the Southern Nazarene-Tougaloo first-round game. The game will be shown via webcast in the Great Room of the Swysggod Technology Center. The webcast is sponsored by the Montana Western Foundation.