Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology opens the NCAA Division III Tournament against Wheaton College (Ill.) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in a four-team regional at Hope College in Michigan.
Rose-Hulman enters the NCAA Tournament with a 22-5 record after winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament championships for the second consecutive year. The Fightin’ Engineers have also won 20 games for the third consecutive season for the first time in program history.
Wheaton enters the tournament with a 19-8 record this season after winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament last weekend to earn an automatic NCAA bid. The Thunder finished second in the league during the regular season portion of their schedule.
Rose-Hulman advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament after a 70-56 win over Hanover College in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Game on Saturday night at Hulbert Arena. Senior Julian Strickland was named HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 26.5 points per game over last weekend’s wins over Mount St. Joseph and Hanover.
Strickland currently fourth school history with 619 points this season (22.9/game), marking the most points for a Rose-Hulman men’s basketball player since 1970. His career point total of 1,718 points ranks sixth in school history.
Rose-Hulman enters the NCAA Tournament with 19 wins in its last 21 games, and the team’s 22 victories this season ranks third in program history. The men’s basketball team will make its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance and its third in a row for the first time ever. The Rose-Hulman men’s basketball history includes 10 regular season conference titles and four league tournament championships.
Wheaton will make its 14th appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament, including its fourth postseason trip in the five-year head coaching era of alumnus Mike Schauer. Senior Tyler Peters, a 6-4 point guard, is recognized as one of the top perimeter players in the nation after leading his team in scoring (20.3 ppg) and assists (4.7 apg). Junior Brayden Teuscher provides support with an average of 14.9 points per game.
This is Wheaton’s 15th postseason appearance, and 14th in a NCAA Tournament (the 1955-56 team finished fourth in the NAIA Tournament). Schauer is guiding the Thunder into the postseason for the fourth time in his five seasons at the helm of his alma mater. Wheaton defeated nationally ranked Illinois Wesleyan 87-66 in the CCIW championship game on Saturday game.
The winner of the Rose-Hulman vs. Wheaton game will advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament second round on Saturday at 7 p.m. to face the winner of Friday’s other first round game between Hope and Penn State-Behrend.