TERRE HAUTE —
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Rose has a 22-5 record, having won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships for the second straight year. The Engineers have also won at least 20 games three years in a row for the first time in school history.
Wheaton is 19-8 after winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament last weekend. The Thunder placed second in the CCIW during the regular season.
The winner of the Rose-Wheaton game will advance to the second round at 7 p.m. Saturday to face the winner of Friday’s other first-round game between Hope and Penn State-Behrend.
Rose-Hulman advanced to the tournament with a 70-56 win over Hanover 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 ranks fourth in school history with 619 points this season (22.9 per 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.
It’s the 11th NCAA Tournament appearance for Rose-Hulman; its 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-foot-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 (the 1955-56 team finished fourth in the NAIA Tournament). Wheaton defeated nationally ranked Illinois Wesleyan 87-66 in the CCIW championship game on Saturday game.