Marching On: The College of Wooster (21-6) is dancing once again in March as the Fighting Scots earned one of the 21 NCAA Div. III Pool C (at-large) bids when the 64-team championship field was announced on Monday afternoon. Wooster will travel to John Carroll University in University Hts., Ohio for first- and possibly second-round action on March 2-3. The Scots are slated to open play against Illinois Wesleyan College (19-7) at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Host John Carroll (23-5) will play Thomas More College (23-5) in the other first-round game at 7:30 p.m.. The winners of Friday's game will square off on Saturday night at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to next week's sectional semifinal.
Media Coverage: Wooster's semifinal game will be streamed live at https://boxcast.tv/view/ncaa-division-iii-basketball-championship-1st-round-illinois-wesleyan-vs-wooster-633823. Live stats of the game are also available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/jcu/mbball/. Mike Breckenridge's call of the game can be heard on WQKT 104.5 FM and online at http://wqkt.com. Fans can also check the men's basketball team's Twitter account @ScotsBasketball for periodic score updates.
Ticket Information: Ticket prices for the this Friday are $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, students, and youth. Children under 2-years-old are admitted free of charge. Ticket sales will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday at John Carroll.
Scots Extend Div. III Streak, Among Nation's Elite in Terms of NCAA Tourney Appearances: With the selection, Wooster extended its NCAA Div. III record out to a 16th consecutive tournament. Among all divisions, Wooster boasts the sixth-longest active streak of NCAA Tournament appearances as the University of Kansas (27), Duke University (21), Michigan State University (19), Gonzaga University (18), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (18) - all Div. I programs - are the lone programs with longer such streaks. Overall, the Scots are making their 27th appearance in the Div. III national tournament, which ranks third all-time. Longtime nemesis Wittenberg University is making its co-leading 28th appearance, while the University of Scranton is also at 28 all-time trips to the national field.
NCAA Tournament History: Wooster enters play this week with a 34-27 all-time record in the Div. III national tournament. The Scots have advanced as far as the national championship game (2011) and were national semifinalists in 2003 and 2007. Last year, Wooster dropped its first-round game to North Central College 77-72, but did advance to the sectional final (Elite Eight) two years ago.
Wooster vs. its NCAA Pod: Wooster and Illinois Wesleyan have met twice before in the NCAA Tournament with both games taking place during the sectional semifinal (Sweet 16). In 2004, the Scots topped the Titans 58-53 before falling to the Blue Streaks 70-64 - a John Carroll team that featured current first-year head coach Pete Moran as the starting point guard. The Titans bested the Scots 69-67 in the 2012 sectional semifinal. In that game, Wooster dug out of a 17-point deficit early in the second half and had three late possessions when it could have taken the lead for the first time all game, but a jumper by the Titans' Eliud Gonzalez broke a 67-67 tie with :18 remaining and held up as the game-winner. Illinois Wesleyan went on to dispatch Wittenberg 70-49 in the sectional final at Timken Gymnasium before falling to Cabrini College 81-78 in the national semifinal. Overall, the Titans are 2-1 against the Scots. Wooster is 22-7 all-time against John Carroll and 4-0 against Thomas More. Wooster and John Carroll last met on the first night of the 2012 E.M. "Mose" Hole/Wooster Kiwanis Classic with the Scots topping the Blue Streaks 81-67. In NCAA Tournament action, John Carroll is 3-2 all-time against Wooster with the Scots' two wins coming in years the Black & Gold advanced to the national semifinals. Most recently, Tom Port and Tim Vandervaart scored 16 points each during an 83-73 win in the 2007 sectional semifinal at Pittsford, N.Y., and prior to that, Wooster edged out John Carroll 77-75 in a 2003 second-round game at Timken Gymnasium. Wooster and Thomas More last played during the 1999-00 season, a game won by Wooster 108-72.
Last Week's Recap: Senior Alex Baptiste (Allonnes, France/Wasatch Academy (Utah)) knocked down a pair of free throws to put Wooster on top 87-86 with :09.8 remaining in overtime, but Ohio Wesleyan University's Nate Axelrod had the magical touch on an off-balance jumper with :05.1 to go that held up as the game-winner, and the Scots dropped a second one-point overtime heartbreaker within a week at Pam Evans Smith Arena in Springfield, Ohio on Friday in the semifinal round of the 2018 NCAC Tournament. Wooster saw its remarkable run of consecutive conference tournament championship game appearances snapped at nine.
Wooster, Kansas, and Duke Are Together Again: Wooster's 81-79 win over Kenyon College on Feb. 14 marked the Scots 20th win of the season, and extended one of the most impressive streaks in all of collegiate basketball as Black and Gold have now logged 22 consecutive 20-win seasons. That's tied with Duke for the second-longest active streak among all NCAA men's basketball programs. Kansas is the only team with a longer active run, and the Jayhawks won their 20th game for a 29th-consecutive season back on Feb. 13.
Wooster is the Winningest NCAA Men's Basketball Program of the 2000s: Wooster's .829 (476-98) winning percentage in the 2000s is the highest in the country regardless of division. In fact, Wooster's the last remaining NCAA institution that's sponsored men's basketball every year since the start of the 1999-00 season to drop less than 100 games in the 2000s.
Rivals to the End: The Wooster-Wittenberg series history is well documented, and is one of the top small-college basketball rivalries in the country. After all, the two teams are the winningest programs in the history of Div. III as the Scots' 1,716 wins trail the Tigers' 1,759. The all-time series between the longtime adversaries tightened to 59-57 (Wooster leads) this year after Wittenberg won both regular-season meetings, including 78-77 in overtime on Feb. 17 in what went down as the latest instant classic between the two stories programs.
Moore's Magical Touch: Simply put, Steve Moore is one of the most successful basketball coaches in NCAA history. Now in his 37th year as a head coach, Moore brings an 821-238 record into the 2018 NCAA Div. III Championships. Of the wins, 734 have come at Wooster. Moore, now in his 31st year as the Scots' mentor, has directed Wooster to 26 NCAA Tournament berths and a league-high 17 NCAC Championships.
All-Conference Streak: Wooster upped its run of having at least three student-athletes on the All-NCAC team to 15 straight years when the conference unveiled the 2018 honorees on Wednesday. Senior Spencer Williams (Warrensville Hts., Ohio/Orange) was elevated back to the first-team after earning second-team laurels as a junior and first-team accolades as a sophomore. The guard is the 20th Scot to earn All-NCAC honors three times during his career. Wooster's other two honorees were junior Reece Dupler (Newark, Ohio/Lakewood) and sophomore Danyon Hempy (Waldo, Ohio/River Valley), who both earned second-team honors. Dupler is now a two-time all-conference honoree.
Stern Steps Up: Senior Ari Stern (Phoenix, Ariz./Sunnyslope) has started the last three games due to an injury in the Scots' lineup, and has made his presence felt in each game. The team captain - and instrumental contributor throughout his career - opened the recent stretch with a career-high in points (12) and rebounds (7) at Wittenberg on Feb. 17, and upped his career-high in points to 18 during the NCAC Tournament semifinal loss against Ohio Wesleyan.
Protect the Ball: Wooster's one of the national leaders in fewest turnovers per game as the Scots enter the NCAA Championships 20th in Div. III at 11.0 miscues per game. In fact, Wooster's turned the ball over nine or fewer times nine times this year, including a season-best of four during the NCAC Tournament Quarterfinal win over DePauw University.
Protect Our House: Wooster boasts one of the top rim-protection units in Div. III as the Scots' 4.8 blocks per game ranks 21st in the country. Individually, Baptiste is 64th at 1.56 per game, while Hempy is 152nd at 1.19 per night.
Notable Wooster Alumni in Basketball: Wooster has several notable alumni currently in, or have held, prominent coaching and administrative roles in collegiate and professional basketball. L.W. St. John '06 served as the head men's basketball coach at Ohio State University from 1911-19, and was the Buckeyes' athletic director for over 30 years. Reggie Minton '63, an alternate for the 1964 United States Olympic Team, went on to have a decorated career as a coach and administrator, and he's currently the deputy executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and prior to that was the head coach at the United States Air Force Academy from 1984-00. Larry Shyatt '73 was an assistant coach for numerous programs, including the University of Florida when the Gators won the NCAA Div. I national championship in 2006 and 2007. Shyatt had two stints as head coach at the University of Wyoming and was the man in charge at Clemson University for a five-year run. Presently, he's an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. Recent alumni in prominent coaching roles include Lamont Paris '96 and Ryan Pedon '00. Paris was on the staff at Wisconsin for seven seasons, during which the Badgers made back-to-back appearances in the Final Four (2014-15), including the 2015 title game. Paris is currently in his first year as the head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Pedon is currently in his first year as the lead assistant at Ohio State, which has ranked as high as eighth this season in the AP Top 25.