WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Williams men’s basketball will head into the NCAA tournament as the No. 2 ranked team in the country following its 64-56 victory over Middlebury in the NESCAC championship on Sunday. The win marked the first NESCAC title since 2007 and the fourth overall for the Ephs, who stand at 26-1 on the season.
Williams sits only one point behind No. 1 Washington University (St. Louis) in the voting. As a result of its season-long stellar play, the men received a bye in the first round of the NCAA tournament and the right to host the second round game on Saturday. The Ephs will take on the winner of Thursday’s first round matchup between Bridgewater State and Maine-Farmington on Saturday in Chandler Gymnasium at 7:00 PM.
Middlebury fell from No. 6 to No. 9 following its championship loss. The 24-3 Panthers will host Gordon in their first round game this weekend.
Williams enters the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. The Ephs have won 17 straight games and stand first in the country with a 20.6 scoring margin, 52.5 percent field-goal percentage, and 45 percent three-point field-goal percentage. They are also seventh in scoring offense with 85.1 points per game and 16th in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to make only 39 percent of their shots.
Senior co-captain Blake Schultz and sophomore James Wang have spearheaded much of the Ephs’ success this season. Schultz, who has been nominated for the Jostens Trophy for excellence on the court, performance in the class room, and contributions to his community by the Rotary Club of Salem, Virginia, has averaged a NESCAC-leading 18.4 points per game on 52% shooting this season while chipping in 4.3 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Wang has received the NESCAC player of the week award four times this season, including the last two weeks for his performances in the NESCAC tournament. He is the fifth leading scorer in the conference, averaging 16.9 points on 57 percent shooting; he has grabbed 4.3 rebounds and picked up a team-leading and third-in-the-NESCAC 4.56 assists per game this season.
The team has also received stellar contributions from the center tandem of senior co-captain Joe Geoghegan and junior Troy Whittington. Geoghegan finished third in the conference and first on the Ephs in rebounding with 8.4 boards per game while adding 7.6 points per game for the Ephs, good for fifth on the team. Whittington leads the conference in field goal percentage, making 69 percent of his baskets, en route to 10.7 points per game, third on the team. He also averages 2.3 blocks for game, placing him second in the conference, and 5.9 rebounds, placing him second on the team.
The entire Top 25 Poll, through games played on Sunday, February 28, 2010:
|1||Washington U. (14)||23-2||610||1|
|13||St. Mary's (Md.)||24-3||311||14|
|18||Franklin and Marshall||23-4||213||20|
|25||St. John Fisher||22-5||41||22|
Dropped out: No. 24 John Carroll.
Others receiving votes: John Carroll 32, Defiance 26, Illinois Wesleyan 26, Maryville (Tenn.) 22, Gordon 15, Wheaton (Ill.) 13, Hope 12, DeSales 8, Medaille 8, Brandeis 5, Albright 3, Carleton 1, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 1, Clark 1, Colby 1, Plattsburgh State 1, Rutgers-Newark 1.