GREENWOOD, IN – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been voted as the frontrunner in the 2013-14 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship race. The Engineers, who earned the outright title last winter, received three first place votes in the Coaches’ Preseason Poll. RHIT garnered 87 points overall in the poll holding off Hanover College who finished with 86 points and four first place votes.
Defiance College has been forecasted as the third place team by receiving 78 points and two first place votes in the poll. College of Mount St. Joseph’s 64 points placed the Lions fourth and were followed by Transylvania University (62 pts, one 1st place vote) in fifth position. Franklin College (53), Bluffton University (48), Manchester University (29), Anderson University (23), and Earlham College (20) round out the poll.
Rose-Hulman will be looking to capture its second consecutive HCAC championship this season. The Engineers won the HCAC title last winter, posting a 24-4 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the HCAC. Rose-Hulman beat Hanover in the conference tournament championship 64-59 and fell to Calvin in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Engineers return the HCAC Player of the Year from last year’s team. Senior guard Julian Strickland (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) earned the conference’s top honor last season, averaging a team-high 14.6 points per game with 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest. DIII News ranked Rose-Hulman at No. 20 in its preseason poll and named Strickland to its top 24 players in the nation list.
Hanover will be looking to surpass Rose-Hulman in the race to the top of the conference standings this winter after finishing second in the standings a year ago. The Panthers fell to Rose 64-59 in the HCAC tournament title last February, ending their season.
Hanover returns a second team All-HCAC selection from last year’s squad. Junior guard Tim Bass (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central) led the team in scoring and assists, averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists per game as a sophomore.
Defiance will look to make a run at the title this winter after finishing fourth in the HCAC standings last season. DC finished the season 16-11 overall and 11-7 in conference action. The Yellow Jackets return one honorable mention All-HCAC player from a year ago. Senior forward Ryan Hicks (Port Clinton, Ohio/H.S.) averaged 12.5 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game as a junior.
The opening games on the schedule are slated for November 15 with the first conference games scheduled for December 4.
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