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Men's Basketball to Host Middlebury Saturday in NESCAC Quarterfinal Action

Men's Basketball to Host Middlebury Saturday in NESCAC Quarterfinal Action

No. 17 Wesleyan University (19-5, 7-3 NESCAC) earned the No. 4 seed in the 2018 NESCAC Men's Basketball Championships and will host fifth-seeded and nationally-ranked No. 13 Middlebury College (19-5, 7-3 NESCAC) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. in Silloway Gymnasium.

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Amherst, Williams, Hamilton, Wesleyan and Middlebury all finished the regular season with a 7-3 league ledger. The Mammoths earned key wins over the Panthers and Ephs on the final weekend of the regular season to post a 3-1 record against the other teams tied at the top, to grab the No. 1 seed. In comparing the head-to-head records of the other four teams, Williams, Hamilton and Wesleyan went 2-2, while Middlebury went 1-3. As a result, Middlebury is the No. 5 seed. When comparing head-to-head results between Williams, Hamilton and Wesleyan, Williams went 2-0, Hamilton went 1-1 and Wesleyan went 0-2. As a result of the head-to-head comparison, Williams earned the No. 2 seed, Hamilton is the No. 3 seed and Wesleyan earned the No. 4 seed.

It is the second year in a row that the Cardinals captured the fourth seed as they look to reach the semifinals for the first time since the 2014-15 season, when they went on to grab their first-ever NESCAC Championship.

AT A GLANCE: NO. 4 WESLEYAN

  • The Cardinals—led by head coach Joe Reilly—have now won 18 or more games in four-straight seasons and are currently 75-27 (.730) during that time. It is the greatest stretch in program history.
  • Reilly earned his 300th career win as a head coach on Friday night when Wesleyan defeated Colby, 87-71.
  • On the same night as Reilly's 300th win, the Cardinals also defended their Little Three title when Amherst defeated Williams. Wesleyan went 3-1 against its archrivals during the regular season to capture their second consecutive outright championship. The Cardinals also shared the title with Amherst in 2015-16.
  • The Cardinals started the season 9-0 and have won nine of their last 11 games, including three straight, entering the tournament. They have been consistently ranked in the national top-25 poll all season.
  • Wesleyan boasts arguably the top defense in the conference, holding opponents to a league-low 36.4 percent shooting from the field and allowing 63.4 points per game—second best. Additionally, the Cardinals lead the NESCAC in blocks per game (5.7), and rank second in steals (8.0) and rebound margin (9.0).
  • Junior guard Jordan Bonner leads the team in scoring averaging 15.6 points per game, while senior forward Nathan Krill averages 11.9 and a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Kevin O'Brien does a little bit of everything for Wesleyan as he leads the team in assists (5.7) and steals (1.6), while also grabbing 5.8 rebounds and blocking 0.9 shots per contest.
  • Wesleyan is making its fourth consecutive NESCAC Tournament appearance and 12th overall. The program is 6-10 all time in conference postseason play and is just one of five teams to have won a title.
  • The Cardinals are an impressive 10-1 at home this season.

AT A GLANCE: NO. 5 MIDDLEBURY

  • The Panthers are the two-time defending NESCAC Champions.
  • They are the No. 5 seed for the first time since 2001 and will be playing a quarterfinal road game for the first time since 2004.
  • Middlebury had won 11 consecutive games before falling to Hamilton and Amherst to close out the regular season.
  • The Panthers are the second-highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 81.3 points per game, and also lead the league in rebounding (47.8) and assists (18.5), while ranking second in blocks (5.4).
  • The team is led by its senior star guard Jack Daly, who reached the 1,000-point plateau in Saturday's loss to Amherst. He leads the league in minutes (33.7), assists (8.5) and steals (1.8), while ranking fourth in rebounds (8.3) and seventh in points (15.7). The frontcourt is led by sophomore forward Matt Folger, who is the only other Panther averaging double-digit points. He ranks second on the team in both points (14.0) and rebounds (7.1).
  • The Panthers are 8-3 in away games this year.
  • Middlebury has reached the postseason tournament 13 times and boasts a 19-9 overall record with four championships and two runner-up finishes.

SERIES HISTORY:

  • Saturday's game marks the 41st all-time meeting between Wesleyan and Middlebury.
  • The Cardinals hold a 40-30 edge in the series, but the Panthers are 3-0 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC Championship.
  • The last postseason meeting between the two programs occurred in the 2016 quarterfinals with Middlebury claiming an 86-74 victory at home.
  • The Cardinals defeated the Panthers during the regular season matchup, 80-70, on Jan. 6 in Silloway Gymnasium. The win snapped a 15-game losing streak against Middlebury.
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