Illinois Wesleyan men earn bid to NCAA Tournament; IWU women to host

Ron Rose
Ron Rose’s Illinois Wesleyan Titans will play Wooster in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Ohio on Friday. (WJBC file photo)

By IWU Sports Information

BLOOMINGTON – After an absence of two years, the Illinois Wesleyan men’s basketball team will play in the NCAA Division III basketball championships, opening against the College of Wooster on Friday in the first round at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio.

Illinois Wesleyan’s women secured a home date for the first two rounds of the tournament and will take on Marietta on Friday.

On the men’s side, the host school (23-5) will play Thomas More (23-5) at 4:30 p.m. Central Time in the other first round game with the winners to meet Saturday night.

IWU coach Ron Rose admitted it wasn’t easy sitting on the bubble since Friday.

“That’s really a tough spot to be in,” Rose said. “I’ve got a great group of kids I love coaching and not knowing if we coudl get this opportuity, was really tough.

“Thrilled to death we got int the tournament.”

Earning an at-large bid into the 64-team tourney, the Titans (19-7) are making their 25th overall NCAA tournament appearance in the 35 years of NCAA affiliation and have a 54-24 record in tournament play, including a national championship in 1997, third place finishes in 1996, 2001 and 2006 and semifinal appearances in 2012 and 2014.

Wooster has a record of 21-6 and has won 18 of their last 21 games. The Fighting Scots lost 88-87 in overtime to Ohio Wesleyan in the semifinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament.

“Traditionally, they are one of the best teams and we know we’ll have our hands full but, at this stage to be in the NCAA Tournament, you are going to face a lot of good teams.”

The Illinois Wesleyan women have secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the CCIW Tournament on Saturday. The tournament field will be released at 1:30 p.m.

IWU women

The No. 18-ranked Illinois Wesleyan women’s basketball team (24-3) will host games this weekend in the 2018 NCAA Division III basketball championships, playing Marietta (24-4) in the first round at 7 p.m. Friday.

No. 6-ranked Trine (24-3) and No. 7 DePauw (25-2) will play in the other Friday first round game with the winners to meet on Saturday night.

“You can’t imagine how much easier (hosting) makes it,” IWU coach Mia Smith said. “It gives me more time and my staff more time to look at film and get more prepared.

“It also helps the girls in terms of they don’t have to pack and get ready to go or arrange for class schedules or anything like that. Sleeping in their own beds will be a big plus for us.”

Winners of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin automatic bid, the Titans are making their second straight and 11th overall NCAA Division III tournament appearance. Illinois Wesleyan has a 15-10 tourney record with the national title in 2012 and a fourth place finish in 2011. IWU made six consecutive appearances from 2007-12, including advancing to the round of 16 in 2010 and the round of eight in 2009.

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