Championship Game Outlook: The College of Wooster (20-7, 15-3 North Coast Athletic Conference) takes on host Ohio Wesleyan University (21-6, 14-2 NCAC) in the championship game of the 2017 NCAC Tournament on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Branch Rickey Arena in Delaware, Ohio. Wooster is making its league-leading 25th NCAC Tournament championship game appearance, and is in search of adding to its league-best 15 NCAC Tournament crowns. An Ohio Wesleyan win would move the Battling Bishops into a tie with Wittenberg University for second all-time with six NCAC Tournament titles.
Media Coverage: Wooster's game will be streamed live at https://www.owu.edu/about/follow-owu/stream-owu/, and will also be carried on tape delay on MCTV. Wooster's game can also be heard on WQKT 104.5 FM or online at http://wqkt.com. Fans can also follow the men's basketball team's Twitter account @ScotsBasketball for periodic score updates.
Ticket Information: Tickets for Saturday's championship game go on sale at 3 p.m. at Branch Rickey Arena. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for holders of the NCAC guest pass and children (18 and under), and $5 for students without an ID card from an NCAC institution. Students with a valid ID from an NCAC institution are admitted free of charge.
NCAC Tournament History: Wooster has won the NCAC Tournament a league-best 15 times, and in fact, that total is more than two-times greater than Wittenberg University's six league tournament crowns, and Wittenberg could be matched by Ohio Wesleyan this afternoon. Wooster is now 68-17 all-time in the NCAC Tournament after Friday's 87-77 win over Denison University. The Scots are making their ninth straight appearance in the championship game and 25th overall. Wooster is 15-9 all-time in NCAC Tournament championship games, and improved to 25-3 all-time in semifinal action last night. The Scots are now 22-5 all-time when playing as the No. 2 seed in the NCAC Tournament, and this year marks the 20th straight season Wooster's been either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Wooster enters play this afternoon with a 4-4 all-time record in true road games in NCAC Tournament play.
Semifinal Recap: Senior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, Ohio/Green) broke Wooster's NCAC Tournament record and matched his season-high with 32 points during the Scots' 87-77 win over Denison University on Friday. Fanelly broke W Association Hall of Famer Bryan Nelson's 31 points he scored during the 2001 championship game against Wittenberg. The second half started to feature a similar storyline with Wooster building a mid-teen lead (17 this year) before Denison cut it down to single digits with 14:02 remaining. Senior Milt Davis (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) pushed Wooster's lead back to double digits with 13:43 remaining as part of nine straight Scot points he scored. Of course last year Denison overcame a 16-point second half deficit to top Wooster in overtime in the championship game.
On To the Finals: Williams' go-ahead old-fashioned three-point play from Wooster's double-overtime win at DePauw University on Jan. 28 won the week two fan vote in the GEICO Play of the Year competition. Williams will be one of five plays in the finals for fans to vote on between March 6-13. The winning play will be unveiled on CBS' "Best of College Basketball" show on March 25 at noon.
Together Again: Friday's win marked Wooster's 20th of the season and that kept the Scots in good company. Wooster has now won 20 or more games in each of the last 21 seasons, which is tied with Duke University for the second-longest active streak among all NCAA men's basketball programs. The two programs trail only Kansas University, who extended its streak to 28 straight 20-win seasons back on Feb. 1.
In Search of No. 800: Saturday's game could turn out to be very special for Wooster head coach Steve Moore, who enters play needing one win to reach 800 for his legendary career. In fact, Moore would be the 18th NCAA men's basketball coach to reach the 800-win plateau, and he would be the fifth to do so this season as Bob Chipman (Washburn University), Bob Huggins (West Virginia University), Rollie Massimino (Kaiser University), and Roy Williams (University of North Carolina) did so earlier this season.
A Chance at No. 15: The winner of Saturday's game earns the NCAC's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Div. III Championships. For Wooster, it would extend the program's already-held all-time Div. III record to 15 straight seasons. If Ohio Wesleyan wins, Wooster could still get in the tournament, but its fate would rest in the hands of the selection committee awarding an at-large bid to the Scots.
Fanelly Rises Up: Fanelly moved into seventh on the program's all-time scoring list during Saturday's win over Wittenberg and is 10 points behind Xavier Brown (2011-15) for sixth on the all-time scoring list. He now has 1,627 points for his career, a total 19th in NCAC history. This season, Fanelly currently ranks second in the NCAC at 18.7 points per game, second with a 61.2 (169-for-276) field goal percentage, fifth with a 79.6 (121-for-152) free throw percentage, fourth with 1.5 steals per game, and fifth with 3.2 assists per game. Additionally, Fanelly has 12 20-point games on the season, and had five straight between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11.
Pursuing 500: Fanelly enters the championship game with 485 points on the season. Should he reach 500, the forward would become the sixth student-athlete in program history to surpass that mark in a season, and he would join former Wooster greats James Cooper, Tom Dinger, Ian Franks, Bryan Nelson, and Tom Port.
Mr. Consistent: Williams, Wooster's second-leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, continues to find the bottom of the basket in a multitude of ways this season. The junior guard has been in double figures in 24 of Wooster's 27 games to date, and had a string of 12 straight games with 10 or more points from Dec. 21 to Feb. 4, and had three 20-point games during that span. In the quarterfinal win over Wabash, Williams surpassed 20 points for the fifth time this season. In fact, Williams enters play today with 392 points on the season and should he reach 400 points, it would be the 42nd time in program history that's happened in a season.
Rebounding Machine: Wooster ranks first in the NCAC in rebounding at 41.1 per game, while the Scots' opposition averages the third-fewest rebounds in the league at 33.2, and a lot of that is attributed to Bulic's stellar play. The sophomore forward recently recorded a career-high 17 rebounds against Kenyon in the last week of the regular season, and corralled 15 more in the NCAC Tournament quarterfinal game before securing eight in the semifinal win. In fact, Bulic is averaging 9.7 rebounds per game over Wooster's last 11 contests, and now ranks sixth individually in the league in rebounding at 6.7 rebounds per night.
Rim Protectors: Baptiste and Bulic give the Scots a lot of depth and experience on the interior defensively. In fact, the duo rank among the top rim protectors in the league as Baptiste leads the conference in blocked shots per game at 1.1, and Bulic isn't far behind sitting seventh at 0.9. In fact, the two combined average 2.0 blocks per game, and no other duo from the same team in the conference averages above 2.0 blocks per night combined.
Postseason King: Davis found his stride in Wooster's win over Wabash on Tuesday with a career-high 19 points. Coincidentally, his previous career-high was 18 and that came against Lancaster Bible College in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. In fact, between his junior and senior seasons, Davis has now been in double figures in four of Wooster's nine postseason games after Friday's 15-point effort.
Hempy Lights it Up: Hempy enters Saturday tied for tops in the conference with a 45.8 3-point percentage (33-for-72), and in fact, ranks ninth with a 49.3 field goal percentage (101-205), making Wooster the only team in the league with three of the top 10 student-athletes in terms of field goal percentage (Fanelly ranks second at 61.2 percent, while Dupler is fifth at 57.1 percent).
Streaking Under Moore: Wooster picked up its 10th straight win on Feb. 8 against Allegheny, marking the 26th time the Scots have strung together a double-digit win streak in Steve Moore's 30 years as the head coach. In fact, Wooster has at least one 10-game win streak in 18 of the last 20 years.