Men's Basketball D3 Playoffs

Little Giants head to Trine for NCAA Tournament


Wabash College Men’s basketball is getting familiar with the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament.

After defeating Wooster for the eighth time in the last nine meetings in Saturday’s North Coast Athletic Conference championship game, the Little Giants punched their ticket to their third straight D3 Tournament.

On Monday, the Little Giants tuned into the selection show to learn where they would be headed for the first round, which gets underway Friday. When Wabash saw their name come across the screen it was revealed that they’d be staying in Indiana as Trine University (23-4) will host the four-team pod of Wabash (20-8), Fontbonne (20-7) and Coe College (21-5).

Wabash will take on Coe College at 5:40 p.m. Friday in the first game.

“Getting to stay in state is big because we all know what basketball means in the state of Indiana,” Wabash head coach Kyle Brumett said. “We host the Final Four in Fort Wayne and get to crown a champion here. I know it’s going to be a great crowd there because Trine has an excellent facility and from a location standpoint it’s exciting for us.”

As far as the Little Giants opponent in Coe College goes, there is some slight familiarity with the two teams. When Wabash competed in the Bill Merris Tournament on Nov. 17-18, Coe was there as well. The Little Giants and Kohawks didn’t play each other, but both teams did get a glimpse of one another.

The Kohawks are led in scoring by 6’6 senior TJ Schnurr who scores 17.2 points per game and grabs 6.6 rebounds. Fellow senior Cael Schmitt, who also stands at 6’6, scores 17.0 a game. Another 6’6 junior in Bennett Sherry scores 12.5 points per contest and grabs 6.5 rebounds and is the team leader with 40 blocks on the year.

As a team the Kohawks score 75 points per game and shoot 48% from the field.

“They’re very good and we know that because we’ve seen them live,” Brumett said. “We both beat North Park and lost to Illinois College in that tournament in November. Just from a draw standpoint I love it because at least we’ve seen them play. They’re probably thinking the same thing about us.

“We still both have a lot to figure out about each other and we’re both way different than we were back then. They play in a conference that got four teams into the tournament which is unheard of in Division III. For us all five of our non-conference losses made the tournament. I just know that we’re going to head into this thing and represent the NCAC the best way we can.”

For the Little Giants, they have plenty of players who have gotten their feet wet in this environment. Sam Comer, Vinny Buccilla, Ahmoni Jones, Edreece Redmond and Avery Beaver have all played in NCAA Tournament games. More specifically, this group of Little Giant seniors and Champ McCorkle have all built a legacy with Wabash and want to make sure they make a few more memories.

“All of those guys have been here for these NCAC titles,” Brumett said. “These guys understand the grind that goes into us being in this position for three straight years.

Despite the wins against Wooster and DePauw and having three straight 20-win seasons, the Little Giants are proud of their overall NCAC record.

“Those guys know we’ve taken a step forward to where we’re going to be measured by how we perform in the tournament,” Brumett said. “We lost in the first-round last year and that was a much different taste than what they got when we made the final four. These guys want what the older guys got to do and enjoy the grind of this tournament. These guys have certainly left a legacy here, but they want more.”

If the Little Giants win Friday, they move on to play the winner of Trine vs. Fontbonne at 8:10 p.m. Saturday.

All three games can be streamed on Trine’s athletic website.