Men's Basketball Opens NCAA Tournament TONIGHT

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TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology opens the 2012 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament against No. 23 ranked North Central College in a matchup at Washington University in St. Louis tonight at 5:30 p.m. Central Time (6:30 p.m. Indiana time).

Tickets will be available beginning at 4:15 p.m. CT today at the Washington University Box Office.  Adult tickets are priced at $6, with children's tickets available for $3.

Coverage of the game is available over local radio in the Wabash Valley on ESPN Radio 92.7 FM.  Live in-game stats and live in-game video links are above.

Rose-Hulman returns to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in school history and the first time since the 1998-99 season.  The Fightin' Engineers also make their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the Jim Shaw coaching era at the college.

Rose-Hulman stands 20-8 on the season and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament with a 76-73 overtime win over Transylvania University on Sunday afternoon.  Transylvania was also selected to the NCAA field of 62 teams.

Sophomore Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) was named HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 30 points in the championship game victory.  Strickland leads the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game.

Junior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) joined Strickland on the all-tournament team at the HCAC Championships and ranks second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game.  Junior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) moved into third place on the team in scoring at 7.2 points per game after a season-high 17 points in the championship game.

Rose-Hulman completed the regular season ranked No. 2 nationally in defense and allows just 56.1 points per game.  The Fightin' Engineers have also recorded the fourth 20-win season in program history this year.

Rose-Hulman's NCAA Division III Tournament history features one trip to the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals in 1976-77 when the Fightin' Engineers finished a school record 24-4 under legendary head coach John Mutchner.  The team also advanced to the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen in 1988-89 under Bill Fenlon.

North Central finished 20-7 this season and won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament title to earn its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  The Cardinals, who also won the regular season league championship, have won 11 of their last 12 games entering NCAA Division III Tournament play.

The balanced scoring attack for North Central features four players averaging between 11 and 14 points per game, highlighted by Landon Gamble at 13.5 points per contest.

No. 19 ranked Washington University (19-6) and Buena Vista University (17-10) round out the four-team regional in St. Louis.  The second round matchup will take place Saturday night at 7 p.m. Central Time (8 p.m. Indiana time).