Men's Basketball Picked as HCAC Preseason Favorites


TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been picked as the preseason favorite to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference this season, in a preseason league coaches poll released on Wednesday.

Rose-Hulman received three first place votes to earn a 87-86 points advantage over Hanover College in the preseason poll.  Hanover received four first-place votes.

Defiance was picked to finish third in the preseason poll with 78 points and two first-place votes, with Mount St. Joseph selected fourth with 64. 

Transylvania received the remaining first place vote and was picked fifth with 62 points.  Franklin, Bluffton, Manchester, Anderson and Earlham round out the poll.

The Fightin' Engineers have also been ranked No. 20 nationally in the DIII News preseason national poll, and senior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) earned "Top 24" honors from DIII News.

In addition, the Sporting News College Basketball Yearbook touted Rose-Hulman as a "possible breakthrough" team and listed Strickland as an honorable mention All-American.

Rose-Hulman has qualified for two consecutive NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournaments after capturing two consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament titles.  The Fightin' Engineers were ranked as high as No. 18 nationally last season, led NCAA Division III in scoring defense by allowing just 51.8 points per game and hosted their first NCAA Tournament game since 1997.

Rose-Hulman also finished 24-4 last season to tie the most wins and fewest losses in a season in program history.

Strickland was a second-team National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American last season and leads two returning starters for this year's squad.  He was also named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player after leading the Fightin' Engineers in scoring at 14.6 points per contest.

Strickland enters his season with 1,099 career points, including 65 games scoring in double figures and eight games of 20 or more points.  His career-high 30-point game came in the 2012 HCAC Tournament championship game at Transylvania, a victory that lifted Rose-Hulman to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.

Senior James Pillischafske (Louisville, Ky./Male) is the team's second returning starter and comes into the year ranked second in school history in three-point accuracy.

Rose-Hulman opens the season with a scrimmage against Indiana State University on Sunday at 2:05 p.m.

Team                         Points (first place votes)
1. Rose-Hulman              87 (3)
2. Hanover                      86 (4)
3. Defiance                     78 (2)
4. Mount St. Joseph        64
5. Transylvania                62 (1)
6. Franklin                      53
7. Bluffton                       48
8. Manchester                 29
9. Anderson                    23
10. Earlham                    20