TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology men's basketball team has earned a national ranking for the first time this season, reaching the No. 24 spot in the d3hoops.com national top 25 poll released Monday.
The Fightin' Engineers rallied to defeat Bluffton 61-55 on Saturday for their seventh consecutive victory. Rose-Hulman improved to 19-4 overall on the season with its 16th win in the last 17 games. The Bluffton win also marked the 300th career victory for 20th year head coach Jim Shaw.
Although this marks Rose-Hulman's first national ranking this season, the Fightin' Engineers are no stranger to the d3hoops.com national top 25 poll. Rose-Hulman was ranked for five weeks last season, topping out at the No. 18 in a 24-4 season that included a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championship.
This year, Rose-Hulman needs one win in its two road games this week to secure its second consecutive HCAC regular season championship. The regular season champion, which will be Rose-Hulman or Defiance, hosts the conference tournament semifinals on Feb. 28 and the league championship game on Mar. 1. The winner of the six-team tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Senior preseason All-American Julian Strickland leads the Fightin' Engineers in scoring at 22.8 points per game. Sophomore Jimmy Miller has provided double figure scoring depth at 10.3 points per game. Senior Alec Houpt is one of six other Engineers averaging over four points per contest at 7.2.
Rose-Hulman will take its first opportunity to clinch the HCAC regular season championship with a trip to in-state rival Franklin on Wednesday at 7:30. The regular season finale takes place on Saturday at Mount St. Joseph.