Teams from six states and six regions of Division III basketball, three of whom reached the Sweet 16, will take part in the fourth annual Hoopsville National Invitational Classic presented by Buffalo Wild Wings at Stevenson University.
DeSales, Dickinson, Emory, Salisbury, St. John Fisher, St. Thomas and Southern Vermont will join host Stevenson in the event on Nov. 20-21. All eight played in postseason tournaments, NCAA or ECAC. Five played in the NCAA Tournament, with Dickinson, Emory and St. John Fisher reaching the 2015 Division III Sweet 16.
"Each year we are able to invite programs who either have proven they are the best or are ready to prove they belong in the discussion of who's the best," said executive director Dave McHugh, the host of Hoopsville, which can be seen on D3hoops.com. “The fact that nearly all the teams competing this year finished with more than 20 wins last season shows you just how and good competitive this year's Hoopsville Classic will be."
The eight teams combined for 179 wins and a .772 winning percentage last season. They won five conference tournaments and six regular season conference championships.
"Since its inception, the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic has quickly become the premier early-season event in Division III men's basketball," said director and Stevenson men's basketball head coach Gary Stewart. "The 2015 field is truly outstanding. We welcome a plethora of programs that are amongst the nations very best. I am excited about all of the highly competitive marquee match-ups of elite student-athletes, programs and coaches."
Six of the NCAA's eight Division III regions are represented: Atlantic (DeSales), East (St. John Fisher), Mid-Atlantic (Dickinson, Salisbury, Stevenson), Northeast (Southern Vermont), South (Emory) and West (St. Thomas).
"Stevenson University is proud to host the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic," said athletic director Brett Adams. "(The Hoopsville Classic), which has become a highly acclaimed collegiate basketball experience with national implications, continues to be an integral part of Stevenson University's proud legacy of athletic excellence. The 2015 classic promises to be a very competitive event with some of Division III's most traditionally rich programs."
The 2015 Classic will feature 16 all-conference, two players of the year selections and two rookies of the year selections. The Classic also features eight head coaches who have combined for 88 years of experience, 2,413 games, 1,501 wins and a .622 winning percentage. Three of the coaches were named the coach of the year by their conference.
The tournament tips off on Friday, Nov. 20 when St. John Fisher meets DeSales at 2 p.m.
One of the marquee matchups takes place on opening night when Emory and St. Thomas meet. The teams finished the 2014-15 season ranked No. 7 and No. 18, respectively, in the D3hoops.com Top 25.
Another noteworthy matchup is Dickinson vs. St. John Fisher on the second day of the tournament. Both teams, who combined for 40 wins last season, advanced to the Sweet 16 last year and would have met in the Elite 8.
Dickinson, Emory, St. Thomas and St. John Fisher all finished last year ranked in the D3hoops.com Top 25. Salisbury finished the season receiving votes.
DeSales finished with a 17-10 record and advanced to the ECAC South Region Tournament. One of the top-10 winningest programs since 2000, the Bulldogs have posted 14-straight seasons above .500, including nine 20-plus win seasons. DeSales is led by Aaron Burton, the D3hoops.com Atlantic Region and Freedom Conference Rookie of the Year. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the field.
Dickinson matched a school record 24 wins last year en route to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Sweet 16. The Centennial Conference defending champions, Dickinson finished the season ranked No. 6 in the D3hoops.com Top 25. The Red Devils, who graduated the D3hoops.com National Player of the Year Gerry Wixted, return seniors Brandon Angradi and Ted Hinnenkamp who averaged 13.3 and 12.9 points per game, respectively.
Emory recorded 22 wins season ago, the second highest in program history, and advanced to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Sweet 16 for the second-straight season. The Eagles, who finished the season ranked at No. 7 in the D3hoops.com Top 25, won their fourth-ever UAA conference title after being picked to finish fourth. Emory graduated the D3hoops.com South Region Player of the Year Alex Foster, but return senior Will Trawick and junior Jonathan Terry, who were both named to the UAA all-conference teams.
Salisbury advanced to the Division III NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 1997. The Sea Gulls posted a 21-8 record a year ago and are now under the direction of first-year head coach Andrew Sachs. The defending Capital Athletic Conference champions are led by senior Wyatt Smith who earned All-CAC First Team honors and was named to the ECAC Division III South Men's Basketball All-Star Second Team.
St. John Fisher posted the third-most wins in program history with 25 en route to the Sweet 16. The Cardinals finished the season ranked at No. 18 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll after advancing to the programs fourth-ever round of 16 appearance. In 24 seasons, St. John Fisher has made 15 NCAA appearances. Junior Keegan Ryan leads the Cardinals after earning D3hoops.com All-America Honorable Mention accolades.
St. Thomas, the 2011 national champions, finished 24-4 last season after being upset by Northwestern (Minn.) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tommies have advanced to the Final Four twice in the past seven seasons and have won eight of the last 10 MIAC tournament championships. Head coach John Tauer guided St. Thomas to its fourth straight conference title and 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Stevenson posted a school record 21 wins for the second-straight year en route to the team's second-consecutive ECAC Division III South Championship. The Mustangs have gone 5-0 in postseason games over the last two seasons while advancing to back-to-back MAC Commonwealth championship games. Seniors Eric Fisher and Christian Roberts lead the team after being named to the All-Commonwealth first and second teams, respectively.
Southern Vermont finished with a school-record 25 wins last season and won the NECC regular season championship after going a perfect 16-0 in conference play. The Mountaineers did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament after falling in the NECC championship game, but rebounded to win the ECAC New England championship. Southern Vermont is led by senior DeShawn Hamlet, who was the NECC Player of the Year.
Hoopsville, which is hosted by Dave McHugh, is the only show in the nation dedicated to Division III Basketball. The program airs from 7-9 p.m. ET Thursday nights through December and then twice a week on Sundays and Thursdays from January until the end of the season. For more information, visit http://www.d3hoopsville.com or follow on Twitter @d3hoopsville.
Friday, Nov. 20
DeSales vs. St. John Fisher, 2 p.m.
Southern Vermont vs. Salisbury, 4 p.m.
Dickinson vs. Stevenson, 6 p.m.
St. Thomas vs. Emory, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 21
DeSales vs. Salisbury, 2 p.m.
St. John Fisher vs. Dickinson, 4 p.m.
Southern Vermont vs. St. Thomas, 6 p.m.
Emory vs. Stevenson, 8 p.m.