NCAA Division III Final Four Set for Friday

NCAA Division III Final Four Set for Friday

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – For the first time in 23 years, the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship will be played away from the Salem Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia.  Manchester University will welcome some of the top Division III men's basketball programs in the country, as the Spartans will host the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Final Four at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana March 15-16.

Swarthmore, Wheaton (Ill.), Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Christopher Newport have all advanced to this year's Final Four.

NCAA.com will broadcast the Semifinals and the NABC All-Star Game.  The NCAA Championship Game will be broadcast live on CBS.com. 

Final Four Schedule

Friday March 15

NCAA Semifinal 1 – Christopher Newport vs. Swarthmore – 6 p.m.

NCAA Semifinal 2 – Wisconsin-Oshkosh vs. Wheaton (Ill.) – 8 p.m.

Saturday March 16

Reese's NABC All-Star Game – 4:30 p.m.

National Championship Game – 7:06 p.m.

How They Got Here:

The Christopher Newport Captains (29-3) will bring a 13-game win streak to the Hoosier State this weekend.  CNU, ranked No. 9 in the D3Hoops.com final regular season poll, won both the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) regular season and tournament titles. 

The Captains rolled to an 85-59 victory over Albertus Magnus College in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.  In the second round, CNU defeated the Alfred Saxons 88-53.  Last weekend, Christopher Newport battled past No. 10 Hamilton 75-67 in New York.  The Captains punched their second-ever ticket to the NCAA Final Four following a 79-70 triumph over No. 19 Williams in the Elite 8. 

CNU is led by senior Marcus Carter, who was recently named to the All-Middle Atlantic Region First Team.  Carter was a first team All-American as a sophomore and first team All-Conference member this year in the Capital Athletic Conference. Marcus is currently fifth on CNU's all-time scoring list with 1,809 points, just 12 points behind Conley Taylor for fourth on the all-time list. It is his third career All-Region honor from D3hoops.com.  Head Coach John Krikorian was the Co-Coach of the Year in the Middle Atlantic Region and has been selected the CAC's Coach of the Year the last four seasons and has guided the Captains for the last nine years. He has compiled a record at CNU of 210-52 (.802), and this week is leading the Captains to their second Final Four appearance in the last four years, and second in the 52-year history of the program.

The Swarthmore College Garnet (28-3) will also be making its first appearance at the NCAA Final Four.  Swarthmore also will bring a lengthy win streak – 14 games – to Indiana this weekend.  The Garnet won both the regular season and tournament titles in the Centennial Conference this season. 

Swarthmore achieved a 17-point victory (90-73) over Mitchell College in the NCAA Tournament First Round.  A historic shooting performance in the second round carried SC past No. 12 MIT 105-65.  The Garnet made 72.5 percent of its field goals (37-51) and made 14-17 three-point field attempts (82.4 percent).  Swarthmore hit a late triple and defended the final possession against No. 5 Randolph-Macon in the Sweet Sixteen, winning 58-57.  The Garnett punched its ticket to Fort Wayne with a 69-65 victory over No. 14 Nichols in the Elite 8.

Swarthmore place two players on the D3Hoops.com All-Middle Atlantic Region Team inCam Wiley, who was also named Regional Player of the Year, and Zac O'Dell.  Head coach Landry Kosmalski garnered Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Middle Atlantic Region.

Traditional power Wisconsin-Oshkosh is no stranger to the Final Four.  The No. 4 Titans (29-3) will be making their second consecutive trip to the national Final Four.  A season ago, UWO fell in the title game to Nebraska Wesleyan.  Wisconsin-Oshkosh received an at-large bid to this year's NCAA Tournament. 

The Titans opened the national tournament with an 86-62 win over Lake Forest College.  The second round saw Wisconsin-Oshkosh top the University of Northwestern (Minn.) 108-86.  UWO battled past No. 20 Loras College, 86-75, in the Sweet Sixteen and topped Guilford 82-79 in the Elite 8.

Ben Boots, the WIAC Player of the Year, was named to All-Central Region First Team by D3hoops.com after leading the Titans with 15.7 points and 4.1 assists per game, 81 made 3-pointers and a .877 free throw percentage. The program's all-time leader with 406 career assists and 266 made 3-pointers, Boots ranks seventh on the school's scoring list with 1,664 points.  Interim head coach Matt Lewis was named the WIAC Coach of the Year this season, and he has compiled a .893 winning percentage during his first season at the helm of the program.

Wheaton College has been the dark horse of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.  Another at-large bid to the dance this season, the Thunder (23-8) finished third in the CCIW this season.  WC will also be making its first Division III Final Four.

The Thunder defeated Hanover College, 84-73, and Wooster, 78-70, in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  Wheaton then defeated CCIW-rival Augustana, 93-79, in the Sweet Sixteen.  The Thunder then gutted out a 81-87 triumph over Marietta in the Elite 8 to punch its ticket to Fort Wayne.

Senior guard Aston Francis has put together arguably one of the greatest seasons ever for a college basketball player, regardless of division. Francis leads all of NCAA Division III with 33.9 points per game and scored an NCAA Division III Tournament record 62 points in the Thunder's win on Saturday night against Marietta.  Francis, both the CCIW Player of the Year and D3hoops.com Central Region Player of the Year, leads the nation in made field goals (333), made 3-pointers (168), and made free throws (218).  Head coach Mike Schauer was tabbed as the D3Hoops.com Central Region Coach of the Year.