HADLEY, Mass. – The Amherst Mammoths emerged as the top seed for the 2018 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship from a five-way tie for first place. The tournament gets underway on with quarterfinal action on Saturday, February 17 at the top four seeds and continues with semifinals and the final on February 24 and 25 at the highest remaining seed.
Amherst (16-8, 7-3 NESCAC) finished in a tie for first place with Hamilton, Middlebury, Wesleyan and Williams. The Mammoths earned key wins over the Panthers and Ephs on the final weekend of regular season to post a 3-1 record against the other teams tied at the top, to grab the No. 1 seed. In comparing the head-to-head records of the other four teams, Williams, Hamilton and Wesleyan went 2-2, while Middlebury went 1-3. As a result, Middlebury is the No. 5 seed. When comparing head-to-head results between Williams, Hamilton and Wesleyan, Williams went 2-0, Hamilton went 1-1 and Wesleyan went 0-2. As a result of the head-to-head comparison, Williams earned the No. 2 seed, Hamilton is the No. 3 seed and Wesleyan earned the No. 4 seed.
The Mammoths are the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2014 and the ninth time overall. Amherst started the year 7-1, struggled in the middle of the season, but closed out the regular season winning seven of its final nine games. The Mammoths own the best rebounding margin in the league at +11.5 and rank second overall in rebounds per game (45.7). Amherst is also holding opponents to 36.8 shooting from the field, which is second best in the conference. The Mammoths have seven NESCAC titles to their credit and won three straight from 2012 to 2014. Amherst is 8-0 in the quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed and will host No. 8 Bowdoin (15-8, 4-6 NESCAC) in the opening round.
Bowdoin returns to the NESCAC Championship following a one-year hiatus and is the No. 8 seed for the first time since 2011 and fourth time overall. Trinity, Bowdoin and Bates all finished with identical conference records of 4-6. In head-to-head competition, the three teams all went 1-1, and all three teams won four conference games. In comparing records against the teams in the top 4, including all teams tied for 4th, Trinity went 2-3, Bowdoin went 1-4, and Bates went 0-5. As a result, Trinity is the No. 7 seed and Bowdoin earned the No. 8 seed. The Polar Bears started the season with a 6-0 record, but went 1-4 in the final five games of the regular season. Bowdoin owns the best 3-point field goal percentage in the conference (38.3%), and ranks second in both field goal (46.8%) and free throw percentage (74.6%). The Polar Bears also rank second in the NESCAC in assists, averaging 17.0 helpers per contest.
The Mammoths are 5-1 against the Polar Bears in the NESCAC Championship series. The teams last met in the 2016 quarterfinals, with Amherst posting an 83-76 victory. Amherst, which defeated Bowdoin, 75-60, on January 27 in Brunswick, Maine during the regular season, is looking to move on to the semifinals for the seventh time in eight years. A Polar Bear win would mark Bowdoin’s first trip to the semifinals since 2015 in its quest for its first NESCAC title.
No. 2 Williams (19-5, 7-3) will host No. 7 Trinity (15-9, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Ephs are the No. 2 seed for the fifth time overall and first time since 2014. Williams suffered just one loss in its first nine games of the year and finished the regular season with an 8-2 mark over its final 10 games. The Ephs lead the conference in field goal percentage (47.2%) and has the best defense in the NESCAC, holding opponents to 62.9 points per game to opponents. Last year’s NESCAC Runner-Up, Williams has won four NESCAC Championships, with the last title coming in 2010.
Trinity is in the NESCAC Championship for the fifth consecutive season and is the No. 7 seed for the third time and first since 2010. The Bantams rank among the top defenses in the league, allowing 64.8 points per game and are holding opponents to 30.0 percent shooting from long range. Trinity is 5-0 in its last five quarterfinal contests and looks to advance to the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season. The Bantams have one NESCAC Championship to their credit, winning the title in 2008.
Williams is 2-0 versus the Bantams in the NESCAC Championship. The two teams last faced each other in the 2011 semifinals, with the Ephs earning a 79-69 victory. This season, Williams earned a 75-58 win in Hartford on January 26.
Hamilton (20-3, 7-3 NESCAC) is the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC Championship. Hamilton, which opened the season winning its first 15 consecutive games, will host No. 6 Tufts (17-7, 6-4 NESCAC). The Continentals are making their second straight tournament appearance and fourth since 2011. Hamilton, which reached the 20-win mark for the first time since the 2005-06 season, has the highest scoring offense in the NESCAC at 87.4 points per game and are forcing opponents into a league-high 18.4 turnovers per game. The Continentals are in search of their first trip to the semifinal round.
Tufts is making its eighth straight appearance in the tournament and is the No. 6 seed for the second time, the last being 2007. The Jumbos put together a nine-game win streak in the middle of the season and enter the NESCAC Championship having won three of their last four games. Tufts ranks third in the league in scoring, averaging 78.6 points per game and is also third in the conference in rebounding (44.1). The Jumbos are looking to advance to the semifinals for the third straight year as they pursue their first NESCAC title.
Tufts is 1-0 against Hamilton in the NESCAC Championship series, posting an 81-63 victory in last year’s quarterfinal round. The Continentals defeated Tufts, 74-57, in Medford, Mass. during the regular season on February 3.
The final quarterfinal matchup features No. 4 Wesleyan (19-5, 7-3 NESCAC) hosting No. 5 Middlebury (19-5, 7-3 NESCAC). The Cardinals are the No. 4 seed for the second straight season and third time overall. Wesleyan started the season 9-0 and has won nine of its last 11 games, including three straight, entering the tournament. The Cardinals are holding opponents to a league-low 36.4 percent shooting from the field and allowing 63.4 points per game. The Cardinals are aiming for their first trip to the semifinals since 2015, the same year they captured their only NESCAC title.
Middlebury is the No. 5 seed for the first time since 2001 and will be playing a quarterfinal road game for the first time since 2004. The Panthers, the two-time defending NESCAC Champions, had won 11 consecutive games before falling at Hamilton and Amherst to close out the regular season. Middlebury is the second highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 81.3 points per game. The Panthers lead the league in rebounding (47.8) and assists (18.5), while ranking second in blocks (5.4).
Middlebury is 3-0 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC Championship and will be looking to make a third straight appearance in the semifinals. The teams last met in the 2016 quarterfinals with the Panthers registering an 86-74 victory. During the regular season, Wesleyan posted an 80-70 win in Middletown, Connecticut in the second game of the conference schedule.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.