Panthers picked to lead HCAC this winter

Wes McKinney driving to the rim (Graphic)


GREENWOOD, Ind. – Fresh off its best NCAA Tournament run in program history and a pair of conference championships, the Hanover men's basketball team has been picked by the HCAC head coaches to finish atop the league standings again in 2017-18.

Hanover recorded 99 total points, including nine of the 10 first place votes to take the top spot in the preseason poll. Mount St. Joseph received the other first place vote, as the Lions totaled 88 points. Transylvania, who took HC to the wire three times last season, ranked third with 73 points.

Rounding out the remainder of the poll was Rose-Hulman (68), Anderson (67), Manchester (43), Defiance (33), Franklin (28), Bluffton (27) and Earlham (24).

The Panthers are coming off a 26-4 overall season, which saw them advance to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time in program history. Hanover finished HCAC play with a program high 16 wins, to just two losses, earning its first regular season title since 2004-05. The squad then hosted the conference tournament, where they defeated Transylvania and Mt. St. Joseph for the championship and automatic bid in the national tournament.

The Blue and Red also have garnered national preseason recognition ahead of this winter's campaign, coming in at No. 7 in Street & Smith's 2017-18 Basketball Preview Top 10. Senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) was also named by Street & Smith's as a preseason second team all-American.

This is the ninth consecutive year that HC has been predicted to finish among the top four in the conference and the first time they have been chosen to lead the way since the 2014-15 season. The team finished in a tie for fifth in 2014-15, while advancing to the conference tournament semifinals.

The preseason prognosis for the Panthers under Miller shows that the conference ranking has been fairly accurate. The team has finished no worse or better than two spots below or above in the final regular season standings in eight of the last nine years.

Hanover will continue preparations for the 2017-18 season when they travel to face NCAA Division I foe, Butler, in an exhibition contest at 2 p.m., this Saturday, Oct. 28.

Contact: Tyler Jester