HANOVER, Ind. – The No. 16 Hanover men's basketball team will conclude the non-conference portion of its 2017-18 schedule this weekend with a pair of neutral site contests at the Wittenberg (Ohio) Kiwanis Holiday Classic.
The Panthers (7-2, 3-1 HCAC) will open tournament play against No. 19 Marietta (Ohio) at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 29 before facing Ohio-Chillicothe at 2:15 p.m., the following afternoon.
THE TEAMS: Hanover is off to another strong start in 2017-18, posting a 7-2 overall record and a 3-1 mark in HCAC play. The Panthers have spent the entire season inside the top 20 of the D3hoops.com National Top 25 poll, coming in at No. 16 for the second consecutive edition. The team has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the preseason poll, and spent an additional stint inside the top five with the Week Two poll. The Blue and Red are averaging close to 80 points per game, while the defense is conceding a conference-best 66.9 points per contest.
Marietta is also a member of the D3hoops Top 20, currently coming in at No. 19. The Pioneers, who like the Panthers, have made an appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament Elite Eight over the past few years, is 7-2 overall. Marietta is yet to drop a non-conference contest this season, posting a 5-0 mark, while also hoisting a 5-0 record away from home. They have won two of their last three games, scoring over 80 points in each contest.
With one regular season contest unaccounted for, Ohio-Chillicothe enters tournament play 5-7 overall and has a 5-1 mark in Ohio Regional Campus Conference action. The Hilltoppers will be facing their first two NCAA Division III opponents of the season, but have dropped all four of their games against NAIA institutions. Hanover has defeated two regional Ohio campus since the start of the 2016-17 season, outscoring its opponents by an average margin of 53.5 points per game.
PANTHERS, PIONEERS STREAKING: Both Hanover and Marietta have been familiar names in recent D3hoops.com National Top 25 polls, as each side currently holds one of the nation's 10 longest streaks for consecutive weeks in the rankings. The Pioneers have the longest active streak in the D3hoops poll, making an appearance in 45 straight editions. The Blue and Red have made nine consecutive appearances, which is ninth best in the NCAA.
LAST TIME OUT: The Panthers are coming off their second straight stout defensive effort, defeating Defiance on the road, 74-51, back on Dec. 16. Hanover's victory over the Yellow Jackets marked the first time in nearly two years that the team held back-to-back opponents to under 60 points.
The Blue and Red had five players score at least nine points in the win, including junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio), who had a team high 16 points. The junior also had five assists, four rebounds and three steals in the win. Classmate Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) and sophomore Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.) each logged three steals as well, while combining for 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
UP NEXT: Hanover will return to conference play once the calendar turns over to 2018. The Panthers will host Rose-Hulman at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 3, before closing out the opening week of the New Year with a 3 p.m., Saturday afternoon tip at Manchester.
Contact: Tyler Jester