College Men’s Basketball News – Guilford Opens NCAA Tournament Play Friday in Ohio

Quakers travel to Marietta, Ohio to face Thomas More March 3rd (5:00 p.m.)

GUILFORD’S INVITATION: Guilford College (23-5) received its fifth invitation to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Quakers, who earned one of 43 automatic bids to the 64-team field by winning the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament title Sunday, travel to a four-team regional tourney in Marietta, Ohio.

Ranked 23rd in this week’s Top 25 Poll, Guilford plays Thomas More College (22-6) Friday (3/3) at 5:00 p.m. The game will be followed by Calvin College (17-10) versus site host Marietta College (24-4) at 7:30 p.m. The winners of Friday’s contests meet Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the second round. All first- and second-games will be played in Marietta’s Ban Johnson Arena.

TICKET INFORMATION: Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students of the participating schools (with ID). Children under two years old will be admitted free. Pre-sale tickets for the NCAA first round games will be available in the Ban Johnson Arena Lobby from 6:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Remaining tickets will also be sold when the doors open at 3:30 p.m. on game day. An allotment of tickets will be reserved for each visiting institution. Any extra tickets will be added to the inventory available on game day.

The first round will be a split session with the arena being cleared between games. Fans can not leave personal belongings in the facility between games.

Single game NCAA Tournament tickets prices are $10 for adults, and $5 for students and seniors. It is a cash-only event.

SERIES RESULTS: The Quakers face Thomas More of Crestview Hills, Kentucky, for the first time in their recorded basketball histories. Thomas More won a share of the 2017 regular-season Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC), and won the PAC Tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.

Guilford won the lone meeting with Marietta, 82-60, in 2009 in a nonconference matchup on the Pioneers home floor. Ranked eighth in this weeks Top 25 Poll, Marietta captured the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament to receive an automatic bid to the NCAAs. Pioneers’ head coach Jon VanderWal served a graduate assistant coach to Guilford mentor Tom Palombo, when the two were at Defiance College from 2001-03.

Guilford has never played Calvin College in the schools’ recorded history. The Knights, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) to earn an automatic bid to the tournament. Calvin is no stranger to the national playoffs, as it makes its 21st NCAA appearance.

GUILFORD VS. 2017 NCAA PLAYOFF FIELD: The Quakers faced only one other NCAA playoff team this winter, Emory University. The Quakers fell to the Eagles, 69-66, early in the season in a double-overtime thriller in the Guilford College Invitational Championship.

GUILFORD IN NCAA PLAYOFFS: The Quakers are making their fifth NCAA playoff appearance and their first since a streak of four straight playoff appearances ended in 2010. Guilford owns a 12-4 record in NCAA Tournament games. In 2009 and 2010, the Quakers reached the national semifinals.

Before joining NCAA Division III in 1991, Guilford competed in the NAIA and posted an 8-8 mark in seven national tournament appearances. Led by future NBA players M.L. Carr ‘’73, World B. Free ’76 and Greg Jackson ’74, the Quakers won the 1973 NAIA men’s basketball title.

THE 2017 NCAA PLAYOFFS: Forty-three conferences have been granted automatic qualification for the 2017 championship, while 21 other at-large teams from the remaining independent teams and automatic-qualifying conferences who did not receive their conference automatic qualification (Pool C) were selected by using specific selection criteria approved by the Division III Championships Committee.

Sixteen sites will host four teams for first and second-round competition Friday-Saturday, March 3-4. Second-round winners will advance to one of four sectional-round sites March 10-11. Winners of the four sectional games will advance to the semifinals and finals March 17 and 18. All games, except the semifinals and finals, will be played on the campuses of competing institutions. The semifinals and finals will be conducted at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia.

GUILFORD LEADERS: Coach Tom Palombo’s Quakers enter the tournament having won 21 of their last 25 games, including three at the ODAC Tournament, to win its first league title since 2010. Guilford’s 20-5 regular-season mark was the best since the Quakers advanced to the national semifinals in 2010.

Palombo, who took Defiance College to the NCAA Division III men’s basketball playoffs in 1999 and 2001, is making his eighth NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearance. He is in his fourteenth year at Guilford and a record-tying four-time winner of the Bob Johnson ODAC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year Award. The 1989 Virginia Wesleyan College graduate won his 500th career basketball game as a men’s and women’s coach, this past January.

Sophomore Carson Long, Guilford’s lone First Team All-ODAC honoree, tops the Quakers’ offense with 14.3 points per game and 62 three-pointers. He also averages 5.4 rebounds per game, which ranks third on the club, including 2.4 offensive caroms per contest. Long has 23 blocked shots and 23 steals this year. He has 19 double-figure scoring games, including two 30-point contests. The forward hit for a career- and game-high 32 points in a November 30 home win over league-rival Eastern Mennonite University. Long was named Most Outstanding Player of the ODAC Tournament.

Senior point guard Zachary Houston received Third Team All-ODAC honors and also was named the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season. The team captain leads the ODAC in steals (56, #4 in school history), and steals per game (2.0). He stands fifth in rebounds per game (7.8 rpg.), fourth in offensive rebounds per game (2.4 orpg.), fourth in assists (3.7 apg.), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9), and third in minutes (34.1 mpg.). Ranked 12th among current Division III assist-to-turnover ration leaders, Houston played 103 minutes in the ODAC Tournament and committed one turnover. He also sealed Guilford’s title-game victory with five-of-six free-throw shooting in the final 1:42.

Sophomore forward Alston Thompson joined Houston as a third-team all-league honoree this season. The ODAC’s 2016 Rookie of the Year, he averages 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He has Guilford’s third-best field-goal percentage (.469) among regulars and can drain the occasional outside shot. Also a solid defender and passer, Thompson contributes nearly one steal and 1.6 assists per game. He leads the Quakers with four double-doubles this year.

DOUBLE THE FUN: For the first time in school history, both of Guilford’s basketball teams won the ODAC title, which means both squads advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament, another first. There are 20 schools with teams in both NCAA Division III basketball tourneys this year. The Quakers’ women open tournament play Friday at home against Marymount (Virgnia) University at 7:30 p.m.