Three of Elite 8 reunite at Hoopsville Classic

Middlebury's 2012-13 season ended in the Elite Eight in Salem, with a 25-4 mark. photo

Hoopsville National Invitational Classic, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings
2013 schedule

All times p.m., Eastern

Friday, November 22
Ohio Wesleyan vs. La Verne, 12:00
Keystone vs. Trinity (Texas), 2:00
Birmingham-Southern vs. Salisbury, 4:00
Stevenson vs. Middlebury, 6:00
St. Mary's (Md.) vs. Cabrini, 8:00

Saturday, November 23
La Verne vs. Keystone, 3:00
Stevenson vs. Birmingham-Southern, 5:00
Trinity (Texas) vs. Ohio Wesleyan, 7:00

Sunday, November 24
Middlebury vs. St. Mary's (Md.), 1:00
Cabrini vs. Salisbury, 3:00

* Home team listed first

For the second consecutive year, Stevenson University will host the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic presented by Buffalo Wild Wings which will take place at Owings Mills Gymnasium from Nov. 22-24. The classic, which is the biggest on-campus tournament in Division III, is the second-largest event of its kind, behind only the Classic held in Las Vegas.

This year's event will feature 10 teams from seven states, five of which were either ranked or receiving votes in the Top 25 during the 2012-13 season and five who participated in the 2013 Division III NCAA Tournament.

The 2013 field includes Birmingham-Southern, Cabrini, Keystone, La Verne, Middlebury, Ohio Wesleyan, Salisbury, St. Mary's (Md.), Stevenson and Trinity (Texas). The 10 teams averaged more than 20 wins last season while four had its head coach named conference coach of the year.

"We at the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic continue to strive to bring in some of the best teams in the country and others who are up and coming," said tournament executive director Dave McHugh. "We also continue to look to have teams from around the country get a chance to play programs they normally wouldn't play on their regular season schedule."

Cabrini, Middlebury, Ohio Wesleyan, St. Mary's (Md.) and Trinity (Texas) were all ranked last season while Cabrini, Middlebury, Ohio Wesleyan, St. Mary's (Md.) and Trinity (Texas) advanced to the 2013 Division III NCAA Tournament. Cabrini, Middlebury and St. Mary's (Md.) reached the Elite Eight.

"Any time you can get three Elite 8 teams and five NCAA Tournament teams on the same floor early in the season, it's a great thing," said executive editor Pat Coleman. "We don't have preseason exempt tournaments in Division III so there's no extra incentive for these teams to put themselves out there like this, other than the love of high-level competition."

Five of the NCAA's eight Division III regions are represented:  Northeast (1), Mid-Atlantic (5), South (2), Great Lakes (1) and West (1).

The tournament tips off on Friday, November 22 when Ohio Wesleyan takes on La Verne at noon. Some of this year's marquee match-ups include St. Mary's (Md.) versus Cabrini on Friday, November 22 at 8:00 p.m., and Middlebury versus St. Mary's (Md.) on Sunday, November 24 at 1:00 p.m.

"Stevenson is honored to host several of the nation's top collegiate basketball student-athletes, coaches and teams in what has undoubtedly become the premier early-season basketball event in Division III," said founder and director Gary Stewart. "The participating teams are from some of the most prestigious conferences throughout the country offer a breath of diversity and strength that will lend itself to a compelling weekend of basketball."

Birmingham-Southern posted a 20-8 record last season, falling in the Southern Athletic Association championship game. Head coach Chris Graves returns for his third season after spending the previous three as an assistant. The Panthers, who graduated three starters and 45-percent of their scoring, will be led by junior Larry Thomas who led the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game last season.

Cabrini, the Colonial States Athletic Conference champions, finished 25-6 last season, advancing to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion Amherst. Five-time CSAC Coach of the Year Marcus Kahn enters his sixth season after leading his team to four-straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the national championship game in 2012. Junior Aaron Walton-Moss earned CSAC Player of the Year honros after averaging 13.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists in just 16 games a year ago.

Keystone went 18-10 last season, advancing to the Colonial States Athletic Conference championship game before losing to Cabrini. The Giants graduated seven players, four starters and almost half of its scoring, but do return junior Duncan Lunsford who earned All-CSAC First Team honors a year ago after leading the team in scoring at 21.8 points per game. Third-year head coach Nevada Smith helped guide the team to its first victory over a nationally-ranked opponent last December with a 94-93 overtime win versus No. 16 Scranton.

La Verne begins its sixth season under head coach Richard Reed in 2013-14. The Leopards finished with a 10-14 record a year ago, winning nine of its last 13 games after a 1-10 start. The team must replace Jake Vieth who became the first player in school history to be named to the All-Region squad last season. Junior Jourdan Simmonds is the team's lone returning starter from a year ago where he averaged 9.8 points and 1.8 assists.

Middlebury advanced to the team's sixth consecutive NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship, finishing with a 25-4 record after spending most of the season ranked in the top five, including as high as No. 2. The Panthers are led by 16th-year head coach Jeff Brown who must replace three starters from a year ago. The team will look to senior Joey Kizel who averaged 14.3 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 43.1 percent from three-point range.

Ohio Wesleyan made its third overall appearance in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship and its second in a row last season. Led by NCAC Coach of the Year Mike DeWitt, the North Coast Athletic Conference champions spent most of the season ranked in the Top 25 before falling to Cabrini in the second round of the NCAA tournament. After graduating three starters, including All-American Andy Winters, the Battling Bishops welcome back senior Taylor Rieger who averaged 13.9 points while making 69 three-pointers.

Salisbury posted a 19-8 record last season after winning six of their last seven games. The Sea Gulls, who hosted their first Capital Athletic Conference tournament game since 2001, return four of their top five leading scorers, including senior Tim Harwood who was second on the team in scoring at 13.0 points per game. He also made 63 three-pointers while shooting 41 percent from three-point range. The team is led by third-year head coach Josh Merkel, a 2001 graduate with five years of Division I experence as an assistant.

St. Mary's won its fourth Capital Athletic Conference championship in the past six years last season, finishing with a school-record 27 wins. Led by ninth-year head coach Chris Harney, the Seahawks advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time. The team returns three starters, including junior Nick LaGuerre who averaged 13.4 points, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals, all team-highs.

Stevenson finished with a record of 16-10, its fourth-best record in team history and the third-best turnaround in Division III last season. Head coach Gary Stewart returns for his third season and welcomes back sophomore Christian Roberts, the 2013 Commonwealth Conference and ECAC South Rookie of the Year, who averaged 14.6 points, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals. He also made 51 3-pointers, the fifth-highest single-season total in school history.

Trinity (Texas) advanced to its ninth Division III NCAA Tournament last season after winning its seventh Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title. Led by 2013 SCAC Coach of the Year Pat Cunningham, who returns for his 15th season, the Tigers return three players who were named All-SCAC last season. Senior Zach Lambart led the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game while also averaging 5.2 rebounds.

Hoopsville is the only program in the nation dedicated to Division III basketball. The show show airs Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. during November and December before moving to Sundays and Thursdays beginning in January and running through the national championships in March.

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