National Semifinal Preview: No. 3 Men's Basketball vs. No. 1 Whitman

National Semifinal Preview: No. 3 Men's Basketball vs. No. 1 Whitman

NCAA Tournament—National Semifinals
No. 3 Men's Basketball vs. No. 1 Whitman
Friday, March 17—5 p.m.
Salem Civic Center—Salem, Va.

THE SERIES

Babson and Whitman will meet for the first time on Friday with the winner earning a spot in Saturday's national championship game against Williams or Augustana (Ill.).

BABSON IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Beavers, who are making their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and ninth in program history, return to the Division III Final Four for the second time in three years.

WHITMAN IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
The Blues are making just their second NCAA Tournament appearance and have reached the Final Four for the first time after advancing to the Sweet 16 last winter.

SCOUTING THE BLUES
No. 1 Whitman (31-0) closed the game with a 10-4 run over the final 2:36 to defeat 13th-ranked Rochester, 91-87, in a national quarterfinal contest last Saturday. Sophomore Jack Stewart scored 22 points and classmate Austin Butler finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Blues, who scored 54 second-half points to keep their unbeaten season alive. Junior Tim Howell (20.4 pts, 2.1 ast) was selected as the NABC West District Player of the Year on Wednesday, sophomore Joey Hewitt (13.4 pts, 3.8 reb) is shooting 47.8 percent from the floor and junior Jase Harrison (12.9 pts, 3.9 rebounds) is second on the team with 79 steals. Whitman ranks third in Division III in forced turnovers (21.8) and is sixth nationally in scoring offense (91.8 points).

SCOUTING THE BEAVERS
No. 3 Babson (29-2) shot 61.9 percent and knocked down 13 three-pointers in its 102-79 win over Keene State last Saturday in the national quarterfinals. Senior Joey Flannery scored 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting, while classmate Charlie Rice contributed a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds for the Beavers, who outscored the Owls 51-33 in the second half. Flannery (23.4 pts, 7.1 reb, 3.7 ast) ranks 11th in Division III history in scoring and has scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive games, junior Nick Comenale (15.8 pts, 5.5 reb, 2.4 ast) ranks fourth nationally with 102 three-point field goals, and senior Isaiah Nelsen (13.2 pts, 6.0 reb) is shooting 63.2 percent on the year. The Green and White ranks fourth in Division III in scoring margin (15.2) and eighth in field goal percentage defense (38.4).

MEN OF MARCH
One of just two teams to advance to the Sweet 16 in each of the last three years, the Beavers have gone 11-2 in the month of March over the last two seasons.

NEXT MAN UP
After combining to start just one game prior to February 1, Rice and junior Chris Lowry have come up huge in Babson's run to the Final Four. Rice is averaging 13.0 points on 57.1 percent shooting to go along with 7.8 rebounds in four NCAA Tournament games, while Lowry is dishing out 4.0 assists and scored a career-high 10 points in Saturday's win over Keene State.

LASTING LEGACY
Flannery was selected as the D3hoops.com Northeast Region Player of the Year and the NABC Northeast District Player of the Year for the third consecutive season earlier this week. The active NCAA leader (Division I, II and III) in both points (2,573) and made free throws (679), Flannery has scored a single-season program record 703 points this winter.

RETURN TO THE ROAD
The Beavers, are 10-1 away from home this season, have played each of their last night games at home. Their last road contest was a 77-50 rout of Clark back on February 11.

EXPLOSIVE EFFICIENCY
Babson, which scored 98 of its 102 points against Keene State in the paint, beyond the arc or at the free throw line, shot a blistering 76.5 percent (26-of-34) on two-point field goal attempts against the Owls.

THREE DECADES IN THE MAKING
The Green and White is looking to become the first Babson program to reach the national title game in any sport since men's ice hockey defeated Union to win the 1984 Division III championship.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Beavers are 18-0 this season when outrebounding their opponents.

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