HADLEY, Mass. - Tufts finished the conference schedule with an 8-2 record to earn the top seed in the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time in program history. The Jumbos will begin pursuit of their first NESCAC title when quarterfinal round action gets underway on Saturday, February 18. Middlebury, Amherst and Wesleyan have also earned the right to host quarterfinal round contests. The highest seed following the quarterfinals will host both semifinals and the final on February 25-26. The NESCAC champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Tufts (19-5, 8-2 NESCAC) and Middlebury both finished league play with 8-2 records, but the Jumbos earned the No. 1 seed thanks to a 91-85 victory over Middlebury in Medford, Massachusetts on January 13 to win the head-to-head tiebreak. The Jumbos started off conference play strong with a 6-0 mark. Its two setbacks in the league were at Bates on January 28 and at Amherst on February 4. The No. 1 seed marks the highest for the program since 2005 when the Jumbos were the No. 2 seed. Tufts is making its eighth straight playoff appearance and looking to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.
The Jumbos will face No. 8 Hamilton (15-8, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals and will mark the first postseason meeting between the two teams. Hamilton finished the regular season with the same conference record as Bates. The Bobcats defeated the Continentals, 83-78, on January 13 to win the head-to-head tiebreak and earn the seventh seed.
The Continentals are in the NESCAC Championship for the third time in program history and the first time since 2014. Hamilton is 1-3 in February and dropped a 94-81 decision at Tufts in the regular season on January 14.
Middlebury (20-3, 8-2 NESCAC), the defending NESCAC Champion, is the second seed for the first time since 2012. The Panthers have earned a tournament berth for the tenth time in eleven years. Last season, Middlebury defeated Amherst, 81-79, at Trinity to capture its third NESCAC Championship in program history. The Panthers enter the tournament riding a seven-game win streak.
Middlebury will meet No. 7 Bates (15-9, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Bobcats are back in the NESCAC Championship after missing out last season. Bates went 3-3 in its last six games, but ended the regular season with three straight losses. A win over the Panthers in the first postseason meeting between the two squads would put the Bobcats in the semifinals for the first time since 2012.
Amherst (17-6, 7-3 NESCAC) is the No. 3 seed for the first time since 2011. The Purple & White have appeared in every tournament field since its inception in 2001. Amherst has won seven of its last nine games. Another victory would propel the Purple & White into the semifinals for the seventh straight year. Amherst aims to play in the championship game for the sixth consecutive season.
The Purple & White will take on No. 6 Williams (17-7, 5-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Ephs, like Amherst, have been in every tournament field. Williams is 4-1 in its last five games entering tournament play and closed out the regular season with a 65-62 win over Bates. The Ephs are 0-2 against the Purple & White this season, losing the conference contest, 80-72, in Williamstown and falling 72-64 in Amherst in a Little Three matchup. The two teams have squared off eight times in the NESCAC Championship with Amherst earning five wins. The two teams last met in the 2014 title game, which Amherst won.
The final quarterfinal matchup pits in-state rivals No. 4 Wesleyan (19-5, 6-4 NESCAC) against No. 5 Trinity (15-9, 6-4 NESCAC). Both teams finished at 6-4 in the league standings, but the Cardinals earned the fourth seed by virtue of a 65-61 win over the Bantams on January 14. Wesleyan enters the tournament having won eight of its last 10. The Cardinals are the No. 4 seed and will host a quarterfinal contest for the first time since 2012. The Cardinals look to advance to the semifinal round for the second time in three years. Wesleyan is 2-2 against Trinity in the NESCAC Tournament. The two teams last met in the 2015 semifinals with the Cardinals registering a victory. Trinity is the fifth seed for the second time in four years and making its fourth straight playoff appearance. The Bantams won two of their last three games to close the regular season and are 4-0 in their last four NESCAC quarterfinal contests.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.