Rowan men’s basketball gets NCAA tournament bid for the third consecutive season

Rowan men's basketball will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season beginning on Friday, March 1. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

On Feb. 26, the NCAA Division lll Basketball committee announced the 64 teams that will play in the NCAA Division lll Tournament to crown the best team in Division lll men’s basketball.

Last season, Rowan was a unanimous selection after winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship, but since they lost to the eventual champion TCNJ in the semifinal round this year, they had to wait and see if their regular season success was enough to earn them a spot in the tournament.

The committee ultimately decided that Rowan’s strength of schedule and out-of-conference wins were enough to earn a bid to the tournament.

Now, for the third consecutive season, the Profs will compete in the tournament with hopes of winning the title, a feat that the program hasn’t achieved since 1996.

While all of the coaches and players are excited to be a part of the big dance, it means a lot to senior Booty Butler, as this will be his first time on the biggest stage in college basketball.

“It was a great feeling especially because I’ve never been to an NCAA tournament before, so it’s gonna be my first experience and I’m very happy and excited for the opportunity to go out and get some wins,” Butler said.

Rowan was able to make a deep run in the tournament last season, but a 91-72 loss to Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the sweet sixteen made the team fall short of advancing to the elite eight.

Senior Marcellus Ross was a part of that team and even though it was a disappointing end, Ross views it as a learning experience that will help prepare the team for a deeper run this year.

“I feel like everything is easier the second time around,” Ross said. “That first time around you just don’t know what things need to happen as a team in order for it to get done, so having that experience the prior year helps us out a lot.”

Rowan will have to go through a different path than they did previously if they want to make another appearance in the sweet sixteen and beyond. Last season, the Profs had the luxury of playing their first and second-round games in Glassboro, but they will be on the road for their first and potential second matchups.

Friday, March 1 is when the Profs will travel to Washington, D.C. for a 3:15 p.m. tipoff against the 16-9 Carnegie Mellon Tartans out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Catholic (24-3) and Worcester State (18-9) will play that same day with the winners of each game facing off on Saturday, March 2 at 5:45 p.m.

Rowan has the edge in experience over Carnegie Mellon as this is the Tartans’ first tournament appearance since 2009, but the Profs learned firsthand from TCNJ that they can’t take their opponents lightly and need to come ready to play.

“We’ve got the team to do it, we’ve just got to handle business,” Ross said. “To win the weekend we need to take it one day at a time and give our best every day and that starts in practice, as long as we win those days in practice it should translate to the game.”

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