Hanover, Ind. – After posting its best in-conference finish in six seasons, the Transylvania men's basketball team will open up the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament on Saturday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the HCAC semifinals.
The Pioneers completed their 2018-19 regular season with an overall record of 16-9 and 13-5 in HCAC play, good for a share of second place with Rose-Hulman. By sweeping Rose-Hulman during the regular-season series, the Pioneers clinched the No. 2 seed in the six-team tournament, earning one of two first-round byes to advance into the semifinal round.
Transylvania will face the winner of No. 3 seed Rose-Hulman (17-8, 13-5 HCAC) and No. 4 seed Franklin (11-14, 9-9 HCAC), who square off on Friday.
This weekend's tournament runs from Friday through Sunday, February 24 at Collier Arena on the campus of Hanover College (19-6, 14-4 HCAC), the HCAC No. 1 seed.
The Pioneers swept Rose-Hulman in two regular-season meetings during the 2018-19 season; Transylvania won in Terre Haute, 78-75 on December 8, 2018 and again in Lexington, 81-70 on January 26.
The Pioneers have gone 1-1 against Franklin in the regular season, with each team holding serve at home. Transylvania beat Franklin 76-72 in Lexington on January 16 and Franklin returned the favor to the Pioneers, winning 101-81 in their most recent meeting on February 13.
Transylvania is led in scoring by sophomore guard Michael Jefferson and junior guard Gabe Schmitt, who are each averaging 12 points per contest, ranking 14th in the HCAC. Each player is a bastion of offensive efficiency: Jefferson ranks fifth in the HCAC in field-goal percentage at 59.2 percent while Schmitt ranks seventh in conference in three-point percentage, shooting 41.6 percent from behind the arc on the year. Schmitt has an effective field-goal percentage of 57 percent.
Senior guard Cooper Theobald is the Pioneers' rebounding leader at 5.2 boards per game and is third on the team in scoring at 9.7 points per contest.
Freshman center Luke Schroeder continues a strong first-year campaign at Transylvania, ranking fourth in conference in blocks at 1.0 rejections per contest. Jefferson also stands as the Pioneers' assists leader, ranking sixth in the HCAC at 3.7 dimes per game.
As a whole, the Pioneers are tied for the conference lead in scoring, averaging 75.6 points per game and field goals made with 28.7 makes per contest. The Pioneers lead the conference in assists with 15 dimes per contest and blocks with 3.5 per game. Other areas the Pioneers have excelled is in three-point shooting, averaging 34.8 percent from beyond the arc, and offensive rebounding, averaging 10.7 caroms per game.
The winner of the HCAC Tournament, which concludes with Sunday's 2:00 p.m. championship game, receives the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The 64-team field for the tournament will be revealed the following day, Monday, February 25, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on NCAA.com.
Transylvania is aiming for its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 2012-2013 season as it ventures into this week's conference tournament.
Admission to each day's session is $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens ages 65 and over, $5 for children ages 12-17, and free to children ages 11 and under as well as faculty, staff, and students with a valid HCAC institution ID. A no-pass list is also in effect for tournament games this weekend.
All games will be broadcast live by Hanover College.
For more on Transylvania men's basketball, follow @TransyHoops on Twitter