Men’s basketball: North Central to face defending champs
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media March 8, 2013 5:34PM
North Central's Charlie Rosenberg shoots the ball over Augustana defender Ben Ryan during a Jan. 12 game. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
When the pairings for the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship were unveiled, third-ranked North Central College found itself in arguably the toughest bracket in the nation.
Following Saturday’s 66-50 win over Centre College in the first round, the Cardinals knew their next opponent would be defending national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater. According to D3hoops.com, North Central is ranked third in the nation and Whitewater is fifth, but despite that, they are meeting in the round of 32 in the tournament and not later on down the line.
“I was actually really proud when I found that out,” NCC forward Charlie Rosenberg said. “Our team was like, whatever. We have to beat good teams to get to the national championship anyway. If anything, it’s better to play better teams so we’re ready for the national championship game. I think it’s a good thing.”
The Cardinals were designated the home team for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game, which would normally be a good thing. North Central is 14-0 at home this season and has a 17-game home win streak dating back to last year. However, North Central is hosting the NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend, making Gregory Arena unavailable.
So the Cardinals will take the show down Chicago Avenue to Benedictine University’s Rice Center for the game.
The Cardinals (25-3) played a rugged schedule this season, going 6-2 against teams who were nationally ranked at the time of the game. CCIW foes Illinois Wesleyan and Wheaton are two of the ranked teams they played, and they both won their first-round playoff games as well. That schedule should serve the Cardinals well going up against Whitewater.
“Considering we have a lot of experience, that helps a lot,” Rosenberg said. “Also the fact that we’re in the CCIW, the whole season prepares us to play better teams, and I don’t think other teams have that.”
Whitewater is the defending national champion, and the Warhawks (24-4) opened the playoffs with a 58-42 win over Dubuque last Saturday. They roll into the second round on a 10-game winning streak.
Much like the Cardinals, Whitewater features a balanced offensive attack with four players averaging between 12.0 and 10.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Quardell Young leads the team at 12.0 points per game, with junior guard Eric Bryson, freshman forward Darnell Harris and senior forward Luke Knoble also averaging double figures. Harris is the leading rebounder at 5.9 per game. Bryson led the team with 13 points in the win over Dubuque.
“It’s a great challenge,” North Central coach Todd Raridon said. “I think the CCIW has gotten us ready to play in the postseason. It’s a game that we’re looking forward to. I’m sure Whitewater is looking forward to it also.”