Home sweet home, indeed.
For the third time in as many weeks, Whitworth will host an NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament game, this time in the Sweet 16 against Mary Hardin-Baylor of Belton, Texas, Saturday night at Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates (26-3) are in the NCAAs for the seventh straight time, but will host a tournament game beyond the second round for the first time in school history. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The winner will advance to the national quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on March 22-23 in Salem, Va.
Whitworth is coming off an 86-67 win Saturday over Emory of Atlanta, while Mary Hardin-Baylor (24-5) advanced with a 117-92 win over Concordia of Texas.
After hearing that score Saturday night, Whitworth coach Matt Logie deadpanned, “Our goal is always to hold them to less than 100 points.”
The Pirates have already done that against these same Crusaders, winning 70-61 in Spokane on Nov. 23.
“In my opinion they’re probably the premier (Division III) program in Texas, at least,” Logie said. “They’re a very talented team. We saw that here in November and I’m sure they’ve continued to improve, as have we.”
Last season Whitworth traveled to Belton for the first and second rounds of the Division III tournament, but the Pirates and Crusaders did not meet up in either round.
Last year, the Pirates fell in the Sweet 16 round to Virginia Wesleyan, 74-71 in overtime.