No. 8 Rollins (24-10) vs. No. 1 Fairmont State (32-2)
Sanford Pentagon – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 – 1 p.m. (ET)
Rollins improbable postseason run continues to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight as the eighth-seed Tars meet top-seed Fairmont State in the national quarterfinals Wednesday, March 22. The Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Fall, South Dakota is the stage to decide the 2016-17 NCAA Division II National Champion. Standing at 8-8 in early January, Rollins has won 16 of its last 18 games, including its current 11-game run, the second longest in the nation. The Tars March run started with a last-second shot to beat Lynn in the Sunshine State Conference quarterfinals, then a hard-fought game over Eckerd and another buzzer-beater against Palm Beach Atlantic to win the SSC Tournament and NCAA South Region bid. The seventh-seed Tars needed overtime to get past second-seed Valdosta State, thumped third-seed Delta State by 27 and beat top-seed Alabama-Huntsville on its home floor to win the South Region championship for the second time in school history. During the streak, Rollins has won nearly every way possible with five victories by five points or less and five coming by double-digits. Now among the final last eight teams standing, Rollins only just received votes in the final national poll of the regular season...Fairmont is also in the Elite Eight for the second time in its history and for the first since the 1997-98 season. The Fighting Falcons were ranked No. 25 in the preseason and have spent time in the nation’s top-five every week since Sept. 6, including two weeks at No. 1. Fairmont is coming out of the Atlantic Region, beating Wheeling Jesuit 86-80 in the championship game. The host and top-seed in the region, FSU rolled past Bowie State 93-67 in the quarterfinals and eighth-ranked Indiana (PA) 84-68 in the semis. Fairmont is one of three teams in the highly-competitive Mountain East Conference ranked nationally the entire season…The Tars and Fighting Falcons is the first of four national quarterfinals at the Sanford Pentagon Wednesday.
TRACKING THE TARS:
Sam Philpott leads the Tars offense with 15.1 points a game after averaging 16 points and shooting 55 percent from the field in the regional tournament. He has scored double-figures 24 times, eclipsing 20-points 11 times. Jeff Merton was the South Region Tournament MVP and is putting up 14.8 points a night while leading the team with 5.6 rebounds a game. The junior averaged 19 points and four rebounds a game in the regional tournament. He has led the Tars in scoring 12 games including each of the last five. Joey Galvis scores 10.4 points a game and ranks third in the nation with 85 steals. The senior has recorded a steal in all but five games this season and posted five in the South Region Championship game against UAH. SSC Freshman of the Year Connor Mckim moved into the Tars starting line-up the third game of the year and is averaging 10.2 points and a team-best 3.8 assists per night. The Louisville native is 88-of-107 at the free throw line this season. Rollins is averaging 81.0 points per game and allowing 78.3 to opponents. The Tars are ninth in the country in three-point shooting, knocking down 41.7 beyond the arc, and hitting 341 total from range. On defense, Rollins as the sixth-most steals in Division II with 304.
TRACKING THE FIGHTING FALCONS:
Fairmont State has the third-highest scoring offense in the nation, lighting up the scoreboard for 96.2 points a night. They are third nationally in both three-point attempts (933) and three-pointers made (382). On defense, FSU is third in the nation with 350 steals. Matt Bingaya tops the Fighting Falcons potent offense with 19.4 points a game. He is shooting 60 percent from the field and also grabs 7.3 rebounds a night. The Ohio native was named NABC First Team All-America on Monday. Thomas Wimbush averages 16 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. He posted 26 points in the Atlantic Region Championship game over Wheeling Jesuit. Jason Jolly is getting 12.1 points a game while averaging 3.1 assists a game. D’Ondre Stockman scores 11.1 points a game and Vonte Montgomery scores 10.6 a game. Shammgod Wells adds 7.8 points a game is handing out 5.7 assists a game. Fairmont outrebounds opponents by two and a half a game and are forcing nearly five more turnovers than they commit.
Rollins is playing in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second time in school history. The Tars met Metro State in the 2004 Elite Eight, falling 88-54. Eric Faber led Rollins with 17 points and six rebounds while Chad Dirks netted 12.
The Tars are in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time; Rollins is 14-15 all-time in NCAA postseason play.
Fairmont State is in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time and making a second trip to the Elite Eight.
Rollins 11-game winning streak is the second-longest current in NCAA Division II. The Tars were 8-8 overall and 2-5 in the Sunshine State Conference on January 11th.
Rollins is 2-2 all-time against schools from West Virginia (Bluefield State 1-1, Glenville State 1-0, West Virginia Tech 0-1); Fairmont is 0-1 against Florida Schools, falling to Florida Gulf Coast in 2005.
Rollins and Fairmont State have no common opponents this year.
Rollins was never ranked in either national poll this season. Fairmont has been ranked in the national top-25 the entire year; currently No. 1 in D2SIDA Media Poll/No. 1 NABC Coaches Poll.
Rollins is ninth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage (41.7 percent) and ninth in total three-point field goals made (341).
The Tars rank 13th nationally in steals per game (8.9); Senior Joey Galvis ranks third in the nation with 82 total steals and eighth in steals per game (2.5).
Rollins has trailed in all but two of its victories this season; seven times Rollins overcame double-digit deficits.
Fairmont State ranks third in the nation in scoring offense, putting up 96.2 points a game. The Fighting Falcons are sixth in three-pointers a game (11.2)
Fairmont State is third in the nation in steals per game (10.3) and total steals (350).
FSU’s Shammgod Wells is 10th nationally in 2.44 steals per game and fourth in total steals (830).
Tom Klusman is 677-392 in 37 years as the Tars head coach; he is one of just 16 NCAA Division II coaches with 600 or more wins.
NEXT UP FOR ROLLINS:
The winner of Rollins/Fairmont State will play the winner of Bellarmine and Colorado Mines in the NCAA Division II National Semifinal on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. ET. The NCAA Division II National Championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 25 at 3 p.m. ET on CBS.