Chris Bartley and the WPI men’s basketball team were determined to find a way into the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament, despite falling to Coast Guard Academy last weekend in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship.
WPI scored some important and impressive wins this season, including a few against some squads that will be competing this afternoon and evening in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. And those victories certainly impressed the committee, which rewarded the Engineers with an at-large bid to the ‘big dance,’ but also a challenging opening-round match-up with Yeshiva University.
The Engineers have not competed in the NCAA Tournament since 2016, but Bartley seemed to determined to lead this year’s squad to the postseason so he could provide his two seniors with an opportunity to contend for a national championship before departing campus later this spring.
“It was our mission to get Jake Wisniewski and (senior) Lou Doherty to the NCAAs,” Bartley said, via Jennifer Toland of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “No senior that I’ve coached here has not made it to the NCAA Tournament.”
Wisniewski and Doherty have attempted to lead the Engineers back to the postseason as first-years, sophomores, and juniors, but will finally have a chance to compete in an NCAA Tournament game this afternoon against a talented Maccabees squad that has not lost a game since early November.
For WPI to advance to Saturday’s second round, they will need both seniors, along with juniors Kahleb Downing, Colin McNamara, and Garrett Stephenson to play their best basketball of the season.
WPI has not advanced past the first round since the 2012-13 season when they beat Purchase College, 80-67, before falling to Randolph-Macon by a score of 79-68.