GREENWOOD, Ind. – Mount St. Joseph University has been voted as the frontrunner in the 2016-17 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship race. The Lions, who shared the HCAC championship with Defiance last winter, received six first place votes in the coaches' preseason poll. Mount garnered 93 points overall in the poll. Transylvania University received 74 points and one first place vote to follow behind Mount St. Joseph.
Hanover College has been forecasted as the third place team by receiving 73 points in the poll and one first place vote. Manchester University's 66 points and one first place vote placed the Spartans fourth and were followed by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (60 pts) in fifth position. Anderson University (54), Defiance College (53, 1 1st place vote), Franklin College (37), Bluffton University (23), and Earlham College (17) round out the poll.
MSJ will be looking to capture its third-straight HCAC title this winter. The Lions shared the championship with Defiance a year ago, posting a 18-10 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the HCAC. Mount St. Joseph defeated Rose-Hulman in the conference tournament championship, 93-88. The Lions played Hope College in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament and were defeated, 98-87, ending its season.
The Lions return a pair of honorable mention All-HCAC players from last year's team. Junior guard Erik Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio / Roger Bacon) averaged 12.2 points per game with 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest. Junior guard Andrew Finley (Cincinnati, Ohio / Walnut Hills) averaged 10.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest as a sophomore to earn honorable mention all-conference honors.
Transylvania will look to challenge Mount St. Joseph in the race to the top of the conference standings this winter after finishing seventh in the standings a year ago. The Pioneers return one All-HCAC players from last year's team. Senior guard Alex Jones (Louisville, Ky. / Saint Xavier) averaged 16.4 points per game last year as a junior, along with 4.5 rebounds and assists per game for the Pioneers.
Hanover strives to make a run at the title this winter after finishing third in the standings a year ago. The Panthers ended the season 14-11 overall and 12-6 in conference action. Hanover concluded the season with a 77-67 loss to Transylvania in the HCAC tournament opening round. The Panthers return one All-HCAC player from a year ago. Junior forward Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind. / Batesville) averaged a team-high 13.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season.
Manchester returns a pair of All-HCAC selections from last year's squad. Sophomore guard Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind. / Fall Creek) led the team in scoring and assists, averaging 18.2 points and 3.7 assists per contest. Johnson's efforts last season landed him the HCAC Freshman of the Year honor.
The opening games on the schedule are slated for November 15 with the first conference games scheduled for December 3.
2015-16 Men's Basketball Players to Watch
Anderson: Nathaniel Acree (Sr., G, 6-3, Lafayette, Ind. / McCutcheon), Brett Anderson (Sr., F, 6-3, Newark, Ill. / Newark), Stanley Duncan (So., G, 6-5, Evansville, Ind. / Harrison), Cole Hartman (So., F, 6-6, Auburn, Ind. / DeKalb), Trevor Lucas (Jr., G, 6-0, Brownsburg, Ind. / Brownsburg)
Bluffton: Austin Rohde (Sr., G,), Trey Elchert (Sr., G,), Adam Hopkins (Sr., F,)
Defiance: Michael Parker (Sr., G, 6-1, Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence North), Chris Holmes (Sr., G, 6-2, Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence North), Devin Mangas (Sr., G, 6-1, Leipsic, Ohio / Leipsic)
Earlham: Darrell Hutchison (So., F, 6-4, Indianapolis, Ind. / Crispus Attucks), Isaiah Waire (So., G, 6-0, Indianapolis, Ind. / Crispus Attucks), Aleksa Topalovic (So., G/F, 6-5, Belgrade, Serbia), Elijah Wilson-Thomas (Jr., G, 6-2, Goldsboro, N.C. / Massanutten Military Academy),
Franklin: Robbie Prather (Sr., G, 5-10, Franklin, Ind. / Roncalli), Aaron Mann (Sr., F, 6-3, Indianapolis, Ind. / Howe), Brett McCory (Sr., F, 6-4, Vallonia, Ind. / Brownstown Central), John Beineke (Sr., C, 6-7, Indianapolis, Ind. / Perry Meridian)
Hanover: Corey Muchmore (Sr., C, 6-6, Cincinnati, Ohio / Moeller), Wes McKinney (So., G, 6-4, Batesville, Ind./H.S.), Levi Buck (Jr., G, 6-2, (Pendleton, Ind. / Pendleton Heights), Cam Fails (So., G, 5-11, Cincinnati, Ohio / Kings)
Manchester: Adrian Johnson (So., G, 5-11, Indianapolis, Ind. / Fall Creek), Chase Casteel (Sr., G, 6-6, Monrovia, Ind. / Monrovia)
Mount St. Joseph: Andrew Finley (Jr., G, 5-9, Cincinnati, Ohio / Walnut Hills), Erik Edwards (Jr., F, 6-3, Cincinnati, Ohio / Roger Bacon), Jordan Henry (Jr., G, 5-11, Lexington, Ky. / Bryan Station), Tyler Manaugh (Jr., F, 6-8, Madison, Ind. / Madison)
Rose-Hulman: Wade Stallings (Sr., G, 5-5, Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central), Collin Wojcik (Sr., G, 6-4, Schererville, Ind. / Andrean), Stephen Schueth (Jr., G, 6-3, Indianapolis, Ind. / Chatard), Charlie Aimone (So, G, 6-6, Terre Haute, Ind. / North Vigo), Luke Callahan ( So., F, 6-7, (Danville, Ind. / Danville)
Transylvania: Alex Jones (Sr., G, 6-3, Louisville, Ky. / St. Xavier), Cooper Theobald (So., G, 6-1, Fort Mitchell, Ky. / Covington Catholic), Kyle Gullett (So., F, 6-6, Paintsville, Ky.)