GREENWOOD, Ind. --- Hanover College has been voted as the frontrunner in the 2017-18 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship race. The Panthers received nine first place votes in the coaches' preseason poll. Hanover garnered 99 points overall in the poll. Mount St. Joseph University received 88 points and the final first place vote to follow behind Hanover.
Transylvania University has been forecasted as the third place team by receiving 73 points in the poll. Rose-Hulman's 68 points placed the Fightin' Engineers fourth and were followed by Anderson University (67 pts) in fifth position. Manchester University (43), Defiance College (33), Franklin College (28), Bluffton University (27), and Earlham College (24) round out the poll.
Hanover will be looking to capture its second-straight HCAC title this winter. The Panthers posted a 26-4 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the HCAC. Hanover defeated Mount St. Joseph in the conference tournament championship, 58-51. The Panthers made an NCAA Tournament run all the way to the Elite Eight where they played Augustana (Ill.) and were defeated, 77-64, ending its season.
The Panthers return a pair of All-HCAC players from last year's team. Senior forward and reigning Player of the Year Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind. / Batesville) averaged 18.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio / Kings) averaged 14.6 points and 2.4 assists per contest as a sophomore to earn all-conference honors.
Mount St. Joseph will look to challenge Hanover in the race to the top of the conference standings this winter after finishing second in the standings a year ago. The Lions finished 20-7 (14-4 HCAC) last season and return one All-HCAC player from last year's team. Senior guard Andrew Finley (Cincinnati, Ohio / Walnut Hills) averaged 16.3 points per game last year as a junior, along with 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Lions. The Mount also returns Freshman of the Year selection Adam Goetz (Erlanger, Ky. / St. Henry). The sophomore averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season.
Transylvania strives to make a run at the title this winter after finishing fifth in the standings a year ago. The Pioneers ended the season 17-10 overall and 11-7 in conference action. Transylvania concluded the season with a 78-76 loss to Hanover in the HCAC tournament semifinal round. The Pioneers return one All-HCAC player from a year ago. Junior guard Cooper Theobald (Fort Mitchell, Ky. / Covington Catholic) averaged 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season.
The opening games on the schedule are slated for November 15 with the first conference games scheduled for December 2.
2017-18 Men's Basketball Players to Watch
Anderson: Stanley Duncan (Jr., G, 6-5, Evansville, Ind. / Harrison), Cole Hartman (Jr., F, 6-6, Auburn, Ind. / DeKalb), Trevor Lucas (Sr., G, 6-0, Brownsburg, Ind. / Brownsburg)
Bluffton: Kevin Christie (Sr., G, 6-0, Middletown, Ohio / Bishop Fenwick), Andrew Hunter (Sr., G, 6-0, Arlington, Ohio / Arlington), Jared Wentling (Jr., F, 6-4, Carey, Ohio / Carey)
Earlham: Darrell Hutchison (Jr., F, 6-4, Indianapolis, Ind. / Crispus Attucks), Elijah Wilson-Thomas (Sr., G, 6-2, Goldsboro, N.C. / Massanutten Military Academy), Blake Bonin (So., G, 5-8, Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point)
Franklin: John Beineke (Sr., C, 6-7, Indianapolis, Ind. / Perry Meridian), Sam Gutierrez (Fr., G, 6-3, Tipton, Ind. / Tipton), Kale Morris (So., G, 6-3, Frankfort, Ind. / Clinton Prairie), Ismail Jones (Fr., G, 6-1, Buckner, Ky. / Oldham County)
Hanover: Wes McKinney (Sr., F, 6-4, Batesville, Ind./H.S.), Levi Buck (Sr., G, 6-2, (Pendleton, Ind. / Pendleton Heights), Cam Fails (Jr., G, 5-11, Cincinnati, Ohio / Kings), Colin Smith (Sr., F, 6-4, Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier), Logan Ratts (So., G, 5-11, Martinsville, Ind. / Martinsville)
Manchester: Adrian Johnson (Jr., G, 5-11, Indianapolis, Ind. / Fall Creek), Kenny Doss (Sr., G, 6-2, Chicago, Ill. / Thornton North)
Mount St. Joseph: Andrew Finley (Sr., G, 5-9, Cincinnati, Ohio / Walnut Hills), Erik Edwards (Sr., F, 6-3, Cincinnati, Ohio / Roger Bacon), Jordan Henry (Sr., G, 5-11, Lexington, Ky. / Bryan Station), Adam Goetz (So., G, 6-1, Erlanger, Ky. / St. Henry), Jake Cropper (Jr., G, 6-2, Georgetown, Ohio / Georgetown)
Rose-Hulman: Stephen Schueth (Sr., G, 6-3, Indianapolis, Ind. / Chatard), Charlie Aimone (Jr., G, 6-6, Terre Haute, Ind. / North Vigo), Luke Callahan ( Jr., F, 6-7, (Danville, Ind. / Danville), Nick McGrail (Jr., F, 6-4, Springsboro, Ohio / Springsboro), Ryuji Aoki (So., G, 6-0, Long Grove, Ill. / Adlai Stevenson), Jon Czarnecki (So., F, 6-6, Bettendorf, Iowa / Pleasant Valley)
Transylvania: Cooper Theobald (Jr., G, 6-1, Fort Mitchell, Ky. / Covington Catholic), Kyle Gullett (Jr., F, 6-6, Paintsville, Ky.), Gabe Schmitt (So., G, 6-2, Louisville, Ky. / Trinity)