For the sixth consecutive season, Indiana University of Pennsylvania will be dancing into March Madness as the third seed in the Atlantic Region.
IUP, with a record of 23-4, is set to play sixth-seeded West Chester University in the first round Saturday. East Stroudsburg, as the top seed in the region, is the host for the region’s games.
The Crimson Hawks and the Golden Rams, which sport a 20-9 record, faced nine common opponents this season.
The Crimson Hawks were 11-4 in those games, while West Chester was 6-4.
A top-notch defense has propelled the Crimson Hawks to a fifth-consecutive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division title.
IUP allowed opponents to shoot under 40 percent from the field and a paltry 28.4 percent on 3-pointers, good for sixth and third in the country, respectively.
Giving up an average of 59.1 points per game, IUP is the PSAC’s best in scoring defense by more than a point.
Marcel Souberbielle (senior, communications media) and Mathis Keita (senior, communications media) have been the driving force of the Crimson Hawks, with each averaging almost identical numbers on the offensive end.
Souberbielle, who injured his groin late in the Crimson Hawks’ PSAC quarterfinal matchup with Mercyhurst University, averaged 15.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Keita chipped in 15.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, and also added 3.7 assists per game.
These two along with point guard Devante Chance (junior, communications media), whose 4.4 assists per game led the team and are also second in the PSAC, led a Crimson Hawks offense that averaged 71.3 points per game.
West Chester, which lost the PSAC Championship Sunday to East Stroudsburg, is looking to avenge last season’s 92-76 semifinal loss to IUP in the conference tournament semifinals. Troy Hockaday is the Golden Rams’ leader on offense with averages of 16.8 points and five assists per game.
The winner of Saturday’s game will meet the winner of the seventh-seed Glenville State College and second-seed West Liberty University.
West Liberty is a familiar foe to the Crimson Hawks. IUP was bounced from the tournament last year by West Liberty.
Gannon University is the fifth seed. Gannon, East Stroudsburg, IUP and West Chester make up four of the eight teams in the Atlantic Region from the PSAC.
All opening-round games are set for Saturday, while second- and third-round games will be played Sunday and Tuesday, March 18.