The Wittenberg men’s basketball team did what it needed to do Saturday, beating Hiram 68-62 with what coach Bill Brown described as a “gritty performance” to finish tied for third in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
Everything else went wrong for the Tigers. DePauw upset Wooster 68-52, and Kenyon beat Allegheny 83-74. All three teams tied at 9-7, and the tiebreakers favored Kenyon and DePauw.
Wittenberg got the fifth seed in the NCAC tournament and will play fourth-seeded DePauw in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Greencastle, Ind. Both teams are 16-9 overall.
“It’s very unfortunate because the unbalanced schedule in the league in general is unfair,” Wittenberg coach Bill Brown said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Kenyon earned the third seed because it was 2-1 against Wittenberg and DePauw, with two wins over DePauw and a loss to Wittenberg. DePauw was 2-2 against both teams, with a sweep of Wittenberg. Wittenberg was 1-2 and didn’t get a chance to play at Kenyon, where a win would have given it the third seed.
This will be the first time Wittenberg has ever played a NCAC quarterfinal on the road. It tied for fourth with Kenyon in 2009, but it hosted the Lords in the first round. That was the last time it didn’t win its first-round game.
Wittenberg lost to Wooster in the NCAC championship game in 2010 and 2011. Last season, Denison upset the Tigers at Pam Evans Smith Arena in the semifinals.
Wittenberg has played well on the road this season, but DePauw may be the hottest team in the league. It won 70-62 at Wittenberg last week before handing Wooster, the NCAC regular-season champion, its worst loss of the season.
“They’re an extremely hot basketball team all of a sudden,” Brown said. “We saw it last week, and Wooster saw it even more up close. They’re just playing very aggressively. A couple of their players I haven’t seen play more aggressive than they are. When you have talent and depth and add aggressiveness, that’s a really good combination. We have to do a good job on (leading scorer) Barry Flynn. They have weapons in a lot of places. They can play a lot of ways.”