The Williams College basketball teams have received spots in their respective NCAA Division III Tournaments. To reach the title game, the teams will take divergent paths.
The Williams men will open their Road to Salem, Va., at home on Friday when the Ephs host Mitchell College in the second game of a doubleheader in Chandler Gym. The opener features Gordon College and Babson, with the winners playing Saturday. Friday’s games are at 6 and 8 p.m., with the Saturday game set for 7 p.m.
The women will get on a bus for Scranton, Pa., and a pod hosted by the University of Scranton. The women’s road will end in Stevens Point, Wisc., the site of this year’s Final Four.
Williams will play Vassar in the first game on Friday night, while Scranton will host MASCAC champion Bridgewater State. There has been no announcement from Scranton as to game times at press time.
The Williams men earned an at-large bid to the 62-team tournament after losing 93-82 at Amherst in Sunday’s NESCAC championship game. It was a disappointing end of the day for the Ephs, but something they can’t dwell on.
"We’ve got to forget about this," Williams forward Taylor Epley said after the game. "We can’t let it get to us. We can’t hang our heads. We have to keep fighting. This team can go a long way."
For the Williams men, it’s another chance to play some basketball on a homecourt where they have been very successful in March. Since head coach Mike Maker has taken over at Williams, the Ephs are 10-0 in NCAA tournament games played at Chandler.
"That’s always a big plus. Last year, we were able to do that. We were a 2-seed and we got to host until Salem," said Epley. "That’s an amazing opportunity. We’re going to relish it."
Williams is one of three NESCAC men’s teams to make the 62-team field. Amherst is the top seed on the Williams side of the bracket and gets a first-round bye. The Lord Jeffs will host the winner of Thursday’s game between York (Pa.) and Rhode Island College. Bowdoin is the third team in the field, and the Polar Bears will play Richard Stockton in a pod at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa.
The way the NCAA seeding committee has set up the brackets, Williams and Amherst would not play each other until the national semifinal round on March 21.
Williams could run into Springfield College earlier. The Pride, led by former Hoosac Valley standout Robbie Burke, earned an at-large bid and will travel to play Mary Washington at Randolph Macon in Ashland, Va.
The Williams women, meanwhile, are one of four NESCAC teams playing in the NCAA Tournament. Tufts beat Amherst to claim automatic berth, while Amherst and Bowdoin join Williams as at-large teams.
Tufts and Bowdoin will host first and second-round games. Tufts will play St. Joseph’s (Maine) on Friday and the winner will play the winner of the game between the University of New England and New York University. In Maine, the Polar Bears will host Castleton State and the winner of that game plays the winner of the Plattsburgh State-Roger Williams game.
Amherst heads to Oneonta, N.Y., for a first-round date with Springfield College. Former Drury standout Danielle Racette is a reserve guard for the Pride, averaging 3.2 points per game in 15.4 minutes.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the Baruch-Hartwick game on Saturday.
If they advance, Williams and Bowdoin could play in a regional semifinal on March 14. A potential Williams-Amherst rematch wouldn’t take place until the regional final on March 15.