Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
BELTON- Based on the recently-released schedule from Nebraska Wesleyan (NWU), the UMHB men’s basketball team’s Cru Classic is indeed returning to the Mayborn Campus Center this season, after a two-year hiatus.
It will be the first time the holiday classic has been contested since the arrival of head coach Clif Carroll in May of 2020. Last season, UMHB went 2-0 at the D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 29-30, just before the beginning of ASC play.
UMHB is joined in the event by ASC foe Sul Ross State, and NWU, of the American Rivers Conference. Whether a fourth team is part of the field or not will be announced at a later date.
According to the NWU schedule, the Prairie Wolves open the weekend with a Dec. 30 duel against SRSU at 1 p.m. CT. A contest against UMHB is set to follow on Dec. 31, also at 1 p.m. CT. It is the first game of UMHB’s 2022-2023 schedule that has been made public, as D-III programs across the country have begun releasing their slates for the upcoming year.
The matchup between the Crusaders and Prairie Wolves will be the first meeting of the programs, but not the first time NWU has battled an ASC opponent. In fact, in its lengthy history as a program, NWU has faced six of the 10 member institutions in the conference. In 2019-20, they played McMurry and Hardin-Simmons, and just last season, defeated both Howard Payne and ETBU on their home court. The Prairie Wolves ended the 2021-22 campaign with a 14-12 record, going 8-8 in ARC play. NWU is led by Dale Wellman, who is entering his ninth year as head coach.
UMHB enters the 2022-2023 season following a historic run in the NCAA Tournament. The Cru reached the Elite Eight, and were 28-3 overall in Carroll’s second year as head coach. It was the first time since 2013 that UMHB reached the national tournament.