Viking Men Win First NCAA DII National Title in Program History
If you followed the Augustana men’s basketball team last season, odds are you knew 2015-16 wouldn’t disappoint.
Veteran starters Daniel Jansen, Casey Schilling and Alex Richter returned this year as seniors – stronger, tougher and even more determined to leave a defining legacy. Factor in returning guards Jordan Spencer and Adam Beyer; center Zach Huisken; true freshman John Warren; and sharpshooting senior Tanner Odegaard and well, the Vikings appeared unstoppable.
From their pre-season victory over the University of Iowa, to winning their first outright NSIC championship, their second straight NSIC/Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship, and their first-ever regional title, it’s safe to say the Augustana Vikings had their eyes on the record books throughout the season.
Along the way, they built an unbreakable bond. Far beyond their connection as Vikings, the men called their teammates family; breaking each huddle with a collective call of “brothers.” As one fan said, “their heart, spirit and determination will live in Augustana’s history forever.”
As will their NCAA Division II National Championship – a first in program history.
Forward to the Finals
After earning the No. 1 seed, the men won the NCAA Central Region Tournament on Tuesday, March 15, besting No. 2 seed Northwest Missouri State University 80-78.
After winning their first-ever regional title, the Vikings improved to 31-2 on the season, tying the program record for wins in a season which was previously set in 2014-15.
From regionals, the men made the trip to Frisco, Texas, for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight tournament, earning the tourney’s No. 2 seed.
After defeating No. 7 seed Tarleton State (Texas) 86-79, the Vikings advanced to the Final Four. There, they beat No. 3 seed Western Oregon 74-55.
Their final match-up was against No. 1 seed Lincoln Memorial (Tennessee) on Saturday, March 26. After a hard-fought battle, the Vikings earned the victory – and the National Championship – defeating the Railsplitters 90-81. They finished with a program record 34 wins and a 34-2 record on the season.
Highlights of the 2015-16 Season
- Daniel Jansen was named the 2016 National Association of Basketball Coaches' Division II Player of the Year. A 6’9”, 240-pound forward from Orange City, Iowa, Jansen is the first men's basketball player in Augustana history to be named National Player of the Year by the NABC. Jansen was the first at Augustana to score more than 2,000 career points and is the University’s all-time leading scorer with 2,217 points. He also ranks fifth all-time with 845 rebounds in his career. Jansen has been named to seven All-America teams in his career and has been named the NSIC and Central Region Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
- Jansen and Casey Schilling were both named to the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association All-America Team. Augustana is the only school in the country with more than one player on the D2CCA All-America Team.
- Schilling, a 6’6”, 215-pound forward from Ellsworth, Minnesota, scored 2,000 points in his career. He is one of just three players in program history with 900-plus rebounds and has the second most rebounds of all active players in Division II. Schilling has been named All-NSIC First Team in three straight seasons and was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the NSIC's coaches for the second straight season in 2015-16.
- Augustana Head Coach Tom Billeter was named Coach of the Year by both the NSIC and Basketball Times.