Monday, March 30, 2009

OT Buzzer-beater Earns Findlay NCAA Basketball Title, Unbeaten Season

Senior Tyler Evans sank a three-point basket at the end of overtime to secure a 56-53 victory for Findlay against Cal Poly-Pomona in the NCAA Division II basketball championship game, Saturday at Springfield, Mass.

It was Evans’s only field goal of the game, and it completed not only a championship but an undefeated season. The Oilers are the fourth team to go unbeaten in Division II since the NCAA tournament for that level began in 1957.

The title marked the second NCAA team sports championship won by an AICUO member institution this season. Mount Union’s football team won its Division III title in December.

This is the first NCAA basketball championship won by an AICUO member since 2004, when Wilmington’s women’s team took the Division III title, and the first unbeaten season crowned by a championship since the 1994-95 Capital women won all their games, including playoffs, also in Division III.

Non-NCAA Championships
As noted recently, the Mount Vernon Nazarene women won this year’s National Christian College Athletic Association basketball championship. AICUO’s other most recent national basketball title came in 2005, when Walsh’s men’s team won the NAIA Division II championship.

-- Bob Burke

Monday, March 16, 2009

MVNU women take NCCAA hoops title

In a game played Saturday at Winona Lake, Ind., Mount Vernon Nazarene’s women’s team rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to defeat Palm Beach Atlantic (Fla.), 50-48, to win the basketball championship of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

--Bob Burke

Tough weekend for other AICUO members in small-college tournaments

After this weekend’s play, no one from our association remains in the NCAA Division III or NAIA Division II tournaments – indeed, not one even won a game.

At the NAIA tournaments, each of the five AICUO participants ended an otherwise good season with a long ride home after playing a single game.

In the women’s tourney, it was a quick one-and-done for Ohio Dominican at the hands of Dickinson State, 77-44; and for Cedarville, losers to Bethel (Ind.), 67-63.

Walsh, seeded fourth, was victim of an upset in the first round of the men’s tourney by Ottawa, 91-83. Cedarville narrowly lost to Sioux Falls (S.D.), 66-63, while Mount Vernon Nazarene fell to Bellevue (Neb.), 84-75.

Friday the 13th was bad luck for John Carroll and Capital in the NCAA men’s tournament: both lost in Cleveland on the first night of sectional play, which they reached after winning twice on the tournament’s first weekend. Despite hosting the sectional round, John Carroll lost 78-73 to Guilford (N.C.), while Capital fell 71-63 to Texas-Dallas.

- Bob Burke

UPDATED: Unbeaten Findlay reaches men’s Division II "Elite 8" championship weekend

Update: It took overtime but Findlay prevailed against Bellarmine, 89-86, and heads to Springfield for the eight-team championship round.

Findlay, men’s basketball champion of the Great Lakes conference, hasn’t lost yet this season – including two games this weekend in the NCAA Division II men’s basketball tournament. After wins over Grand Valley State (Mich.), 66-51, and Southern Indiana, 81-59, the Oilers play Bellarmine (N.Y.) Tuesday night at Findlay’s Croy Gymnasium for a spot in the NCAA’s championship round – the “elite eight” – in Springfield, Mass., starting March 25. The NCAA reports that the game is sold out.

- Bob Burke

Dayton to host play-in, first and second rounds of NCAA men’s tournament

Tickets remain available for the “opening round” – the NCAA’s euphemism for the play-in game where the two lowest ranked conference champions compete to enter the 64-team field – at the University of Dayton arena Tuesday night. Morehead State of the Ohio Valley Conference plays Alabama State of the Southwest Athletic Conference; the winner gets to play Louisville, the tournament’s top-seeded team. The UD arena also hosts first- and second-round action on Friday and Sunday, but those games are already sold out.

- Bob Burke

Both Division I AICUO members qualify for NCAA men’s basketball tournament

There are just two AICUO members who participate in NCAA Division I athletics, and both – the University of Dayton and Xavier University – earned spots in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament that starts this weekend. They were two of the four at-large participants nationally who were neither conference champions nor members of football Bowl Championship Series conferences.

Compared to Ohio State — whose first-round site, the University of Dayton arena, must have been chosen by the governor himself — Ohio’s two independents faced disparate treatment from the NCAA. Dayton must travel 700 miles to Minneapolis for its first-round game against West Virginia, while Xavier, seeded five spots higher than the Buckeyes, plays its East regional game against Portland State (Ore.) at Boise, Idaho – more than 1,900 miles from home.

- Bob Burke

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Independent College Presidents and Student Testify in Columbus

The House Finance and Appropriations Committee has split off into subcommittees to discuss the 3,000+ page operating budget. AICUO staff has been whiling away the hours on narrow wooden chairs listening to other interested parties in the higher education subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ted Celeste (D - Grandview Heights). Wednesday, we presented our side of the story and advocate for fair representation of our campuses in the budget bill (HB 1).

University of Dayton senior Molly Dineen, Hiram College President Thomas Chema, and Capital University President, Denvy Bowman all gave testimony before the five-member subcommittee that includes Rep. Ted Celeste (chairman), Ranking Minority Member - Rep. Randy Gardner (R - Bowling Green), Rep. Kathleen Chandler (D - Kent), Rep. Lorraine Fende (D - Willowick) and Rep. Clyde Evans (R - Rio Grande). Their testimonies were succinct and personalized. All gave their views of how the budget, as drafted, would affect their respective institution's students and the independent college sector as a whole. They advocated for more funds within the proposed block grant formula (to ensure that the program will provide the flexibility that the chancellor expects), as well as fair and equal inclusion in three educational programs within the budget: Choose Ohio First, Teach Ohio, and the Co-op & Internship program.

Each witness was accepted graciously by the committee members and all received accolades post-hearing on their unified and articulated message. For a copy of each witness's testimony, please check out the Legislators Section on our website.

Buzzer beaters send John Carroll, Capital to NCAA Men's Division III Sectional in Cleveland

Game winning shots in the last second by John Carroll's Chris Zajak and Capital's D.J. Frazier brought the two Ohio Athletic Conference rivals (and AICUO members) into the round of 16 for the NCAA men's Division III basketball tournament.

Frazier's basket ended the tournament hopes of the third AICUO member team in the men's tournament, the College of Wooster, while Zajak's knocked Carnegie Mellon from the tourney.

Friday night, Capital plays the University of Texas at Dallas, followed by John Carroll's game against Guilford. Here is the web page for this weekend's games, to be played at John Carroll's DeCarlo Varsity Center, including links for video and audio of the games, information on possible available tickets, and stats and other info on the four competing teams:

NCAA Sectionals at John Carroll

Women's Division III basketball teams all eliminated

None of the three AICUO members in the Division III women's tournament remains after this past weekend's play. Baldwin-Wallace was the only team to win a game, a first-round victory over the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. B-W then lost to the host team, Hope College, in the second round.

Losing to the host team was common to the other AICUO participants in the women's tournament. Capital was defeated by Washington (Mo.), while Ohio Wesleyan lost to Illinois Wesleyan.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Long-distance Travel Award Goes To NAIA Basketball Tournament Qualifiers

UPDATE: Pairings for the first round of the NAIA tournaments (all times CDT):

Wed., Mar. 11, 3:30 p.m.: Cedarville vs. Bethel (Ind.).
Thu., Mar. 12, 12 noon: Ohio Dominican vs. Dickinson St. (N.D.)

Wed., Mar. 11, 4 p.m.: Mt. Vernon Nazarene vs. Bellevue (Neb.); 5:45 p.m.: Cedarville vs. Sioux Falls (S.D.)
Thu., Mar. 12, 12 noon: Walsh vs. Ottawa (Kan.)

Five Ohio independent college basketball teams have been invited to the postseason tournament of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics, the NCAA’s principal rival.

In the 32-team field for the men’s Division II tournament are Walsh, the tournament champion for the America Mideast Conference; Cedarville, the regular season champ; and Mount Vernon Nazarene, an at-large selection. Among the 32 teams qualifying for the women’s tournament are Ohio Dominican, tournament champion of the America Mideast Conference, and Cedarville, the runner-up.

Unlike the NCAA tournaments, each NAIA basketball tourney takes place at a single site from March 11-17, and the distance from home for all AICUO’s teams far outstrips what the first-round NCAA teams must traverse. The women’s tournament is in Sioux City, Iowa, forcing Cedarville to travel 809 miles and Ohio Dominican 847 miles – much farther than Capital’s 425-mile journey to St. Louis for its NCAA women’s first-round game.

For the men the distance is not quite as far, as the tourney is at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. Walsh still needs to travel 800 miles, Mount Vernon Nazarene 720 miles, and Cedarville 636 miles.

Pairings, ticket information and broadcast availability are on the NAIA tournament web sites, one each for the men and women.

-- Bob Burke

Monday, March 2, 2009

John Carroll, Capital To Host Opening Weekend Games in NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament

All women’s tourney participants to travel for early-round games

On Monday we learned of the first set of postseason basketball tournaments, those for NCAA Division III.

Among AICUO members, the tournament champions in both men’s and women’s received automatic bids to their respective postseason tourneys; and the second-place teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference received at-large bids. Thus, three Ohio independents will be participating in men’s and women’s post-season play.

Men’s Tournament
The Ohio Athletic Conference’s two representatives, champion John Carroll and runner-up Capital, will host opening-weekend play on their campuses with Friday night doubleheaders and Saturday night games between Friday’s winners.

At John Carroll, the Blue Streaks will play Medaille (N.Y.), champion of the Allegeheny Mountain Athletic Conference, preceded by the matchup between Brockport State (N.Y.) and Carnegie-Mellon (Pa.).

At Capital, two AICUO members compete separately Friday night. Wooster, champion of the North Coast Athletic Conference, plays Gettysburg (Pa.), winner of the Centennial Conference tournament; then Capital, an at-large selection after finishing second in both the OAC regular season and tournament, plays Thomas More (Ky.), champion of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

Women’s tournament
None of the AICUO member institutions in the women’s tourney plays at home this weekend.

Among the three long-distance travelers, the winner (or loser, if you will) is Capital, which won the regular-season and tournament crowns in the Ohio Athletic Conference yet must travel 425 miles to Washington-St. Louis (Mo.), and play the host team, champion of the University Athletic Association, in the first round game. On Saturday, the winner of this game between traditional women’s basketball powers plays the winner of the earlier Transylvania (Pa.)-Howard Paine (Texas) game – two teams traveling from even farther than Capital.

Ohio Wesleyan, winner of the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament, doesn’t fare much better on the travel side, with a 350-mile trip to face Illinois Wesleyan, undefeated champion of the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, on its home floor. The other game on Friday is between DePauw (Ind.) and Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Baldwin-Wallace, second-place finisher in the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament, gets the shortest trip, still about 325 miles, to Holland, Mich. The Yellow Jackets face the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (Pa.) on Friday night; the winner takes on the winner of the Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) against the host team, Hope (Mich.). The Yellow Jackets start their tournament play where everyone wants to finish, as in two weeks Hope is also the host school for the final four.

Other tournaments

We expect to hear from the other major small-college tournament, the NAIA, later this week, as two conference tournaments remain to be settled on Tuesday. The championship game of the men's American Mideast Conference between two AICUO members, Mount Vernon Nazarene and Walsh, takes place in North Canton, with the women's title game between Mount Vernon Nazarene and Ohio Dominican in Columbus.

NCAA Division I and II teams will not be announced until the end of next week.

-- Bob Burke