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