Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Denison open NCAA Division III tournament play on Friday night. In addition, men’s teams from three AICUO members will host first- and second-round games on their campuses.
In men’s play, six teams total from AICUO members will participate, with Ohio Wesleyan, John Carroll, and Marietta hosting the first two rounds.
Ohio Wesleyan, regular season co-champion of the North Coast Athletic Conference, faces Pitt-Greensburg (Pa.), the Allegheny Mountain Conference tournament champion, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The winner will play the winner of the 5:30 game between Lynchburg (Va.) and Scranton (Pa.).
At John Carroll, the tournament champion of the Ohio Athletic Conference, AICUO member Denison, which won the North Coast conference tournament, plays Alma (Mich.) at 5 p.m., followed by the host facing St. Vincent (Pa.) at 8 p.m. Winners battle in a second round game Saturday night.
Marietta was regular-season champion of the Ohio Athletic Conference, and it will host a first-round game against Gwynedd Mercy (Pa.), regular season and tournament champion of the Colonial States Athletic Conference. The 7 p.m. game will be preceded by a opening round matchup between Oswego State (N.Y.) and Delaware Valley. Again, winners play Saturday night to reach the round of 16.
Two other AICUO members go some distance for their first-round games. Mount St. Joseph, tournament champion of the Heartland Conference, will take on Hope (Mich.) Friday at 5:30 p.m. CST at the Augustana campus in Rock Island, Ill., a 415 mile trip. The winner will face the winner of the host team vs. Westminster (Mo.) game that follows.
Wooster, despite earning its Division III record 14th consecutive tournament bid, plays at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Catholic University campus in Washington, D.C., against Lancaster Bible College (Pa.), one of the two unbeaten teams in the tournament. Second-round opponent for the victor will be the winner in the following game between Catholic and Endicott (Pa.).
Stepchildren to the NCAA again, none of the four AICUO women’s teams in the tournament was assigned home games in the first two rounds: the average road trip for the squads is 325 miles, or a bus ride of more than five hours. Meanwhile, the fair-haired Hope and Washington (Mo.) teams once again were handed home-court advantage for the early rounds.
The long-distance travel award goes to the Bluffton women, regular-season and tournament champions of the Heartland Conference, who must travel 439 miles to St. Louis and Washington’s gym to play Wisconsin-Whitewater, one of four at-large teams from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Conference, at 6:30 p.m. EST. The second-round opponent will be the Washington-Greenville (Ill.) winner.
Also forced to play on a potential opponent’s home floor are Denison, regular season champion of the North Coast Conference, and Ohio Northern, regular season champion of the Ohio Athletic Conference; they travel 360 and 249 miles respectively to Holland, Mich., to face each other in a first-round matchup Friday at 5:30 p.m. on Hope’s home floor. The winner plays the Hope-Carnegie Mellon winner on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mount Union, tournament champion of the Ohio Athletic Conference, travels 263 miles across the state to Thomas More’s campus in the Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati. There it will face Guilford (N.C.), an at-large seed from the Old Dominion Conference and another long-distance traveler, at 5 p.m. Friday. In the next round, the winner will face the Thomas More-Laroche (Pa.) winner.