OWU to face Benedictine in NCAA sectional


Staff Report

The Ohio Wesleyan University men’s basketball team will compete in a sectional semifinal of the NCAA Division III tournament, it was announced by the NCAA on Sunday.

Ohio Wesleyan will face Benedictine (Ill.) in a sectional semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on Friday at the Dan and Ada Rice Center on the Benedictine campus in Lisle, Ill. Friday’s other sectional semifinal matches Alma (Mich.) against St. Norbert (Wis.) at 5 p.m. (Central Standard Time). The winners of Friday night’s games will square off in a national quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on Saturday.

Ohio Wesleyan (25-4) was an at-large selection to the NCAA Division III tournament. The Battling Bishops advanced to the final 16 teams by defeating Pitt-Greensburg, 114-68, on Friday and Lynchburg (Va.), 97-94, on Saturday. Ohio Wesleyan shared the North Coast Athletic Conference championship with a 15-3 record, the Bishops’ second consecutive NCAC title. Ohio Wesleyan advanced to the semifinals of the NCAC tournament, falling to Denison by a score of 95-85. Ohio Wesleyan was ranked No. 10 in the final regular-season D3hoops.com poll. Ohio Wesleyan is making its fifth consecutive Division III playoff appearance, one of only 6 teams in the tournament for the fifth straight year. This is Ohio Wesleyan’s seventh overall NCAA Division III appearance. The Battling Bishops won the NCAA Division III national championship in 1988.

Benedictine (28-0) won the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference tournament, defeating Milwaukee School of Engineering by an 83-57 count in the championship game. Benedictine went 20-0 in the NACC during the regular season. The Eagles received a first-round bye in the NCAA Division III tournament and advanced to the third round with an 85-64 win over Hardin-Simmons (Texas) on Saturday. Benedictine was ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season D3hoops.com poll. The Eagles were one of 2 teams to enter the NCAA Division III undefeated, the first teams to do so since 2009. Benedictine is making its first NCAA Division III appearance since 2011 and its seventh overall appearance. Ohio Wesleyan and Benedictine have meet once on the hardwood, with Benedictine winning, 97-91, in overtime during the 2000-01 season.

Alma (23-6) won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament with a 62-54 win over Trine in the championship game. The Fighting Scots were 12-2 in the MIAA during the regular season, finishing in second place in the conference standings. Alma advanced to the third round with a 74-60 win over Denison on Friday and a 90-83 decision over John Carroll on Saturday. Alma was ranked No. 13 in the final regular-season D3hoops.com poll. Alma is making its first-ever NCAA Division III playoff appearance. Ohio Wesleyan and Alma met earlier this season, with the Battling Bishops defeating the Fighting Scots by a 96-77 score on Nov. 20 at Ohio Wesleyan’s Branch Rickey Arena. Ohio Wesleyan leads the all-time series, 4-0.

St. Norbert (25-2) won the Midwest Conference tournament, defeating Carroll, 71-69, in the championship game. The Green Knights won the MWC championship with an 18-0 record during regular-season play. St. Norbert advanced to the third round with a 77-58 win over Northwestern (Minn.) and a 63-61 verdict over St. Olaf (Minn.). The Green Knights were ranked No. 7 in the final regular-season D3hoops.com poll. St. Norbert is making its fourth consecutive NCAA Division III playoff appearance and its eighth overall appearance. Ohio Wesleyan and St. Norbert met in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament in 2014, with the Green Knights winning by an 87-79 score.

The winner of Saturday’s national quarterfinal game will advance to the national semifinals, to be played on March 18 in Salem, Va.

OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.

Nate Axelrod (3) and the Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team will face Benedictine in a sectional final after picking up a pair of NCAA Division III tournament wins over the weekend. The game is set to tip at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Friday night.

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