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Titans To Vie For First NCAA Postseason Sectional Title

Titans To Vie For First NCAA Postseason Sectional Title

The UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team is back in the third round of the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time since reaching the national quarterfinals in 2003.

The Titans, making their third consecutive and eighth overall trip to the NCAA postseason, plays first-time opponent Emory University (Ga.) on Friday (March 9) in Rock Island, Ill.

Tip-off between 24th-ranked UW-Oshkosh and sixth-ranked Emory University is set for 5:30 p.m. in Augustana College's Roy J. Carver Center For Physical Education. 

UW-Oshkosh (22-7) earned an at-large bid to the 64-team Division III Championship after finishing third in the WIAC standings with a 9-5 record and advancing to the semifinal round of the league tournament. 

The Titans secured the Springfield (Ohio) Regional title with victories of 74-67 over Marietta College (Ohio) (21-7) in the opening round on March 2 and 68-60 in the second round at third-ranked and regional host Wittenberg University (Ohio) (26-3) on March 3. With the loss, Wittenberg University fell to 16-1 in home games this season.

Emory University (23-4), which also received one of the 21 at-large bids to the national tournament, placed second in the University Athletic Association (UAA) standings with a 12-2 record. The UAA, comprised of eight institutions from seven different states, does not conduct a postseason tournament.

The Eagles advanced through the opening weekend with home victories of 91-72 over Berry College (Ga.) in the first round and 83-82 over LeTourneau University (Texas) (24-5) during the second.

The other third round matchup in Rock Island on Friday features ninth-ranked Augustana College (24-5) hosting 20th-ranked John Carroll University (Ohio) (25-5) at 7:30 p.m.

Friday's winners will meet Saturday (March 10) at 7 p.m. for the right to advance to the national semifinals that will be held March 16 in Salem, Va.

UW-Oshkosh made previous trips to the Division III Championship in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2016 and 2017. The Titans, who reached the national quarterfinals in 2003, have a 9-7 record in the NCAA postseason.

Emory University has a 12-7 record in seven NCAA postseason appearances. The Eagles, who have played in the Division III Championship each of the past six years, advanced to the national quarterfinals in 2014.

UW-Oshkosh enters the sectional round of the national tournament ranked sixth in the country with a +8.7 average rebounding margin. The Titans are scoring 74.3 points per contest while allowing 66.0, which lists 22nd nationally.

UW-Oshkosh junior guard Ben Boots is averaging a team-high 15.4 points, 4.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game with a team-best .864 free throw percentage. He led the Titans with 33 total points, 13 assists and four steals during their two regional wins. Boots currently ranks 25th in UW-Oshkosh history with 1,109 career points.

Sophomore center Jack Flynn, who leads the WIAC with a .634 field goal percentage, averages 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest for the Titans.

UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert, a sophomore forward, is adding 12.5 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game while collecting a WIAC-leading 35 blocks. He tallied his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds in UW-Oshkosh's opening-round victory over Marietta College.

Titan guards Brett Wittchow and Charlie Noone are chipping in 10.4 and 9.4 points per contest, respectively. Wittchow, a junior, is shooting 48.3 percent (42-87) from 3-point range while Noone, a senior, has 66 3-pointers this season and ranks second in program history with 236 during his career. Noone also ranks 28th UW-Oshkosh history with 1,073 career points.

Key reserves for UW-Oshkosh include junior guard Kyle Beyak, freshman forward Connor Duax, freshman guard Sam Ebersold and sophomore guard David Vlotho. Duax contributes 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest while Ebersold and Vlotho have made 15 3-pointers apiece. 

Emory University, which features seven players averaging better than six points per contest, scores 82.5 points and allows an average of 74.4.

The Eagles, who rank 14th in the country with a .769 free throw percentage, have been held to less than 71 points on just three occasions this season – all in an eight-day stretch from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4.

Reserve freshman guard Romin Williams paces the Eagles at 15.5 points per game. He had 36 points during the regional rounds, including a game-high 25 in Emory University's opening win over Berry College.

Adam Gigax is adding 14.1 points per game for Emory University while Christopher Avant is scoring 12.0, Gebereal Baitey 11.0, Matt Davet 8.4, Beau Bommarito 7.4 and Whit Rapp 6.9.

Gigax has connected on a team-high 70 3-pointers on the way to leading the Eagles in scoring 10 times this season. Avant, averaging a squad-high 7.1 rebounds per contest, tallied a team-leading 22 points and nine boards in the win over LeTourneau University.

Rapp ranks third in the nation with 7.4 assists per game and lists fourth in the country with a 4.11 assist-to-turnover ratio. He racked up 21 assists in the team's two wins last weekend.

Augustana College, which played in the national championship game a year ago, earned an automatic berth to this year's tournament after tying for first in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin regular-season standings and claiming the league tournament title.

The Vikings, seeking their seventh trip to the national semifinals, own a 41-17 record in 18 NCAA postseason trips. Augustana College, which owns a 14-2 record at home this season, has won 61 of its past 70 games in the Roy. J. Carver Center For Physical Education.

John Carroll University clinched an automatic berth to the Division III Championship after tying for first in the Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season standings and sweeping through the league tournament.

The Blue Streaks have a 23-16 national tournament record, including a third-place finish at the 2004 championship.

UW-Oshkosh was eliminated in the first round of the Division III Championship the past two years. The Titans suffered an 87-85 setback at Hope College (Mich.) in last year's national tournament and a 73-63 loss to Elmhurst College (Ill.) in 2016.

UW-Oshkosh previously reached the 1968 Final Four in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, finishing third in Kansas City, Mo.

NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship - Rock Island Sectional Website

NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship • NCAA.com Website

NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Interactive Bracket