The UW-Oshkosh men's basketball team begins its second straight and 13th overall WIAC Tournament appearance with a first-round game at UW-Platteville on Tuesday (Feb. 24). Tipoff between the fifth-seeded Titans and fourth-seeded Pioneers is set for 7 p.m. on Bo Ryan Court.
Tuesday's other first-round matchup features third seed UW-River Falls (12-12) hosting sixth seed UW-Eau Claire (10-15).
Winners of the first-round contests will travel to either top seed UW-Whitewater (22-3) or second seed UW-Stevens Point (21-4) on Thursday at 7 p.m. UW-Whitewater won a coin flip for the top seed after sharing the regular season title with UW-Stevens Point. The Warhawks will host the lowest remaining seed.
The championship game of the WIAC Tournament will be held at the highest remaining seed on Saturday (Feb. 28). The winner of the league tournament earns the WIAC's automatic bid to the 62-team NCAA Division III Championship that begins on March 5.
The Titans are seeking their first WIAC Tournament road win since a 52-49 decision over UW-Whitewater in 2004. UW-Oshkosh has lost its last four tournament games away from Kolf Sports Center, including a 76-61 setback at UW-La Crosse last season as the sixth seed.
Last year, UW-Oshkosh's tournament appearance snapped a four-year drought. The Titans last won a WIAC Tournament game in 2009, a 75-60 home victory over UW-Eau Claire. UW-Oshkosh, playing as the fifth seed for the first time, owns a 5-7 road record in the conference tournament.
UW-Oshkosh (14-11) has defeated UW-Platteville (16-9) in both previous WIAC Tournament meetings. The Titans ousted the Pioneers, 94-68, at home during the 2001 semifinals and 67-66 during the 2000 quarterfinals in Platteville.
This year's matchup features two of the top three scoring defenses in the conference. UW-Oshkosh ranks second by allowing an average of 62.2 points per game while UW-Platteville lists third at 62.9.
The Pioneers swept two regular season meetings, edging the Titans, 52-47, on Dec. 10 in Platteville and 49-46 on Feb. 4 in Oshkosh. UW-Platteville has won 16 of the last 18 games in the series. UW-Oshkosh last won in Platteville (67-51) on Feb. 17, 2007.
Alex Olson leads UW-Oshkosh and ranks second in the conference with 15.7 points and 2.16 steals per game. He has scored in double figures in all but four games this season, including a season-best 30 points against UW-Stout on Jan. 31. Olson is second on the team with 102 rebounds, 42 3-pointers and 59 assists.
AJ Mueller adds 9.5 points and a team-high five rebounds per contest for the Titans, who have won two of their last three games. Max Schebel chips in with 7.1 points and 3.6 boards a game. Rounding out the UW-Oshkosh starting lineup are Kyle Bolger and Taylor Jansen, who average 6.7 and 5.9 points, respectively.
Sean Dwyer, whose 51 3-pointers lead the team and rank fourth in the conference, has contributed seven points per game off the UW-Oshkosh bench.
UW-Platteville has lost three of its last four games and two of its last three at home, but the Pioneers have won 31 of their last 41 contests on Bo Ryan Court.
Jake Manning leads the Pioneers with 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. His .573 field goal percentage ranks fourth in the conference.
UW-Platteville also receives 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game from Jim Stocki, 10.1 points and 4.6 boards from Boston Johnson, 9.6 points and 5.6 rebounds from Cory Vaassen and 7.2 points and from Matt Oestreich.
Johnson paces the team with 73 assists and 46 steals while Stocki has a team-best 43 3-pointers.
UW-Oshkosh, which has a 9-3 record in first-round games, won back-to-back league tournaments in 2002-03. UW-Platteville claimed its only crown in the inaugural tournament in 1999.
The top seed has won nine of the 16 previous conference tournaments. Fourth seeds have combined for a 14-14 mark and won two championships (UW-Eau Claire in 2001, UW-Oshkosh in 2003). Fifth seeds are 9-16 all-time and have not won a title, but they have won at least one game during three of the last four WIAC Tournaments.