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Titans To Host NCAA Basketball Sectional

Titans To Host NCAA Basketball Sectional

UW-Oshkosh's quest for a return trip to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship will go through its own Kolf Sports Center.

The Titans (25-3), ranked fourth in the country by D3hoops.com, begins the Oshkosh Sectional at 7 p.m. Friday (March 8) with their blend of offensive and defensive proficiency against the explosive offense of 20th-ranked Loras College (Iowa) (23-6).

The Oshkosh Sectional commences at 4:30 p.m. Friday with a semifinal matchup between the efficient offense of 13th-ranked University of St. Thomas (Minn.) (24-4) and the formidable defense of Guilford College (N.C.) (23-7).

Friday's Oshkosh Sectional winners will play at 7 p.m. Saturday (March 9) in Kolf Sports Center for the right to advance to the Final Four that will be contested March 15-16 in Fort Wayne, Ind.

UW-Oshkosh, last year's national runner-up, reached the third round of the NCAA postseason by breezing through the Collegeville (Minn.) Regional by scores of 86-62 over Lake Forest College (Ill.) in the first round and 108-86 over University of Northwestern (Minn.) during the title game. The 108 points were the most scored by the Titans in an NCAA tournament game.

Loras College is in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history by virtue of winning the Naperville (Ill.) Regional. The Duhawks won their regional opener, 75-64, over Albion College (Mich.) before knocking off 15th-ranked and host North Central College by an 84-82 score during the championship contest.

UW-Oshkosh and Loras College will be meeting for the first time since the Titans slipped past the Duhawks, 73-72 in overtime, Dec. 30, 2012, in Wisconsin Dells.

University of St. Thomas, the 2011 and 2016 Division III champion, is in the Oshkosh Sectional after upsetting top-ranked and defending national champion Nebraska Wesleyan University, 70-58, during the title game of the Lincoln (Neb.) Regional. The Tommies, seeking their fifth trip to the Final Four, began this year's regional with an 80-66 win over UW-La Crosse.

Guilford College, which made back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2009 and 2010, won its own Greenville (N.C.) Regional championship after downing Sewanee: The University of the South by a 97-59 score in the first round and 17th-ranked Wittenberg University (Ohio), 70-61, in the title game. The unranked Quakers have a 5-0 record against nationally ranked teams this season.

UW-Oshkosh, averaging 83.8 points per game and allowing 67.6 per contest, enters the sectional ranked eighth in the country with a +9.4 average rebounding margin. The Titans, who have outrebounded 27 of their last 30 opponents, also rank 11th nationally in average scoring margin (+16.2), 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.48) and 14th in turnovers per game (10.6).

Titans senior guard Ben Boots, the 2019 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Player of the Year, leads the team with 16.0 points and 4.1 assists per game, a .887 free throw percentage and 79 made 3-pointers.

Boots is the program's all-time leader with 264 career made 3-pointers while listing second in school history with 397 assists and seventh with 1,643 points.

UW-Oshkosh junior center Jack Flynn averages 15.0 points and a team-leading 7.8 points per game. He paces the squad with a .586 field goal percentage and eight double-doubles on the year.

Titans junior forward Adam Fravert is adding 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, a team-high 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

Senior guard Brett Wittchow averages 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game for the Titans while sophomore forward Connor Duax rounds out the UW-Oshkosh starting lineup at 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest.

Key contributors off the UW-Oshkosh bench include junior guard David Vlotho and freshman guard Eric Peterson, who both average more than 14 minutes per game. Vlotho chips in 6.0 points per game and Peterson 2.6.

The Titans compiled a program-record 21-game winning streak – the fourth longest in WIAC history – between Nov. 20 and Feb. 9.

Loras College heads into Oshkosh with an offense that ranks fourth in the nation with a .785 free throw percentage, fifth with 543 made free throws, 11th by scoring 90.8 points per game and 14th with 18.3 assists per contest.

Five Duhawks average better than 10 points per game, including senior guards Ryan DiCanio and Josh Ruggles at 18.9 and 18.2 per contest, respectively.

DiCanio leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game, 127 assists and 19 blocks while Ruggles has made a team-high 86 3-pointers and ranks 16th in the country with a .897 free throw percentage.

Completing the Loras College most recent starting lineup are senior guard Demond George averaging 12.0 points per game, freshman forward Jordan Boyd at 10.1 per contest and sophomore forward Cole Navigato at 6.2.

Sophomore guard Rowan McGowen, who has started 20 times this season, averages 11.2 points per game.

DiCanio, George, McGowen and Ruggles have each hit at least 52 3-pointers on the year.

Loras College typically relies on an eight-man rotation that includes freshman guard Jordan Matthews and senior forward Jake Toman in a reserve role. Matthews scores 5.7 points per game and Toman 3.9.

University of St. Thomas averages 84.9 points per game behind an offense that leads the country with a 1.89 assist-to-turnover ratio and 9.4 to turnovers per contest. The Tommies also rank 12th nationally in average turnover margin (5.0), 13th in average scoring margin (+16.2), 15th in made 3-pointers per game (11.2), and 19th in field goal percentage (.496) and assists per game (17.7).

Senior forward Connor Bair averages a team-best 14.4 points per game for the Tommies while freshman guard Anders Nelson adds 14.1 points and paces the squad with 150 rebounds, 130 assists and 46 steals. Bair, who has a team-leading 26 blocks, ranks 18th in the nation with a .629 field goal percentage.

University of St. Thomas senior guard Michael Hannon scores 8.9 points per game and has drained a team-high 52 3-pointers.

The Tommies starting lineup also features sophomore guard Ryan Lindberg at 8.1 points per game and senior guard GT Johnson at 5.9.

The University of St. Thomas deep bench features sophomore guard Burt Hedstrom, junior forwards Elijah Hannah and Tommy Anderson, freshman guard Riley Miller, and junior guard Tom Madison all averaging at least 10 minutes a game. Hedstrom and Hannah are scoring 7.2 and 6.7 points per contest, respectively, this season.

Fifteen different Tommies have contributed to the team's 313 made 3-pointers on the year, including Lindberg with 48, and Hedstrom and Nelson with 44 apiece.

Guilford College's rugged defense ranks third in the nation by limiting opponents to a .375 field goal percentage while listing fourth with a .289 opponent 3-point percentage. The Quakers also rank fifth nationally in average rebounding margin (+11.0), 11th in rebounds per game (44.4) and 17th in scoring defense (64.3).

The Quakers sport a 19-0 record this season when holding teams to under 70 points.

Three Guilford College starters average more than 12 points per game as senior forward Marcus Curry scores 15.4 per contest, and senior forward Carson Long and junior forward Kyler Gregory both add 12.6.

The frontcourt trio also lead the squad in rebounding with Gregory averaging 8.1 boards per game, Curry 7.1 per contest and Long 6.2. Gregory is shooting a team-best 52.1 percent from the field.

Starting in the Quakers backcourt are sophomore guards Jaylen Gore and Joah Logan, who are contributing 9.9 and 5.8 points per game, respectively. Gore is pacing the team with 125 assists and 33 steals while shooting 86.3 percent at the free throw line.

The top Guilford College reserve is sophomore guard Will Leckonby, averaging 6.0 points per game behind a team-leading 55 made 3-pointers.

UW-Oshkosh, making its program-record fourth straight and ninth overall NCAA tournament appearance, reached last year's national title game after winning five consecutive games away from home. The Titans fell, 78-72, in the Division III championship game to Nebraska Wesleyan University.

The Titans, who own a 14-8 record in the national tournament, also reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2002 and the Elite Eight in 2003. UW-Oshkosh is hosting an NCAA tournament game for the first time since an opening round contest in 2003.

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