Men's Basketball On Cusp of Tournament Berth

With a win tonight against Muskingum (7-7 Conference, 10-11 Overall), your very own Marietta Pioneers (6-8 Conference, 11-10 Overall) will be guaranteed to make their first OAC Tournament since the 03-04 season.

The win would put the Pios at 7-8 in the conference, which would mean that Baldwin-Wallace (3-11 Conference, 7-14 Overall) would have to run the table in their four games to at least force a tie.  Marietta currently has the tie-breaker, as they beat B-W earlier in the season.  Moreso, they play again at B-W in a week or so.  But things could come down to the final game of the regular season if Pio Power disappears.

The Pioneers chances are looking good, as far as at least getting an OAC Tournament berth.  The Pioneers play the Muskies at home tonight, then play nationally ranked John Carroll (#18 nationally in most recent poll, #1 OAC, 12-2 Conference, 16-4 Overall) at John Carroll.  The Pios come back home to play Mount Union (5-9 Conference, 11-10 Overall) in a game they should win, then finish off the season with what could be a very interesting game at Baldwin-Wallace.

Baldwin-Wallace plays at Otterbein (2-12 Conference, 4-17 Overall) tonight in what should be a win for them.  They then move on to play at Muskingum.  The good news is that the Yellow Jackets also will hit the brick wall that is John Carroll this season, before heading home to take on Marietta.  A loss in any of these games would automatically qualify the Pios for the OAC Tournament.

The tournament, which is hosted at the various OAC team home courts, will take place before the end of February.  The higher seed of each match-up will host the lower seed, including the championship game.  It will be a rough road for Marietta, if they do make the tournament.  Eventual #1 seed John Carroll or #2 seed Capital (#14 nationally in most recent poll, 11-3 Conference, 18-3 Overall) are both poised to make the NCAA Division Three Tournament, just a question as to whether it is from the OAC’s automatic bid from the conference championship, or via at-large bid due to their national ranking.

However, it is possible that there could be three Ohio Athletic Conference teams in the big tournament this year.  If John Carroll and Capital are both upset in the tournament, the eventual tournament champion would get the automatic bid.  More than likely, both of the nationally-ranked teams would still deserve to get into the tournament.  So yes, we can hope and dream that Marietta could possibly maybe make it to the Big Dance.

Last year, there were 59 teams in the hunt for the NCAA Divison Three Championship.  Two of them were OAC teams, Capial (At-Large Selection) and Heidelberg (Conference Champion).  Capital made it out of the first round with a win over Bethany College (West Virginia), but then lost to Hope College (which made it all the way to the Final Four.  Heidelberg lost to Ohio Wesleyan in the first round (but was eventually taken out by Hope College).  Washington University (St. Louis) eventually went on to defeat Hope College in the Final Four, then win over Amherst College to claim the 2008 Championship.