By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Anything can happen in late February and early March, as Capital University Men's Basketball proved on Saturday when it beat the Ohio Athletic Conference's top team to end the regular season. Now, the sixth-seeded Crusaders will look to carry that momentum into the first round of the OAC Tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 20 when they travel to No. 3 Ohio Northern University.
Tuesday, February 17, 2018 | 8:00 p.m. | The ONU Sports Center (Ada, Ohio)
Capital (12-13 overall, 8-10 OAC) upset the top-seeded John Carroll University Blue Streaks in The Capital Center 85-80 in a physical affair on Saturday. Capital had lost three in a row before Saturday's huge win, although two of those losses were by a combined seven points and two were on the road. Capital has struggles to a 3-9 record outside of The Capital Center this year.
Ohio Northern (17-8, 12-6 OAC) is 6-4 at home this season but the team has been vulnerable on its own court lately. The Polar Bears are coming off of an 88-68 loss to Marietta College on Saturday though, a game that was played on ONU's Ada campus. Northern has lost two of its past three games with both losses coming at home.
The Polar Bears hold a 2-0 advantage in the regular season series, although the two games told very different stories. The first meeting of the year on Dec. 2 featured three ties and eight lead changes and the Polar Bears escaped Columbus with an 86-84 victory. When the Crusaders traveled to Ada on Jan. 27, ONU led by as many as 34 in an 82-60 win.
The Polar Bears are led by the 1-2 punch of Nate Burger and Ryan Bruns, the second- and third-leading scorers in the conference with 24.9 and 24.7 points per game, respectively. Junior forward Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) will have his hands full down low defending Bruns and rebounding as Ohio Northern's center is second in the conference in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game. Bruns also leads the OAC in blocks per game with 2.8.
As a team, the Polar Bears are second in the conference in scoring at 84.3 points per game and the team leads the conference in shooting percentage (47.7 percent). The Crusaders rank third in the OAC with a 47.0 shooting percentage from the floor, although Capital is ninth in points per game with 75.0.
On the defensive end of the floor, Capital allows the third-fewest points per game in the conference at 75.6. The Polar Bears allow 76.9 points per game, fifth in the conference. While Capital has the edge in points allowed, Ohio Northern limits its opponents to only 41.5 percent shooting from the field, the best mark in the conference.
The Crusaders will rely on junior guards Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) and Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) to match ONU's scoring. Schreck is entering the tournament on a hot streak, scoring 22 points per game over the past five, seven points more than his season average. Weingartner has seven games of 20 points or more this season and scored 27 in the first matchup between Capital and ONU this season. Capital's X-factor though may be Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford). The Crusaders were 7-3 this year then the junior wing scored in double figures.
The game between the Crusaders and Polar Bears will tip off in the ONU Sports Center at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The winner will advance to the tournament semifinals on Thursday, Feb. 22 and will play the winner of the No. 7 Wilmington College vs. No. 2 Marietta College matchup.
TOURNAMENT ADMISSION PRICES
Non-OAC student: $3
Senior (62+): $6
OAC Student: free with a valid college ID
OAC parent passes not accepted
OAC lifetime passes accepted