Wittenberg earns home game in first round of playoffs

First-round opponent is a program Wittenberg has never played


Tigers finished regular season 10-0 by beating Wooster on Saturday.

Wittenberg Tigers coach Joe Fincham's thinking on Selection Sunday never changes.

"Expect the unexpected," he said.

Seventeen years after the Tigers were sent to Abilene, Texas, in the first round — still the biggest playoff surprise for the Tigers after all these years — they were handed an unknown opponent in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Division III playoffs.

RELATED: Fincham creates ‘culture of toughness’ at Wittenberg

The bracket was released at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and No. 12 Wittenberg (10-0) found out it will play No. 15 Frostburg State (9-1) at noon Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field.

"The seniors, they're deserving of a home game," Fincham said. "I'm excited for them to be able to wear the red jerseys again."

If Wittenberg wins, it would play at home in the second round, too. Wittenberg or Frostburg will play No. 14 Washington & Jefferson (10-0) or No. 21 Johns Hopkins (9-1) in the second round. No. 2 Mount Union (10-0) looms in the upper half of the bracket as the most likely opponent for whichever of those four teams advances to the national quarterfinals.

This will be the first matchup between Wittenberg and Frostburg State. The Bobcats lost 27-24 to No. 13 Wesley in the regular season.

Frostburg State, located in Frostburg, Md., received an at-large bid. It was the runner-up in the New Jersey Athletic Conference behind Wesley. The Bobcats lost 38-14 to St. John Fisher in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Fincham and his staff started the process of preparing for Frostburg right away.

"I'm always excited to be back in the playoffs," Fincham said. "I'm excited about our team. We're playoff worthy. Guys have worked hard. We've played a challenging schedule when you think about winning on the road like places Westminster, Wabash and DePauw. We'll see. Obviously in big ballgames sometimes, it's about matchups. I have no idea how we'll match up with Frostburg State."

Wittberg completed a 10-0 regular season with a 47-21 victory Saturday over Wooster at Edwards-Maurer Field. The Tigers won the North Coast Athletic Conference championship for the seventh time in nine years.

This will be Wittenberg’s 19th playoff appearance. It has a 22-16 record in the postseason. It has won its first-round game three times in its last four appearances but has not made it past the second round since beating Mount St. Joseph and Trine at home in 2009.

RELATED: Wilson has been ‘dynamite’ for Wittenberg

Wittenberg lost in the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2001 to Mount Union and to Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2009. It was the national runner-up in 1978 and 1979 and won the Stagg Bowl in 1973 and 1975. It was the national poll champion in 1962, 1964 and 1969.

Mary Hardin-Baylor won the national title in 2016, breaking an 11-year run in which either Mount Union or Wisconsin-Whitewater won every season.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Division IV: All-Ohio boys basketball
Division IV: All-Ohio boys basketball

The Division IV boys basketball All-Ohio team was announced Monday by a statewide media panel. The teams were selected by members of the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. »RELATED: Ahrens, Barhorst earn top D-IV boys honors »RELATED: Trotwood-Madison head back to final four FIRST TEAM: Lukas Isaly, Hannibal River, 5-11, sr., 24.4; Mark...
Two positions likely available for Reds’ Opening-Day roster
Two positions likely available for Reds’ Opening-Day roster

Ready or not, the 2018 major-league baseball season starts in 10 days. Bryan Price knows who his 10 starting position players are. Yes, there are only eight for any given game, but Price considers four outfielders - Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker - starters. Catchers Tucker Barnhart and Devin Mesoraco will not be in a...
Opposing coach on Trotwood: ‘They’re crazy athletic’
Opposing coach on Trotwood: ‘They’re crazy athletic’

The Trotwood-Madison boys basketball team will be a heavy favorite to win an elusive state championship this weekend. The first challenge will be to overcome newcomer Byesville Meadowbrook in Friday’s final four semifinals. Trotwood (25-3) will play Meadowbrook (22-6) at 10:45 a.m. Friday at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center...
End of an era for OSU’s Kelsey Mitchell

Kelsey Mitchell’s last shot in an Ohio State women’s basketball uniform was one she made at least a couple hundred times before: A pull-up jumper from a few feet behind the 3-point line that hit nothing but net. Unfortunately for the third-seeded Buckeyes, this one came well after the outcome of their second-round NCAA tournament game against...
Ahrens, Barhorst earn top D-III All-Ohio honors
Ahrens, Barhorst earn top D-III All-Ohio honors

Versailles High School senior Justin Ahrens has been named the boys high school basketball Division III player of the year and Anna’s Nate Barhorst the D-III coach of the year. Their selections, along with other D-III and D-IV All-Ohio boys basketball teams, were announced on Monday by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association. An outstanding offensive...
More Stories