UWO men to host NCAA Regional, secure spot in tournament


Jacob Link / Advance-Titan — The UWO men’s basketball team celebrates their at-large bid into the NCAA tournament Feb. 27.

Jacob Link, Co-Sports Editor

The UW Oshkosh men’s basketball team punched its ticket into the 2023 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship as an at-large team Feb. 27, and will host first and second round action at the Kolf Sports Center.

In the first round of the tournament, the Titans (21-6) will take on Fontbonne University (16-11) March 3 at 7:05 p.m. at the Kolf Sports Center in the Oshkosh regional.

UWO head coach Matt Lewis said the team was excited for the opportunity to host.

“Playing in march is a special, special thing and to see our name come across and find out that we’re getting to host on Friday night, that’s a really cool thing,” Lewis said. “We’re fired up.”

In the other first round matchup, Hope College (19-9) will face off against Bethany Lutheran College (23-4) at 4:35 p.m. March 3. The two winners from March 3 will compete in the second round of the tournament March 4 at 7:05 p.m. for a spot in the Sweet 16.

The Titans enter their matchup against the Griffins looking to bounce back after a loss to UW-Whitewater in the championship game of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. UWO finished the regular season as WIAC champs, going 13-1 in conference play and were undefeated at home before their matchup against UWW Feb. 26.

Oshkosh will be led by senior forward Levi Borchert who is averaging 15.5 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game. Borchert, who has 15 double-doubles this season and is shooting 54.9% from the floor, led the WIAC in rebounding and was fifth in scoring this season. Borchert will be joined on the court by senior guard Hunter Plamann, who is averaging 13.9 points per game and leads the team in 3-pointers made with 63 while shooting 42% from behind the arc.

Senior guards Eric Peterson and Quinn Steckbauer both average over 10 points per game, 10.9 and 10.6 respectively, and Peterson has the second-highest shooting percentage on the team, shooting 53.7% from the floor. Sophomore forward Jonah Rindfleisch averages only 5.6 points per game as a starter, but has the second-most rebounds per game, averaging 5.5, and is third in the WIAC with 32 blocked shots.

As a team, UWO shoots 45.8% from the floor and averages 73.1 points per game, both fourth-best in the WIAC. The Titans hold their opponents to 63.3 points per game and 42.7% shooting from the field to lead the conference in both defensive categories.

Lewis said he thinks the team is well prepared for the tournament.

“I think we’ve played a pretty tough schedule,” he said. “We were challenged again in our last game, and we’re going to learn and continue to improve. This is a tough group and they’re excited for another opportunity.”

Fontbonne comes into the game riding a four-game win streak, defeating Webster University 55-49 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament championship game, giving the Griffins an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Fontbonne went 10-4 in the SLIAC regular season, sharing the regular season crown with Webster.

The Griffins will be led by senior guard Caden Clark who averages 13.6 points per game and shoots 40.4% from the field. Alongside Clark, who leads the team in assists with 5.4 per game, will be junior guard Brent Wagner who averages 12.8 points per game and shoots a team-best 34.7% from behind the arc. Junior forward Will Suellentrop leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.2 rebounds per game, and averages 7.9 points per game.

As a team, the Griffins average 75.3 points per game and shoot 44.2% from the floor. Fontbonne out-rebounds opponents 40.1-36.4 but allows 73.8 points per game and turns the ball over 15 times per game on average.

Last season the Titans hosted the first two rounds of the tournament, taking down Blackburn College before falling to Case Western Reserve University in the second round. UWO last won the NCAA tournament in 2019, Lewis’ first season as head coach of the team.