Men’s Basketball punches their National Tournament ticket for the 16th time
By: Collin Frazier
After three years of missing the cut, with a pandemic in-between, the University of Findlay Men’s Basketball team will return to the Division II National Tournament for the sixteenth time in school history. Because the Oilers failed to clinch the G-MAC tournament, they had to hope their resume was enough for an at-large bid, which it was as they earned a 7th seed in the Midwest Region.
“Anytime you can be part of the national tournament, it’s a huge honor,” Head Coach Charlie Ernst said.
The last time the Oilers made the tournament, it had been their 3rd straight year making the tournament from 2017-2019.
“When you make it several years in a row it’s easy to start to take it for granted,” Ernst commented. “There are 313 Division II schools in the country that have men’s basketball. Sixty-four teams make the national tournament, twenty-three of them are automatic bids, so that means the other forty-one bids are divvied up between 290 schools.”
“So, it’s quite an honor to be one of those forty-one. We had to do the at-large route because we didn’t win our conference tournament,” Ernst said. “But fortunately, our resume and what we accomplished this [season] against a very strong strength of schedule gave us the opportunity to be part of it.”
Landing in the Midwest Region, the Oilers will be surrounded by G-MAC familiars (Walsh, Cedarville, and Hillsdale), as well as some out-of-conference opponents from earlier this season (Truman State, Ferris State). To Ernst, the Oilers already have an advantage because of it.
“The more you know about your opponent, the better,” Ernst explained. “Some people might look at it the other way, but I think most coaches would agree with my assessment that it’s always good to go into games and know a little bit about your opponent. Not only what they do, but more importantly – it’s one thing to see quickness and speed, athletic ability, and size on a video.
“It’s another thing to play against it and to coach against other coaches and understand what drives them,” Ernst said. “In other words, some coaches are driven by matchups, others are driven by tempo of the game, some are driven by just different things. The more you know as a coach going in about the opposing coach and their way of game planning, I think all of those things play a factor.”
The Oilers will kick off the tournament against former GLIAC opponent Ferris State, who the Oilers had defeated on Nov. 23, 86-74. With more than three months since the last meeting, the Bulldogs have made plenty of adjustments since.
“I think as the season’s gone on they’ve [Ferris State] made a concerted effort to highlight their inside game,” said Ernst. “They did a little bit in our game, but I think as the season’s gone on they’ve developed more confidence on their inside game.
“While they score a lot of points and they want to play fast and they want to exert some pressure on defense to create tempo and turnover, I think the thing that’s gone unnoticed a little bit that we’ve noticed on video the last month is they’ve really tried to go inside more take advantage of size and ability in there, so that’s something we’re going to have to contend with.”
The Oilers tip-off against the Bulldogs at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity for our guys, and I think because the region is so balanced, it takes a team to get hot at the right time,” Ernst said. “Whoever does that [is] going to have a leg up and [there is] no reason why it can’t be us.”