The Richard Stockton College men's basketball team will go on the road for the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend.
The Ospreys (23-4), ranked No. 25 nationally on d3hoops.com, learned Monday that they will face Bowdoin College (19-5), of Brunswick, Maine, in the first round of the tournament Friday at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa.
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. If the Ospreys beat the Polar Bears, they would take on the winner of Friday's Cabrini (25-1)-Bridgewater State (16-11) game Saturday at Cabrini.
Cabrini is ranked No. 6 in the country. The Ospreys beat Bridgewater State 84-76 in the season opener Nov. 15.
Ticket prices for all the games will be released today. The Final Four will be held in Salem, Va., on March 21-22.
The Ospreys clinched an automatic berth in the tournament Saturday, when they won the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament with a 65-44 victory over William Paterson at the Stockton Sports Center in Galloway Township. Stockton was the only NJAC team to make the NCAA tournament.
"I'm very disappointed that our conference only has one team in," Ospreys coach Gerry Matthews said Monday evening in a phone interview. "I really question the fairness of the (selection) system. I think one of the leagues in New England got four teams in, and we only get one? No league should be getting four teams into the tournament. I think we play a pretty good brand of basketball in our league, but we don't seem to get the respect."
Bowdoin received an at-large bid despite going 2-4 in its last eight games and losing in the quarterfinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament to Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.).
The Polar Bears were among three NESCAC teams to qualify, joining defending national champion Amherst and Williams.
"We've never played them before," Matthews said. "But I know they play in a pretty good league. Amherst and Williams have both won national titles recently, so I know Bowdoin is used to seeing some pretty good competition. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
The Ospreys will make their 14th appearance in the NCAA tournament and first since the 2009-10 season, when they lost 85-82 to Virginia Wesleyan in the first round. A year earlier, they reached the NCAA championship game. Stockton also made a trip to the Final Four in 1987. The Ospreys are 22-15 in NCAA tournament games.
This season, Stockton has won eight straight games overall and are 10-1 in their last 11.
"In the beginning of the season, I thought we could be pretty good," Matthews said. "But you never know how things are going to go with injuries and things. We needed to see the kids do it."
Bowdoin will make its fourth trip to the tournament, following appearances in 1995-96, 1998-99 and 2007-08. The Polar Bears are 1-2 in first-round games.
Junior center John Swords is the Polar Bears' top scorer (14.1 points per game) and rebounder (9.5). Senior guard Andrew Madinger (12.1 points) and junior forward Keegan Pieri (11) also average double figures.
Junior forward Josh Blamon averages 16.9 points per game for Stockton. Senior forward Nnamdi Usuwa averages 11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds. Senior guard Rameel Johnson is the Ospreys' top rebounder at 7.9 per game.
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