CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As Cleveland State, Akron, and Kent State have this week to determine if they will go dancing, the Ashland Eagles have already punched their ticket to March Madness in Division II. They did it coming from the middle of the pack.
Because of COVID, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference did not seed their teams according to who had the most wins. The formula they used ended up placing Ashland as the fifth seed, despite the Eagles being tied for the most wins, 14, of any team in the GLIAC.
“We were mad we were the fifth seed,” said guard Bo Furcron. “We feel like the majority of the schools in the conference would not have said we were the fifth seed.”
The Eagles beat Michigan Tech on Sunday to earn the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, which was likely their only way into the dance. Not bad for a group that did not even know if there would be a season.
“The goal this year was to play,” said head coach John Ellenwood. “We didn’t know back in October if we were playing.” In the entire month of November, they practiced once. Ashland managed to play one game in December, not knowing if it would be their only game all year. “We went over and played a great Mercyhurst team, and I said ‘That might be it, guys,’” said Ellenwood.
But it was not. By January, teams were getting on the floor. Ashland closed out February, winning three of their last four heading into the GLIAC Tournament. They are playing their best ball at the right time. “It feels great. We come into the tournament as the fifth seed again,” said Furcron. “Obviously, the rankings don’t matter that much, so I feel we are in a pretty good place right now.”
They tip-off Saturday night at 7 against Wayne State in Evansville, Indiana. Wayne State is in their conference, and they lost to the Warriors twice. A win over them would mean a lot.
The Ashland women also made their NCAA tournament with an at-large bid after losing their tournament’s final game on Sunday. The Lady Eagles play Grand Valley State on Friday night at 6:00 EST in Springfield, MO.