Sports

Ospreys get a big send-off before heading to Ohio for NCAA Sweet 16

The Stockton University men’s basketball team got a well-deserved send-off from students and faculty on Wednesday before heading to Ohio to compete in the sectional round of the NCAA Division III tournament. 

Stockton (26-4) is set to do battle against Virginia’s Christopher Newport University (26-2) on Friday at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. This is the first time ever that the No.23 seeded Ospreys will face off against the No.4 seeded Captains.

The send-off took place in the Sports Center lobby and was organized by both Stockton’s Student Development and Student Senate. It began with head coach Scott Bittner receiving a special gift from his players. The gift was in honor of Bittner’s first NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach. 

“In honor of Coach Bittner’s first NCAA Tournament as head coach, we’d like to present to him an NCAA banner with all of his players’ signatures on it,” Interim Athletic Director Anthony Berich told the crowd. 

Prior to taking the head coach position in 2016, Bittner had served on the coaching staff for 10 years as an assistant. This isn’t Bittner’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and he was on the Stockton team that made it all the way to the Division III national championship game in 2009. 

After the presentation, team captain Kyion Flanders led the players between two lines of students and faculty who screamed, cheered, and made as much noise as possible all the way until the last person was out the door and on the bus. 

The bus departed campus just before 3:00 P.M. Following the seven-hour journey to Ohio, Stockton will prepare for Friday’s game which is set to tip-off at 4:00 P.M. at Marietta’s Ban Johnson Arena. The game will also be live-streamed and information can be found on Stockton’s website. 

The team will have some fan presence in the arena as well. A fan bus packed with students will leave campus at around 6:00 A.M. on Friday morning and make the 480-mile trek to support the Ospreys. If Stockton wins Friday’s game, they will move on to the Elite Eight and play another team on Saturday night. If the Ospreys triumph, they will head to Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 18th to play in the final four-game and possibly battle for the Division III championship the next day if they come out on top.

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