The Mad Ants, who got to choose their first-round playoff opponent because they won the regular-season championship, have opted to play the Reno Bighorns.
The best-of-three series will start at 5 p.m. Friday in Reno, Nev. Games 2 will be at 7 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. Game 3, if necessary, will be April 15 at the Coliseum.
"We talked it over the last day and half and decided by looking at the rosters and travel, and we felt this would be the best choice for us," said Mad Ants coach Conner Henry, whose 34-16 team won 17 of its last 20 games.
"We're not exactly sure when the first game will occur, probably Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, but we have some days to prepare for it. This gives us time to rest up and we feel confident with that selection."
Reno (27-33) is the eighth and lowest seed in the playoffs.
The Mad Ants defeated Reno 114-89 in their only meeting, Dec. 26 at Memorial Coliseum.
The possible foes for Fort Wayne came from seeds 4 through 8 – they also included Canton, Sioux Falls, Rio Grande Valley and Santa Cruz – and Fort Wayne had played Reno, Rio Grande Valley and Santa Cruz only once each.
Was the lack of familiarity a concern?
"It's one of the things you talk about," Henry said. "You play virtually everybody else multiple times and you get to know each other. I felt going to Reno and playing an opponent we've only met once would be a good thing. No matter how you slice it, it's six or seven hours of travel for any opponent except Canton. We felt the eighth seed was the best choice for us to play."
As for the unique selection process, the Mad Ants embraced it.
"I don't think it's nerve-wracking. It's nice to be able to choose your opponent," Henry said. "But we look at it that we have to play everybody (if we want to win a championship). We'll have to go through everybody. To have the No. 1 selection, that's been our goal for the last 15 games and we accomplished it. Now we move forward."