The SCGD failed to steer wrong yet again last night, as Lehigh-Bucknell was another thriller. Lehigh proved that they are not a one-man show by winning a tough road game without McCollum, while Bucknell showed that there may not be much to their team beyond their star player Muscala, as they seemed to fall apart when he left the game. The two teams will meet again on February 18 at Lehigh.
For tonight’s game, we turn our attention to the Summit League. Two years ago, Western Illinois was 4-23. Last season they managed a .500 record. This season, they have already put together a 15-4 record, including a 7-1 start in Summit League play that has them sitting in a first place tie with North Dakota State, a game ahead of last season’s conference champions from South Dakota State. They have a great shot at setting their all-time school Division I record for wins in a season, which right now sits at 20, achieved twice, last in 1994-95.
With Oral Roberts having left the Summit League this season for the Southland, the conference looks like it will be a three team dogfight the rest of the way. However, in terms of RPI numbers, WIU is at 137 while North Dakota State and South Dakota State are sitting at 55 and 65 respectively. Despite that, Western Illinois is coming off a huge home win over conference co-leader North Dakota State their last time out.
Western Illinois takes their team on the road tonight, 7:00 PM Eastern, to face the Mastodons of IP-Fort Wayne. IPFW is 9-12 on the season with an RPI of 292. If the Leathernecks are going to make a serious run at the Summit League title, they cannot afford to lose games such as this one tonight. Keep an eye out in this game for sharpshooter Ceola Clark III, who became the Leathernecks’ all time leading three point shooter this past weekend. Keep an eye on Western’s defense as well, as they are fourth in the nation in scoring defense, permitting 52.1 points per game. Western Illinois is also third in the nation in fewest personal fouls committed per game, committing an average of only 12.3.