Here are three DII men's college basketball games to keep an eye on this weekend.
No. 21 Dallas Baptist at No. 3 West Texas A&M | 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 8
This Lone Star Conference showdown has it all: A pair of top-25 teams, two of the strongest offenses in DII and the Buffs' victory stampede currently up to 25 games in a row. And to top it all, we'll get this exact matchup again Saturday night. Get ready for points, points and more points with two of the more dynamic backcourts in the Division on display.
For West Texas A&M, it'll be Qua Grant, Joel Murray and Jon'il Fugett — averaging 54 points per game after this same trio led WTAMU to a 32-1 record last season. Grant and Murray were All-Americans a year ago, though Grant might be after some even more significant hardware as a junior. He leads the Buffs at 22 points and 10 rebounds per game and is fresh off a triple-double against Oklahoma Baptist.
Last year, WTAMU beat Dallas Baptist in their first-ever meeting behind potent 3-point shooting. This time around, it could be the Patriots who have an edge when it comes to perimeter shooting. DBU leads DII with 15 made 3's per game, led by a backcourt of Chandler Jacobs, Ricky Lujan and Jalen White. Jacobs leads DBU with 22 points per game while knocking down an incredible 57.7 percent of his 3's. If you think that's wild, Lujan is four games into his college career and he's firing at a 61.5 percent clip. This game could come down to whoever has the ball last if both teams are hitting shots with consistency.
No. 5 Washburn at No. 22 Missouri Western | 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 9
When the MIAA preseason poll came out in early November, Washburn was projected to finish third in the league with Missouri Western not far behind in fifth place. Seven weeks into the season and the Ichabods are in the driver's seat of the league with the Griffons tied for second. Both teams are also ranked in the NABC Coaches poll, something that — up until three weeks ago — hadn't happened at MWSU since 2002.
Washburn is 8-0 and coming off a huge win at No. 1 Northwest Missouri State. Missouri Western is 7-1 with a chance to earn a statement win of its own under first-year coach Will Martin. This game also features one of the better guard matchups in the conference with Washburn's Tyler Geiman and Western's Tyrell Caroll. Both were first-team All-MIAA a year ago and have improved since. Geiman looks like a contender for MIAA Player of the Year as he leads the Ichabods in nearly every offensive category. Carroll is leading the Griffons in points for a second straight year at 19.1 per game.
The bigger storyline is consistency. Washburn shot the lights out in the second half and overtime of its upset win over NWMSU. How will it handle a MWSU team where six players average double-digit points? Like WTAMU-DBU, don't be surprised if the scoreboard fills up quickly in this one.
No. 6 Findlay at Walsh | 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 10
Following the most recent poll, Findlay has its highest ranking in a decade. What better way to back it up than to play the team that ended your season a year ago? Walsh is the reigning G-MAC champion while the Oilers have looked like one of the stronger teams in the Division early on this year.
At 5-0, Findlay has been able to win games at both ends of the floor, primarily the offensive end, while Walsh's focus is more defensive-minded. The Oilers score an average of 82.8 points per game while the Cavaliers allow just 55 per contest. While something's got to give there, don't overlook Walsh's offense.
Yes, Walsh has only been scoring 66 points at a time, but a creator like Darryl Straughter is capable of turning things around. The senior scored 29 points in the Cavaliers' win over Kentucky Wesleyan. Findlay's Tommy Schmock, an All-Defensive selection in the GMAC, will likely be matched up with Straughter in what could be the best matchup of this game.