The game is the 2000-01 regular season finale for both teams, and it will determine the North Coast Athletic Conference championship. Wittenberg comes into the game, a rematch of the Tigers' 90-83 victory on Jan. 20 in Springfield, with a 20-2 overall record and a mark of 14-1 in the NCAC. Wooster, the preseason conference favorite, carries a 21-2 overall record and 14-1 NCAC mark into the contest.
Anyone interested in attending the game is being advised by Wooster athletic department administrators to arrive early on game-day. Reserved seating sections are already sold out, and there will be no other pre-sale sessions held. General admission seats are priced at $3, while children's tickets cost $1. The ticket windows will open at 5 p.m.
The Tigers come into the game riding a 12-game winning streak, and they have put together their first 20-win season since 1996-97. The team's last loss came on Jan. 3 at Otterbein College, with Wittenberg's only other defeat coming on Dec. 6 at Ohio Wesleyan, a game that was played without Head Coach Bill Brown, who missed the game due to a family illness.
Wittenberg, which stretched its run of non-losing seasons to 45 consecutive in 2000-01, is led by senior forward Ryan Taylor of Waynesfield, Ohio, who now stands No. 9 all-time on the school's career scoring list with 1,342 points. He has led the team in scoring in 15 of its first 21 games, and he ranks among the league leaders in scoring with a 16.7 points per game average. On Wednesday, Taylor and freshman guard Mark Borland of Kettering, Ohio paced the Tigers' balanced offensive attack with 14 points each in a critical 90-63 victory at Earlham.
Wittenberg, the NCAA Division III men's basketball program with the most wins in history after surpassing the 1,400 plateau earlier this year, has not been outrebounded in 2000-01 and leads the nation in rebounding margin. The Tigers also recently completed a perfect 12-0 home regular season with a 74-71 win over Allegheny on Feb. 10 in which the team's four seniors - Taylor, center Chris Fillmore, guard Alex Welp and guard Kyle Krauss - were honored.
But this will be a road test, and not an easy pop quiz at that. Wooster is coached by 1974 Wittenberg graduate Steve Moore, who has compiled a 305-80 record, eight regular season NCAC titles and six tournament championships in his 14 years there. Moore and the Scots, the No. 3 team in NCAA Division III history in terms of total victories, have jockeyed for the league title repeatedly through the last decade. Wooster has gotten the best of things in recent years, picking up three straight regular season crowns.
The Scots head into the clash with Wittenberg on a six-game winning streak since the loss on Jan. 20, pummeling the opposition by an average margin of 28.3 points per game. Not coincidentally, Wooster, which also carries the longest home court winning streak in the country (44) into Saturday's game, leads the nation in scoring margin for the entire season.
Leading the charge for Wooster is junior guard Antwyan Reynolds, who leads a balanced, efficient offensive attack with 16.7 points per game. The Scots also feature the conference's top rebounder, Bryan Nelson, who checks in with 9.2 rebounds per game.