#2 Indiana Wesleyan (13-3)- The Wildcats continued to show why they are the best program in NAIA basketball over the past month. IWU has gone 4-1 since we last checked in with them including a convincing win over a scorching hot Bethel team over the weekend. Coach Greg Tonagel reached his 400th win of his career over the break while his Junior star Kyle Mangas reached the 2,000 point threshold in a 39 point outburst against Bethel on Saturday. Things won lighten up for the Wildcats as they go on the road in an attempt to avenge last seasons road loss to Goshen and take on the defending Champs #15 Spring Arbor.
#4 Mt. Vernon (15-1)– The Cougars have gone unbeaten in the past month, responding well to their lone loss on the road to Marian earlier this season. MVNU continues to have a balanced attack but as we expected Jevon Knox has broken out as the statistical and emotional leader of this team. Knox has had another All-American caliper season averaging 20.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
#8 Marian (12-3)- Maybe the biggest news out of the league thus far this season is the loss of Junior Sterling Brown. It appears that Brown in no longer with the program as he has been removed from the team’s roster at semester. The Knights offense was primarily ran for Brown, look for Freshman Christian Harvey and Sophomore Hayden Langkabel to pick up the slack left by Brown’s departure.
#9 Bethel – The Pilots have been the hottest team in the NAIA thus far this season. The unbelievable play of All-American Trevion Crews and the breakout of transfer Grant Gelon have led to a potent back court duo. The two have combined to average 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists while shooting 53% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. The Pilots face off this week vs Grace and traveling to Huntington.
#15 Spring Arbor (10-6)- Spring Arbor has slipped recently going 4-4 over their last 8 games and dropped a pair of games at the hands of Michigan Dearborn and League foe Taylor this past week. The schedule just gets tougher as the Cougars will host #8 Marian and #2 Indiana Wesleyan.
#17 Saint Francis(13-3)– The Cougars have been active over the break in the sunshine state in two OT games. USF would split the pair down south but got back to their winning ways with a 27 point win over Huntington over the weekend. Chad LaCrosse’s team continues to have a balanced attack often playing 9-10 players a game. Sophomore Antwann Cushingberry has broken out as a court leader for the team, look for Cushingberry and Hollowell to lead the Cougars down the stretch.
Grace (11-5)- The Lancers have started league play going 3-1 thus far. They do have a tough road ahead though. The Lancers faced their first tough test of League play in Marian over the weekend as they battled tough but lost by 7. GC will face two tough road tests in Bethel and Saint Francis this week.
Taylor (9-7)– The Trojans have had a rough blow recently with the loss of All-League candidate CJ Penha during an OT loss to #9 Bethel. Since the loss of Penha the Trojans have leaned on Senior Mason Degenkolb to pave the way. TU was hit with the injury bug over the past week seeing their available player drop from 15 to 7 for their road matchup with #15 Spring Arbor. Josh Andrews’ squad was able to overcome the sickness bug and the loss of Penha to beat the Cougars on the road. The Trojans will look to continue their winning ways against #17 Saint Francis and #4 Mount Vernon this week.
Huntington (9-7)- HU has shown flashes of what they could be but has struggled to find league wins thus far. The addition of transfer Tim Abel should help with depth of the bench. The Foresters with have two more opportunities this week with games against #4 Mount Vernon and #9 Bethel.
Goshen (4-12)- The Maple Leaf’s have struggled mightily this season by have endless opportunity remaining. Their next two will come in #2 Indiana Wesleyan in a rematch of last years classic in which the Leaf’s came out victors and on the road at Marian.
Indiana Wesleyan – A strong showing against the Pilots keeps the Wildcats as the team to beat in the conference.
Bethel– BU has been playing at an elite level since the first game of the year, playing as well as anyone in the country. Their lone loss against IWU will keep them at #2 in our rankings.
Mount Vernon – MVNU has been solid all year long but has seen its offensive production slow down recently. Still look for the Cougars to be a national top 10 team all year long.
Marian – Marian started the year strong but with the loss of Sterling Brown they fall to 4 in our rankings.
Saint Francis (IN) – The Cougars continue to be solid at 13-3 on the year. A large win over Huntington helped get USF back on track after a 1-1 trip in the sunshine state over the break.
Grace – The Lancers have started strong. GC gave Marian fits over the weekend as they kept the Knights close all game but fell short at the buzzer.
Taylor– The Trojans have had an up and down year due to injuries. The loss of CJ Penha hurt TU over the break as they lost 2 in Florida. Josh Andrews squad has shown flashes taking Bethel to OT and beating #15 Spring Arbor on the road over the weekend.
Spring Arbor– The Cougars started the year strong but have struggled lately. Going 4-4 over their past 8 look for the cougars to try to break through this week with a pair of top 10 games this week.
Huntington – The Foresters have been well tested in the non-conference and they hope that will help prepare them for a tough conference slate. HU showed flashes against USF over the weekend but ended up falling by 27.
Goshen – The Maple Leaf’s continue to struggle as they are 4-12 and 0-4 in conference. GC will continue to see the best in the country with two top 10 teams this week.
GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK
8 Marian @ 15 Spring Arbor – January 7th at 7:00 PM
17 Saint Francis @ Taylor – January 7th at 7:00 PM
2 Indiana Wesleyan @ 15 Spring Arbor – January 11th at 3:00 PM
Grace @ 17 Saint Francis – January 11th at 3:00 PM