The race for the North Coast Athletic Conference championship is all but over. No. 8 Wooster (18-2, 11-0) leads the league by three games with five games remaining.
The race for seeding and the right to host a home game in the first round of the conference tournament continues. Even with three losses in its last four games, Wittenberg (13-7, 6-5) is tied for third with DePauw and would host a game if the current standings hold up.
Still, the Tigers have a tough road ahead, beginning with a 1 p.m. game Saturday at Allegheny (9-11, 3-8). Ahead they have road games at Wooster and Hiram and home games against Wabash and DePauw. Wittenberg is 1-3 against those three teams with the only win at Wabash.
“We told our guys last night, ‘We’ve got five more games, and only one of them would be considered a huge upset if we won,’” Wittenberg coach Bill Brown said. “All the rest of them on paper are up for grabs. We’re in a position to determine how we feel about our season. Some teams, even if they play pretty well these last four or five games, it’s not going to change how they feel about their season.”
Wittenberg beat Allegheny 67-63 on Dec. 8. The Gators are struggling worse than the Tigers, having lost six of their last seven games, but four of those losses are by six points or less.
Allegheny is a dangerous 3-point shooting team. It has attempted more 3-pointers (450) than any team in the conference and ranks fourth in percentage (36).
“They live by the 3 and die by the 3,” Brown said. “They have the best ball-screen scheme I’ve seen, but it’s predicated on making 3-point shots. They have a lot of shooters. It’s not like they bang on one or two guys to hit 3s.”
Wittenberg has struggled offensively. It’s averaging 63.4 points per game this season, but has averaged 56 in the last four games and has scored 51 in each of the last two games. The Tigers rank eighth in the conference in scoring.
“I don’t know if it’s one thing,” Brown said. “We’re continuing to study our schemes as to the kind of shots our players get. I hope it’s not the coaching staff’s vanity, but we’ve graded shots fairly religiously, and we’ve determined we’ve gotten plenty of acceptable and good shots.”
Wittenberg at Allegheny, 1 p.m.