Here are the mid-week storylines in D3 men's basketball:
OWU the New No. 1
Ohio Wesleyan will return to play Wednesday night rested after a couple weeks off, and newly No. 1 in the BennettRank. The Battling Bishops (10-1) have had easy wins over then BR-8 Wooster, then BR-7 Illinois Wesleyan, but lost to BR-228 Hiram by a bucket. OWU plays Wednesday night against one of their toughest remaining North Coast Athletic rivals, BR-40 Wittenberg. In addition to home-and-away with Witt, the other tough remaining test for OWU is the rematch with Wooster, at COW on Jan. 27. The Battling Bishops are coming off a 96-72 win Dec. 22 at Transylvania.
17: The number of field goals made in one game this past Sunday by Joey Flanagan of Ithaca College, tied for most FG in a game so far this season. We suppose it's apt that Flanagan, a sophomore from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., (how did Marist let this kid get away?), plays for a team called the Bombers. Flanagan scored a career-high 39 points in the game, a 120-110 win over the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks.
13.5: That's the unbelievable assists-to-turnovers ratio for the nation's leader in the stat, Josh Farrell of Ozarks. Farrell has 27 assists and just two turnovers. The next best ratio in D3 is the 5.67 put up by Blake Ruiz of Nebraska Wesleyan. And consider that the best assists-to-turnovers ratio right now in the NBA is held by Memphis' Mike Conley, who is turning in just 3.73 assists for every turnover. Ferrell also is leading the nation in steals with a stat that sounds like a really good GPA, 4.0. He's not only turned the ball over just twice this season, he's averaging four steals a game.
30.4: That's the best scoring average in the country right now in D3 and it belongs to Nebraska Wesleyan's Trey Bardsley. Bardsley is shooting the lights out from outside, knocking down more than five 3-pointers a game, on average. His season high is 37 points, which he's done twice, and Bardsley nailed a season-high nine 3-pointers in a 97-92 win over Northwestern (Iowa) last month.
Scoring, but Not Winning
Here's the weirdest stat in Division III, perhaps. The two highest scoring teams in the country both have losing records. The craziest part of it is Greenville College, which is putting up 107.9 points per game, most in the country. Yet the Panthers are 2-9 because they're giving up over 115 points per game. Their games have to be fun to watch if you like buckets – in their opener they lost to Illinois Wesleyan 150-117! In another loss, the team with one of the best nicknames in America, the Webster Gorloks, hit 56 field goals, which so far is the record for most in one game this season in D3.
The second-highest scoring team in the country is Grinnell, which is averaging 107.2 points a game. The Pioneers, though are 5-6, and have been on the losing end of a 142-135 game (!), and a 118-115 score. (Grinnell fans are used to seeing some crazy point totals. Jack Taylor, who played for Grinnell from 2012-2015, holds the NCAA all division record for most points in a game from the night in November, 2012 when he scored 138 points himself in Grinnell's 179-104 win over Faith Baptist, including hitting 27 3-pointers.)
GAMES OF THE WEEK
BR-2 Augustana (Ill.) (12-0) hosts BR-5 Elmhurst (11-1) on Wednesday night in this week's marquee matchup in Division 3. Augustana had to come from behind in its last outing, but did so and managed to beat Wheaton 72-68 as senior Ben Ryan hit three of four free throws and Hunter Hill went two for two from the line in the last minute to give Augustana the win. Elmhurst is coming off a 78-64 win over BR-88 Illinois Wesleyan in its CCIW opener. Augustana is starting a treacherous part of its schedule. The team will finish out the week on the far north side of Chicago taking on BR-102 North Park University in a Vikings vs. Vikings contest on Friday night and then has another Top 10 test on Jan. 13 at home against BR-9 North Central.
BR-3 St. Thomas faces a possible trap game against BR-68 Bethel on Saturday. The Tommies (8-1) are on a roll, having won four straight. But the Bethel Royals are off to a surprising 8-1 start as well and are on a 14 game home win streak. This game, however, will be a road game for the Royals, and St. Thomas will be the toughest team they've faced, so the Tommies should be expected to win – though if they have a possible upset on their schedule, this could be it.
BR-41 Washington University of St. Louis (8-3) starts University Athletic Association play Saturday, Jan. 9, hosting BR-21 Chicago (9-2). Wash U is 4-1 at home this season, its only loss coming to Augustana (Ill.).
Not: BR-417 Washington and Jefferson (0-11), which is still searching for its first win.