Saturday Showdown Between Rams and Vikings Selected as UMAC Game of the Week

North Central Men's Hoops will take on Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato on Saturday in a game that will help shape the UMAC post season tournament picture.
North Central Men's Hoops will take on Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato on Saturday in a game that will help shape the UMAC post season tournament picture.

ST. PAUL -- The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Game of the Week is a feature that takes place each week throughout the conference portion of the season with one contest being selected and highlighted as the UMAC Game of the Week.

This week's UMAC Game of the Week will take place on Saturday, February 7 in Mankato as Bethany Lutheran College hosts North Central University in UMAC men's basketball action. The Rams and the Vikings each currently own a 3-5 conference record and sit in a three-way tie for fourth place with Northland College heading into the weekend. With the top four teams from the regular season advancing to the UMAC Postseason Tournament, Saturday's contest may have playoff implications for both teams.

About the Vikings
Bethany will look to defeat the Rams for the second time this season and stay in the hunt for a UMAC postseason playoff berth.

The Vikings have been riding on the play of their freshmen in conference play. Guard Neil Eichten scored a career-high 20 points in the 78-65 win at North Central two weeks ago and has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games. Zach Brandts recorded his first collegiate double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against St. Scholastica and Brady Rose is third on the team with 8.3 points per game in conference play. Nate Chadderon is the team's leading rebounder.

Bethany is also getting contributions from their veterans. Junior forward Nick Sanborn is tied with Eichten for the team lead in scoring in conference contests with a 10.8 points per game average. Senior Luke Roddy, who'll be playing in his final home game, leads the team and is third in the conference with 3.5 assists per game.

About the Rams
North Central will come into Saturday's game in need of some momentum. The Rams have dropped three of their last four UMAC games since losing to Bethany Lutheran at home on January 23. If the Rams can get a win on Friday at Martin Luther and take the rematch in Mankato on Saturday it would be huge in keeping their conference tournament hopes alive. A win over BLC would be big as the Rams come home for their final four conference games of the season.

In a tight race for the final spots in the UMAC post season tournament, the Rams will rely on senior Luke Chafin who comes into the weekend as the top scorer in the UMAC, both overall (18.4) and in league play (21.0 PPG). Senior Jordan Harrell remains a big influence for the Rams averaging 12.7 PPG and 7.2 RPG in UMAC play while consistently drawing double team defensive efforts. But the biggest key for the Rams will be getting a third and fourth player to balance the scoring for NCU and allow Chafin and Harrell more space to work. Junior Josh High and freshman Travis Voigt are a pair of options for the Rams who stretch the floor with excellent three point shooting.

North Central has consistently shot the ball well in league play, firing over .450 from the field which is third best in the UMAC. But the last three games, all Rams losses, NCU has allowed their opponent to shoot at least .510 from the floor and over .500 from behind the three point line. Whether that is due to lackluster NCU defending or just being victimized by great shooting, it seems that this will be a key area to watch this weekend.

Game Notes
- Bethany holds a 4-2 edge in the all-time series and is 3-0 at home against the Rams.

- Senior Luke Chafin became the 21st player in Rams history to reach 1000 career points in the Rams win at St. Scholastica in January.

- Luke Roddy is BLC's all-time leader in assists per game with a 4.0 average.

- North Central's Jordan Harrell is currently 12th all-time on the Rams scoring list and is second in career rebounds.

- Bethany's Brady Rose has the best free throw percentage in conference play at 95 percent (19-20).

- Travis Voigt currently has the top 3 point shooting percentage in UMAC conference play, firing .529 (36-68) for the Rams.

- Bethany is pounding the boards in conference play leading the league with nearly 12 offensive rebounds a game (11.9).

- Head Coach Jon High needs five more wins to reach 100 victories at the helm of the Rams men's program.