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Titans, Vikings Meet In Nationally Ranked Basketball Battle

Titans, Vikings Meet In Nationally Ranked Basketball Battle

UW-Oshkosh will host Augustana College (Ill.) in a battle of nationally ranked men's basketball programs on Saturday (Dec. 2). Tipoff between the unbeaten teams is set for 7 p.m. in Kolf Sports Center.

Both squads have won all four of its games this season, with Augustana College ranking second in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com and UW-Oshkosh 18th.

UW-Oshkosh is ranked in a D3hoops.com regular season poll for the first time since the 2007-08 season and the 68th time in program history. The Titans appeared in 10 consecutive D3hoops.com polls during the 2007-08 season, listing as high as 12th in the country on Jan. 7, 2008.

Augustana College has played in the national championship game twice in the last three seasons and four times overall. The Vikings suffered a 79-78 setback to Babson College (Mass.) in last year's national title game. Augustana College also advanced to the Division III final in 1981, 1993 and 2015.

Saturday's meeting will be the 11th in a series that began between the teams during the 1922-23 season. Augustana College has won each of the previous 10 matchups, including a 77-64 victory last season in Rock Island, Ill., and a 67-65 decision on Dec. 29, 2015, in Wisconsin Dells.

UW-Oshkosh, the only WIAC program to advance to the Division III Championship in both of the past two years, opened the 2017-18 season on Nov. 15 with a 74-68 home win over Benedictine University (Ill.), the 2016 national runner-up.

The Titans then defeated St. Norbert College by a 60-57 score on Nov. 21, marking UW-Oshkosh's first road win over the Green Knights in 10 years, before securing a 78-66 victory over Edgewood College on Nov. 22 and a 71-58 triumph at North Park University (Ill.) on Tuesday (Nov. 28).

Augustana College, which will be playing its first road game of the season, opened the year with a 73-64 neutral-site win over Heidelberg University (Ohio) on Nov. 15 in Crawfordsville, Ind.

The Vikings have won their last three contests at home, defeating Calvin College (Mich.), 80-69, on Nov. 17, Alma College (Mich.), 65-53, and MacMurray College (Ill.), 89-57, on Sunday (Nov. 26).

Augustana College also played an exhibition contest against the University of Illinois, falling to the NCAA Division I Illini, 96-62, on Nov. 22 despite shooting 45.7 percent (21-46) from the field.

Saturday's contest will feature two of the best defenses in the country.

Augustana College currently ranks 11th among the 416 Division III teams by allowing just 60.8 points per game while UW-Oshkosh lists 17th at 62.3 per contest.

The Vikings also rank 13th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.366) and 15th in blocks per game (5.5). The Titans' .373 opponent field goal percentage ranks 18th in the country.

UW-Oshkosh's five starters are all averaging at least 9.5 points per game.

Ben Boots leads the Titans with 16 points and 4.3 assists per contest. His 5.67 assist-to-turnover ration is 11th-best in the country.

UW-Oshkosh's Adam Fravert is averaging 14.8 points and 11 rebounds per game while listing 11th nationally with nine defensive boards per contest.

Rounding out the Titans' starting lineup are Jack Flynn with 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, Brett Wittchow with 11.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest and Charlie Noone with 9.5 points per game. Flynn ranks 16th in the nation with 4.25 offensive rebounds per contest.

Wittchow has shot 9-for-18 from 3-point range this season while Noone has knocked down a team-leading 10 3-pointers.

Augustana College, which has earned at least a share of the past three College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin titles, is led by four players averaging more than 10 points per game.

Chrishawn Orange paces the Vikings with 16.8 points per contest.

Pierson Wofford averages 14.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for Augustana College, which has also received 13.3 points and 3.5 assists per contest from Nolan Ebel, and 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game from Dylan Sortillo.

Wofford, whose rebounding average ranks 15th in the country, lists second nationally with 5.33 offensive boards per game.

Augustana College's Micah Martin, the tallest player on either team at 6-foot-11, has a team-leading seven blocks.

The Vikings have trailed for just 23 seconds this season as MacMurray College held a 2-0 lead over Augustana College on Sunday.

Augustana College has made 16 trips to the Division III Championship, including each of the past four seasons, while UW-Oshkosh has made seven appearances in the national tournament.