Photo provided by Wabash College Wabash sophmore Aaron Zinnerman averages 4.5 points per game.
Photo provided by Wabash College

Wabash sophmore Aaron Zinnerman averages 4.5 points per game.
There's plenty at stake for Wabash College's men's basketball team tonight.

With a win over North Coast Athletic Conference

rival Wittenberg, they could jump into a tie for second-place in the league standings - somewhere they haven't been for more than three years.

Then, there's that seven-game home winning streak they'd like to keep intact - a winning streak they started against the Tigers last season.

"We haven't been in this position for awhile, to be in second place and be tied for that," Little Giants' junior guard and leading-scorer Wes Smith said. "We're a lot more confident and have a lot more energy at home. It's always good to wake up in your own bed and walk across campus to the gym."

Wittenberg (13-2, 5-1 NCAC) meets Wabash (9-5, 4-2 NCAC) for a 7:30 p.m. game today at Chadwick Court.

The Tigers own a 29-7 advantage in the all-time series and have won 14 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams.

But the Little Giants won the last game - a 68-43 Feb. 18, 2009 victory at Chadwick Court which propelled them to their homecourt streak.

Wooster (6-0 NCAC) leads the conference with its perfect record. Wittenberg sits in second-place, while Wabash and Hiram (4-2 NCAC) are tied for third and a game back.

Wabash has already beaten Hiram at home and will try to avenge an earlier road loss to Wooster on Feb. 7.

But tonight's game matches two similar teams vying for similar spots in the standings.

Wittenberg has won eight straight games, while Wabash has won five consecutive games and seven of its last eight.

They have similar balanced-scoring offenses, too.

Wabash has three players - Smith (19.6 points per game) and seniors Aaron Brock (13.4 ppg) and Chase Haltom (11.8 ppg) - who average double figures. Wittenberg has two - junior Chris Sullivan (11.7 ppg) and sophomore Josh McKee (11.0 ppg) - who are in double digits but has all starters average at least 6.5 points per game.

But the Tigers have the advantage in other areas.

They rank first in nine of the conference's 19 statistical categories - including scoring margin (plus 10.7 points per game); defensive field goal percentage (39.6); three-point percentage (37.8); three-point field goals made per game (9.33); rebounding offense (40.2); margin (plus 7.5 per game); assists (16.13 per game); assist/turnover ratio (1.28); and offensive rebounds (14.6 per game).

Wabash ranks first in just three - free-throw percentage (76.8), blocked shots (3.93 per game) and steals (8.36 per game).

"Wittenberg has always been balanced," Wabash coach Mac Petty said. "Everyone has the potential to score. That's what I try to do with our team. We have two similar philosophies."

Since redesigning their new offense after losing at Wooster on Dec. 20, Wabash has averaged 78 points per game during its five-game winning streak. The Little Giants have benefited from having more scoring options and plays.

"We have more options of where to hit," Smith said. "We know if we call a play out who's going to score. We know where people are going to be at and where shots are going to come from."