Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri State are within reach of history this weekend inside Civic Arena.
Ben McCollum and the No. 1-ranked Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team will take the floor with both Griffons programs at the Hillyard Tip-Off Classic beginning this afternoon in Downtown St. Joseph.
The two MIAA men’s programs will be met by Northern Sun opponents Minnesota State Moorhead and Minnesota Crookston for a pair of weekend competitions.
With a pair of wins, the Bearcats (2-0) would tie a school and MIAA record with 42 straight wins, tying the mark set by Northwest between the 1931 and ’32 seasons.
Fresh off an opening weekend sweep of ranked opponents in No. 22 Daemen and No. 9 Southern Nazarene, a pair of teams with plenty of threats from the 3-point arc will be no easy task for the MIAA favorites.
“We’ve got our hands full. It will be just like last weekend,” McCollum said. “We’ve got our hands full. They’re good.”
Northwest has won 24 straight games in November, and Ryan Hawkins has contributed to that success as of late. He propelled Northwest’s in last week’s top-10 meeting with a school-record 44 points.
Northwest’s weekend begins at 3:30 p.m. against MSU Crookston.
Meanwhile, the Griffon men (0-2) will begin their second weekend of play against MSU Moorhead, a yearly contender to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Griffons trailed Southern Nazarene by six at halftime before falling 96-74, then gave up an 8-0 run with a one-point lead in the final two minutes to Daemen.
“We’ve gotta be ready to defend at a high level and defend the arc,” head coach Sundance Wicks said. “These are two teams that can shoot a good clip beyond the 3-point line.”
Western will be the nightcaps on both evenings, playing at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
The Candi Whitaker era also will begin for the Griffon women this weekend with a pair of contests against Concordia-St. Paul and Minnesota-Duluth. The Griffons’ lone action came in an exhibition at Iowa State last week.
“It’s early, so there will be a lot of mistakes,” Whitaker said. “For us, it’s about competing every possession and trying to win every possession.”
Western will tip off the season at 5:30 p.m. against Concordia-St. Paul.
The Fort Hays State women also will be in town for Classic.