The two teams who are expected to contend for the Iowa Conference men's basketball title will go at it right off the bat.
Buena Vista, the defending league champion, and Wartburg, last year's runner-up, will go head-to-head tonight at 8 p.m. at Siebens Fieldhouse.
Both teams are perfect this season. Buena Vista is 4-0 after having just won the Nebraska Wesleyan Classic and Wartburg is 2-0 and fresh off a big victory over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Buena Vista coach Brian Van Haaften has a tremendous amount of respect for the Knights.
"They're 2-0 and they're a team that is in position to win this league this year. They've got everybody back, so they're more experienced. They added a couple of freshmen that will help them out. I think they're the best-coached team in the league. They play good defense and do a good job all the way around. I would assume they'll be at or near the top of the league."
Defense is where it all starts for Buena Vista. They held both opponents in the Nebraska Wesleyan Classic well under their season scoring average and will have to do the same tonight against Wartburg.
"I think we just have to make as many of their shots as tough as we can," Van Haaften said. "They have the ability to make shots, so we have to make it difficult for them."
"Rebounding is a big issue for us," Van Haaften added. "I think we have to try to at least contain Mike Pipho and Dan Schuknecht. That'll be a key."
The strength of Buena Vista's team is its inside game with forwards Scott Weber, Robby Beyer and Chris Petersen. That needs to be evident in tonight's game.
"We need to establish our inside presence in this game because I think that's where our strength is in our team," Van Haaften said. "We can't get away from that."
The inside game is also where Buena Vista has the advantage matchup-wise.
"I think size-wise we have an advantage," Van Haaften said. "I expect that they'll play some zone against us. We just need to get the ball in there and make them defend us in there."
‰ BV hosts two-time defending champion Wartburg in the women's game at 6 p.m. Both teams are a deceptive 1-2.
"They've played a tough schedule like we have," Buena Vista coach Janet Berry said. "They have the two-time returning MVP in Holly Mohs. She's a really solid player. One of the things she does so well is she gets to the free-throw line. She's really hard to stop. You have to decide are you going to try to stop her and let everybody else beat you. You have to try to put two people on her or she will score at will on you."
Buena Vista will have to do two things in order to make it a competitive game - minimize turnovers and shoot the ball better than they have.
"They're just really solid," Berry said. "They don't make a lot of mistakes. If you make a lot of mistakes, they're going to take advantage of that. We're going to have to limit our turnovers. Every possession is going to be pretty critical."
"We're looking for a game where we shoot the ball a little better," Berry added. "We've gotten to the free-throw line a lot and been strong rebounding, but we can't shoot 35 percent and win. That's not going to happen against Wartburg. If we shoot better we can make it a competitive game."