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Dec. 18, 2017MARYVILLE, Mo.
As 2017 comes to a close later this month, NCAA Division 2 basketball fans will be treated to a rematch from a game played 9 months prior.
No. 1 Northwest Missouri State University (10-0) squares off with No. 4 Lincoln Memorial University (11-0) Tuesday evening in the most anticipated game so far this season.
Not only is it a battle of top five teams, it's also a rematch from last season's Final Four.
The Bearcats topped the Railsplitters 79-67 in the first meeting between the two programs.
Northwest has defended its national championship and No. 1 ranking early this season with a stingy defense. The 'Cats boast the top scoring defense in the nation allowing just 59.7 points per game, and they haven't allowed more than 60 points in a game in nearly four weeks.
They also take care of the basketball better than any other team in the country, turning it over just eight times per contest.
Meanwhile, Lincoln Memorial's strength comes from its offense. The Railsplitters score an astounding 102.2 points per game, and put up 156 in regulation during an 87-point win over Mars Hill last week.
Northwest head coach Ben McCollum knows just how good this LMU team is, and says a key to beating them is to control the pace of the game.
"What they do is get quantity," the ninth year head coach said, "so they get a lot of possessions and they're able to take the shots that they want. The way we play is, we get very few possessions and we want great shots. So if you can force them to play your style of basketball, play in the half court, force them to take great shots and see if they can make great shots, then you've got yourself a chance."
The Bearcats carry a 21-game win streak into Tuesday's contest dating back to last February.
The game, which will be played at a neutral site in Owensboro, KY, can be heard on KXCV-KRNW at 6pm. Pregame will begin at 5:40pm.
Players to watch:
Justin Pitts, NWMSU - 24 PPG, 60.1 FG%, 5.4 APG, 2.5 RPG
Trevon Shaw, LMU - 21.8 PPG, 52.9 3FG%, 4.1 RPG