For the second time in less than a week, the Simpson men's basketball is hosting Buena Vista. This time, it's win or go home as the sixth-seeded Beavers take on the third-seeded Storm in the first round of the Iowa Conference Tournament. Simpson earned the right to host a tournament game for the first time since 2011. The winner goes to Wartburg on Thursday.
Matchup: Buena Vista (10-15, 5-9) at Simpson (15-10, 8-6)
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Cowles Fieldhouse - Indianola, Iowa
Last time out
A game-tying lob attempt with one-tenth of a second left went off the mark as Simpson couldn't complete a big second-half comeback, losing to Loras 89-87 on Saturday. Sam Amsbaugh had 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Storm, who trailed by as many as 13 in the second half before taking the lead late.
A look at Buena Vista
The defending Iowa Conference champions had to fight their way back into the Iowa Conference Tournament, but did so with a convincing 100-84 win at Coe on Saturday. After being held to just 13 points in Wednesday's 74-57 loss to Simpson, leading-scorer Nick Clark cut loose for 33 against Coe. The senior point guard leads the IIAC in assists (136), steals (43) and 3-pointers (78) and ranks third in scoring (20.2 ppg). The Beavers boast the league's top offense, scoring 83.2 points per game.
The all-time series
Wednesday marks the 151st meeting in a series dating back to the 1921-22 season. Simpson leads the series 79-71, but Buena Vista has won seven of the last nine meetings. Simpson is 1-2 against Buena Vista in the IIAC Tournament, losing the last meeting 86-70 in the semifinal round of the 2012 tournament.
5 STORM STORYLINES
1. Tournament talk
After a two-year hiatus, Simpson is back in the IIAC Tournament. The Storm's No. 3 seed is the highest for the program since 2004 as they earned the right to host a game for the first time since 2011. The Storm are making their 13th appearance in the IIAC Tournament, where they are 7-12 all-time. Simpson is 5-1 at home in the tournament and 6-6 in the first round.
2. Stars struggle in Cowles
Simpson finished the regular season with the league's second-best defense, allowing just 72.9 points per game. Some of the top scorers in the IIAC struggled against the Storm, especially at Cowles Fieldhouse. The league's top four scorers - Dubuque's Andre Norris (23.1 ppg, 15 at Simpson), Central's Colby Taylor (20.3 ppg, 9 at Simpson), Buena Vista's Nick Clark (20.2 ppg, 13 at Simpson) and Loras' Justin Van Wambeke (20.0 ppg, 12 at Simpson) - were all held in check on the road against the Storm. Collectively, Norris, Taylor, Clark and Van Wambeke averaged 20.9 ppg overall but were held to 12.3 at Cowles Fieldhouse.
3. Turning it around
More than 400 schools sponsor Division III basketball, but only 13 can say they've experienced a one-year turnaround like Simpson. Simpson closed the 2015-16 regular season nine games better than in 2014-15, tied for the fourth-biggest turnaround in Division III this season. Seven teams have experienced a nine-game turnaround, and four have collected 10 more wins. Lyndon State is tops at 13 games and Green Mountain is second with 12.
4. Letting it fly at record pace
With the new coaching regime came a commitment to shooting the 3 ball. The Storm have made 223 3-pointers in 2015-16, crushing the previous school record of 165 set in 2002-03. The Storm made 8.9 3-pointers per game, third in the Iowa Conference. The Storm have been especially hot as of late, hitting 40 3s in the final four games. Ryan Skaar led the Storm with 48 3s during the regular season.
5. Turner closes in on 100 assists
Junior point guard Austin Turner closed the regular season with 96 assists. He needs just four to become the first player since Elijah Knox in 2012-13 to reach 100 assists in a season. He ranks third in the IIAC in assists and his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the league.
Brad Bjorkgren is in his first season as head coach of the Storm. The Simpson alum coached Urbandale High School for 27 seasons, winning nearly 400 games, nine conference championships and appearing in seven Class 4A State Tournaments.