By BRIAN LESTER
The Matchup: UF (7-3, 3-2 GLIAC) vs. Hillsdale (1-8, 1-4). 3 p.m. at Croy Gymnasium.
Series: Oilers lead 38-5. UF has won the last 20 games in the series, including an 85-64 win over the Chargers on Dec. 17 at Jesse Phillips Arena.
Last Time Out:UF crushed Toronto 94-42 for its fourth consecutive win. The Oilers shot 55.6 percent from the field and six players scored in double figures.
Marcus Parker led the way with 18 points and raised his career total to 1,163, 14 shy of being No. 30 all-time. Nathan Hyde finished with 16 points, the eighth time this season he has scored at least that many.
UF held the Varsity Blues to 35.3 percent shooting and did not allow anyone to score in double figures. The Oilers forced 17 turnovers as well.
Hillsdale fell 68-60 in overtime to Grand Valley State on Dec. 19. The Chargers scored only one point in overtime as they lost their third consecutive game.
HC shot 29.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Brad Guinane scored 16 points, Brent Eaton finished with 13 points and Tyler Gerber pumped in 10. HC allowed the Lakers to shoot 46.8 percent from the field.
UF Star Watch:Jason Wehri isn't a star, but he is a valuable player off the bench and it's worth keeping an eye on how the backup junior center plays in the post today.
Wehri and his frontcourt teammates did a nice job of denying entry passes on Monday. If they can take away HC's ability to establish itself inside, that will allow the Oilers to take care of business defending the perimeter against a 3-point happy HC team.
Wehri scored a career-high 11 points and pulled down 4 rebounds against Toronto. He already has 21 points on the year --- he had 52 combined in his first two seasons --- and I thought he showed just how great of a role player he can be in the last game.
He does so many things that go unnoticed, such as draw charges, set screens and battle for rebounds. He needs to continue to do those types of things for UF to be successful.
HC Star Watch:Brad Guinane will have to be at his best if the 3-point shots aren't falling for the Chargers today. The sophomore forward was held to 4 points in the last meeting against the Oilers and pulled down 4 rebounds.
He scored a team-high 16 points against GVSU and has grabbed at least 7 rebounds four times this season. Guinane will have to be productive for the Chargers to have a shot at the upset.
Guinane is averaging 7.7 points per outing and leads the team in rebounding at 6.1 per game.
Noteworthy:Happy New Year everyone. 2010 has started and the Oilers are back in action for the first time since Dec. 17.
UF has really grown as a team over the last four games and the fact that it has had nearly a week to prepare for the Chargers is big.
The Oilers will look to complete a season sweep of HC today, and that is important as they continue their quest for a GLIAC South Division title.
UF has been tough defensively during its current win streak, especially on the 3-point line, and it will need to bring another tenacious effort to slow down the Chargers.
HC loves to shoot 3-pointers as much as the powers of college football love to make excuses about why a playoff system would never work at the Division I level. The Chargers have made 73 treys on the year, the second highest total in the league, and the Oilers need to take away those opportunities to win this game.
The Oilers have done a great job of turning points into turnovers this season, scoring 192 on the year, and if they can get the transition game going again, it will be a long day for HC.
Don't bother paying attention to HC's record. It means little. I expect the Chargers to come out and play hard. They won't lay down. But the Oilers have done a good job of being consistent on defense from start to finish lately and that consistency will need to be present for UF to get the job done.
I will have more on the game as tip-off approaches and will have live updates throughout the game. Check back for post-game coverage as well, including audio from post-game interviews.
Ranking the Region:It won't be long before the NCAA Division II regional rankings are posted on a weekly basis. I am going to take a stab at ranking the region today, though, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it as well.
The top eight teams in the region will make the NCAA tournament. The regional is played at the home of the top team in the region, with the champion advancing to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.
I am leaving unbeaten Southern Indiana out of the rankings because the Screaming Eagles are not eligible for postseason play.
I will say this, for the first time in quite awhile, the region is wide open. I don't believe there is a clear cut favorite this season.
The records are overall marks as of Jan. 1, 2010.
The Top Eight:Quincy (11-0) , Kentucky Wesleyan (12-1), Drury (9-2), UF (7-3), Lewis (9-2), Wayne State (6-3), Northwood (6-3), Indianapolis (7-3).
There are several other teams you could throw into the mix and a lot will change over the next two months.
From the GLIAC, Ferris State (6-4), Lake Superior State (6-4), Saginaw Valley State (6-3) and Grand Valley State (6-3) are all potential contenders.
In the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Bellarmine (7-4), Rockhurst (7-4), Missouri-St. Louis (7-4)and Northern Kentucky (7-4) are all still in the hunt for a regional berth.
As always, the Midwest Region will be one of the toughest in the country.
Game Recap: Oilers 60, Chargers 42
Nathan Hyde scored 12 of his 22 points in the final three minutes of the second half, giving the Oilers the momentum they would need to secure a 60-42 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over Hillsdale Saturday afternoon at Croy Gymnasium.
The Oilers trailed 20-14 with 7:16 left in the first half but Hyde grabbed the momentum by the throat, hitting a jumper, driving to the basket twice for layups and nailing two 3-pointers as UF went into halftime with a 32-26 cushion.
UF (8-3, 4-2 GLIAC), now in second place in the GLIAC South Division, relied on its defense in the second half to pull away from the Chargers (1-9, 1-5) and complete the season sweep of HC.
The Oilers held the Chargers to 16 points in the second half and forced 21 turnovers in the game, including 13 in the second half. HC managed to make only four treys against the Oilers.
UF shot only 40.4 percent (21-of-52) from the field and got 22 points from Hyde. Hyde scored 18 of his points in the first half.
Aaron Robinson pumped in 12 points and pulled down 5 rebounds.
The Oilers have now won 81 consecutive regular season games at home and its overall win streak is at 43. The Oilers have won 21 consecutive games over the Chargers.Update: Oilers 60, Chargers 42 - Final
UF wins 81st consecutive regular season game at home and completes season sweep of Chargers.
Update: Oilers 56, Chargers 37 - 5 minutes left in the game
Jack Smith just threw down a dunk to energize the crowd as the Oilers have pushed their lead to 19. I thought this game was going to be much closer than the last one but UF took control of this game with great defensive play. After all, when you can limit HC to four 3-pointers, you are doing your job on the defensive end of the floor.
Update: Oilers 49, Chargers 32 - 9:31 left in the half
This one is over. The Oilers have completely shut down the Chargers in the second half. HC has two field goals and has scored 12 points since leading 20-14 in the first half.
Update: Oilers 44, Chargers 29 - 13 minutes left in the game
Even with a commanding lead, the Oilers are still playing hard, and that is a good sign. Jack Smith battled for two rebounsds and finally got a putback to fall. The Chargers are colder than an iceberg at the moment, having scored only 3 points in the second half.
Update: Oilers 39, Chargers 29 - 14:55 left in the game
Aaron Robinson has come up with a couple of big baskets and the Oilrs have played well defensively, giving up just one field goal in the first five minutes of the half.
Update: Oilers 34, Chargers 26 - 17 minutes left in the game
Aaron Robinson has the only points of the half for the Oilers as both teams have struggled to get going. The thing about the Chargers is that they have given everything they have and right now, it's still not enough to beat the Oilers.
UF just needs to keep playing tough defensively and put this game away here in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Update: Oilers 32, Chargers 26 - Halftime
Nathan Hyde has 18 first-half points. Yes, 18. The Oilers have taken control with good shots to close the stretch and solid defensive play. HC's problem is that it just can't get defensive stops. I'll have stats in a bit.
The Oilers have shot just 39.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 7 times but have taken the lead thanks to the play of Hyde. Hyde is 7-of-9 from the field and has four treys.
Hillsdale is shooting 40 percent from the field and is led by Tyler Gerber, who has 8 points. UF has out-rebounded HC 18-15. The Chargers have 8 turnovers and have made only three treys.
Update: Oilers 24, Chargers 24 - 2:36 left in the half
Nathan Hyde knows how to take over a game. He gets a steal and turns it into a layup and then drives into the lane for another layup as the Oilers tie the game at 24-24. Hyde has had a phenomenal junior season and just proved he can do a lot more than just shoot 3-pointers.
Update: Chargers 20, Oilers 18 - 6:08 left in the first half
Marcus Parker drives into the lane and draws a foul. He hits both of his free throws and the Oilers now trail by just two.
Update: Chargers 18, Oilers 14 - 7:45 left in the first half
The Oilers call a timeout and want to talk things over. They have gotten a little careless and can't hit shots. The Chargers have capitalized and have managed to build a small lead.
Update: Oilers 14, Chargers 14 - 9:47 left in first half
Just like the last time, the Chargers are keeping it close against the Oilers. UF has cooled off a bit offensively and the Chargers have been able to get inside for a couple of big baskets.
I expect the Oilers to crank things up defensively at some point here in the half and try to take control of the momentum. UF doesn't want a dangerous team like Hillsdale hanging around for too long.
Update: Oilers 14, Chargers 12 - 11:11 left in first half
Nathan Hyde has hit his second three of the game. The Oilers have done a nice job of making the extra pass for a good shot.
Update: Oilers 11, Chargers 8 - 14:29 left in first half
It's a 3-point party here at Croy. Aaron Robinson, Nate Hyde and Tyler Sparks have all drilled treys and Hillsdale has two treys so far. The Oilers have done a nice job denying inside baskets by the Chargers and I like the aggressive play of A-Rob early on.
Update: Jason Wehri is starting for the Oilers today. It's game time everyone.
Update: I am here at Croy Gymnasium for the first Saturday afternoon game of the season. The Oilers and Chargers are about to tip it off here and a nice crowd is on hand to watch. I'll have live updates of the game. In case you are wondering about the women's game, the Oilers won it, 67-58, and are now tied for first in the GLIAC South Division.