Just one game into the CCIW men's basketball season and Elmhurst, North Central and Wheaton all have the same overall record, 8-4. However, the three DuPage County schools have taken significantly different routes to get where they are.
When the season started both Wheaton and North Central were ranked in the D3Hoops.com top 10 in the country, coming in at fifth and sixth, respectively. The conference preseason coaches poll had Wheaton second overall, only behind Illinois Wesleyan. The coaches ranked North Central fourth, while Elmhurst was seventh of eight.
Since then, things have gone south for the Cardinals despite returning three starters, including preseason All-America Landon Gamble. This season started poorly for the Cardinals when they got off to a 2-2 start, including a home loss to DePauw University by 13 points. By Week 2 of the season, they had fallen from the top 25.
After the team strung together a five-game win streak, it lost back-to-back games heading into conference play. North Central halted the skid in its first CCIW game on Saturday against North Park in a dominating 82-54 win. Coach Todd Raridon's Cardinals then fell at home Wednesday to Millikin 63-58.
Wheaton's season didn't start much better than its rivals. All five of last year's starters returned and the team was expected to be led by senior All-America Tyler Peters. While Peters leads his team in most statistical categories, the Thunder's play has been inconsistent.
The Thunder was ranked until the newest top 25 was released and for the first time all season was left out.
Wheaton also opened its conference schedule with a win but in less convincing fashion. The Thunder went on the road to play Millikin and was taken to overtime before it could pull away and win 92-84. On Wednesday the Thunder defeated Elmhurst 93-68.
Heading into their Wednesday night matchup, the Bluejays may have been the surprise of the conference. Last season Elmhurst finished a disappointing 6-19 and won only two games in conference. The team quickly passed last year's win total after a seven-game win streak. The team is largely led by underclassmen; the top two leading scorers for the Bluejays are both sophomore guards, Bryant Ackerman and Kyle Wuest.
Men's volleyball has been added as the 20th sport available at Benedictine for the 2014-15 school year. The newest addition to the athletic department will give both men and women at Benedictine 10 sports.
Men's volleyball is a spring sport, and next school year the Eagles will participate as an independent. There are only two other schools in Benedictine's Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. The Eagles are joined by the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Dominican, which also added men's volleyball for the coming year. A coach has not yet been named to lead the team.
Benedictine joins North Central, which added men's volleyball in 2013, as one of seven schools in Illinois to participate in the sport. Overall there are only 61 teams in the country competing in men's volleyball in Division III.