Wittenberg has lost its entire front line, so Scranton's competition in the Division III championships next spring should come from Ashland and Muskingum of Ohio, Augustana of Illinois, Albany ( N.Y.) State and Monmouth of New Jersey. Lyndon (Vt.) State, whose star, Ricky Sutton, has averaged 35.2 points a game for two years, could be a dark horse.
Defending NCAA Division II champion Tennessee- Chattanooga has moved up a category to join the big boys this season. That would seem to leave the No. 1 spot open to either Towson (Md.) State, which has four of its six high scorers returning from a 27-3 team, or North Dakota, which has three of the top five players back from a 26-4 squad that had the fifth-best defense in the division.
They could be challenged by Sacred Heart of Bridgeport, Conn. and its stars, Hector Olivencia, who averaged 20.8 a game, and Andre Means, a 6'9" center who was the division's leading rebounder.
The NAIA tournament is 41 years old this year, but last season's champion, Texas Southern, will not take part. It has moved into the NCAA's Division I. Newberry ( S.C.) College, which was 36-1 last year, would have been a heavy favorite for the title had Coach Neild Gordon not departed for Winthrop College and taken three players with him.
Gardner-Webb of North Carolina was ranked No. 2 last season and had a 99-point scoring average. Four starters have returned, and Coach Eddie Holbrook says his offense looks better than ever. His team's chances for the NAIA title look good, too.
Other contenders should be Grand Valley State ( Mich.), Fairmont State (W. Va.) and Winston-Salem State.