The new year is upon us, and so is a new DII ranking for men’s basketball Power 10. Few games have been played since the last Power 10, but that was enough to propel a new team into first place. With Nova Southeastern’s two big wins last week, the Sharks became the third No. 1 team in the past three Power 10 rankings.
POWER 10 PREP: Look back at the previous Power 10
Indiana (PA), northwest Missouri and the Black Hills state remain close behind. Let’s see how the first ratings of the new year unfold.
DII Power 10 men’s basketball regular season third standings
(Note: Games through January 2nd)
No. 1 Nova Southeast | Previous: 2: The Sharks opened the second half against two very good teams at nationally ranked Florida Tech and Florida Southern, two teams with a 20-6 record so far. They answered the Test, winning both in utterly dominant fashion to improve the score to 12-0. The Sharks lead DII in scoring (107.2), margin of victory (29.3), and number of forced turnovers per game (25.4) while playing a top 50 schedule in DII men’s basketball. Oh, and RJ Sunahara might just be player of the year at this point.
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No. 2 Indiana (Pennsylvania) | Previous: 1: The Crimson Hawks fall through no fault of their own. Still a perfect 11-0, they simply didn’t play Nova Southeastern’s schedule, and slipped away from a spot this week. Make no mistake, this is one of the most dangerous teams in the land, and it all starts with defense. IUP only allows 57.6 points per game (second lowest in DII men’s basketball) with a best field goal percentage of 35.2%. This team is awash in scorers and kickers well and PSAC should rule the second half of the season.
Former No. 3 Northwest Missouri State: 3: The Bearcats dropped a game to Emporia State to close out the pre-holiday slate and rebounded with a solid three wins. Diego Bernard, who missed this loss, is back, and the leader of this team—he’s the Bearkats’ leader in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists—but there’s a lot more Bearcats to go on. Per usual, the Bearcats have managed to dictate the pace of their wins, outscoring opponents by nearly 20 points per game and shooting a DII-best 54.6 percent.
No. 4 Black Hills State | Previous: 4: The Yellow Jackets continue to check the big boxes toward the top seed in March. Coming out of the break, they faced Adams State and matched nationally ranked Fort Lewis on consecutive scheduled nights. Although the Fort Lewis game was postponed, it was still a perfect season. BHSU is 12-0 against a tougher 34th schedule, scores and shoots very well, and has one of the best in the ground in Joel Scott, who posts overnight averages of 21.3/9.6 so far.
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No. 5 West Liberty | Previous: 7: Even though the #6 team remains undefeated, the Hilltoppers are able to jump into the top 5 thanks to an 11-1 start against one of the toughest schedules in DII men’s basketball to date. They’ve gone win after win against opponents with a combined winning percentage of 0.607 and that’s pretty impressive. West Liberty scores in sets as always, averaging 99.0 points per game, and Bryce Butler continues to impress, averaging 23.8 points per game on an impressive 61.3 percent shooting and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game.
No. 6 Missouri St. Louis | Previous: 6: UMSL came out of the second half with a tough run against one of my first half surprise teams, Wisconsin-Parkside. The Tritons continued to win in explosive fashion, taking control to win 83-61. Now 12-0, this team has impressive balance, scoring 78 points per game on 52.2% shooting, the highest mark of 10 in DII men’s basketball. Already with several signature wins on their resume, the Tritons resume play in the GLVC on January 5th and are poised to reach the #1 seed in March.
No. 7 Lincoln Memorial | Previous: 8: The Railsplitters continue to put that early season loss to nationally ranked UAH in the back-view window, now their 12th straight winners. This team sits at 13-1, cuts opponents, scores 90.6 points per game and defeats teams with a 20.1 percentage per night. Seven players score at least 9.3 points per game, so it seems impossible to get one player out of the game, with someone so capable coming on. They also shoot 52.8% as a team, so, like Nova Southeastern and West Liberty, this team loves to score.
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No. 8 Augusta | Previous: 9: The national champion runner-up has been playing very well since a bump against a very good Virginia Union team. Six-time winners, the Jaguars do enough to win ballgames as the PBC game’s heartthrob comes close. With Tyshaun Crawford and Miguel Arnold up the road, this team is going to be hard to control, keeping the Jaguars at arm’s length for the rest of the way. The Southeast should be very interesting with the Lincoln Memorial and Augusta looming large in March.
No. 9 Central Oklahoma | Previous: 10 (Restricted): The Broncos came out of the second half with three big wins, capping off an 80-58 win over nationally ranked Emporia State. They are now 13-1 against the top 20 of the schedule and are tied atop the MIAA heading into the heart of conference play. With one of the best defenses in the division, the Broncos are fueled by a host of scorers, led by Jaden Wells who scores close to 20 points per game.
No. 10 Hillsdale, Colorado School of Mines | Previous: 5, 10 (tied) respectively: Hillsdale got a bit cocky after opening the second half with a stunning loss to Lake Erie. The Orediggers got back on track after an early December loss to Black Hills State in overtime. Both teams are very talented. They simply find themselves this low (imagine #10 thinking low) because of metrics like schedule strength.
First five (in alphabetical order):
- Bentley: The Falcons won by eight points in a row and came out of the second half with an 11-point victory.
- Cal State San Bernardino: The Coyotes are starting to separate themselves from the CCAA pack, and a win over Cal State San Marcos on Jan. 5 could boost them into the Power 10.
- Fort Lewis: Skyhawks 11-1, great start. It was really interesting to see how they handled the Black Hills State, but that’s temporarily on hold. With DII’s leading scorer in Akuel Kot, this team is one to watch.
- UNC Pembroke: The Braves came back from rest, and pulled off a big non-conference win over Columbus State. They are now back in Conference Carolina where they are going 4-1, and are looking to take over a very stacked conference leadership at the top.
- West Virginia: This team comes off a sweep at the YES US Virgin Islands Classic. Already with a two-point win over then-nationally ranked Vermont State and West Liberty down by one score on their resume, this team is off to a very strong start.
Team to watch: Northern State – I got some Coyotes earning Power 10 preseason recognition and opening the season against Northwest Missouri State out of favor. However, the Wolves got back on track, winning four in a row, including a closely contested win over NSIC rival and nationally ranked Minnesota Duluth on New Year’s Eve. This team is 10-3 for 10 with the toughest schedule in DII men’s basketball and could very well start moving up the national rankings this week.