The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Rules Committees have recently approved different packages of rule changes as they often do every two years. Some of the rules are needed, some are interesting, and some are perplexing. All of these changes still need approval by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel which meets June 8.
The tendency is that changes approved by rules committees don’t all get approved by the oversight panel. I will point out many of the proposals being presented to the oversight panel and tell you why I do or don’t like them especially when it pertains to Division III.
But first, I wanted to point out the most glaring problem. Both rules committees approved different packages of changes. I understand why each gender has its own rules committees, but in basketball they are clearly not talking to one another. This is a problem.
In sports like lacrosse, the men’s and women’s game are dramatically different. In essence they are two different sports. However, in other sports like soccer the rules are nearly identical. Now those going to lacrosse games have known the difference in the two sports that has existed nearly since the creation of those sports especially as an NCAA sport. So fans of lacrosse don’t get confused by the dramatically different rules and regulations. Those in soccer do expect the sports to be the same and don’t have any trouble watching either game to understand what is happening or what rules are being enforced.
The problem with basketball: the game is intended to be the same for both genders like soccer, but the NCAA rules committees treat their sports like they are lacrosse. It is crazy and has been causing confusion for years especially in a sport that outside of higher-end Division I is played as men and women double-headers.
Many have complained or commented that the sports need to be more similar. Coaches understand that for fans to appreciate the game and understand what is going on during a game, the rules have to be similar. The women’s game added the 10-second backcourt violation two years ago and even adjusted their three-point line to the men’s line. Of course, the fact the women didn’t have a 10-second violation or a different three-point line also speaks to how these committees don’t seem to communicate with one another and pretend the other doesn’t exist.
That has to stop. This sport has to be either treated the same or made completely different. I am a proponent for the being treated the same with the same rules and regulations, though I am completely fine with two different sized basketballs. When fans are watching a game, it is better for them and the sport if they can then turn on another game in a different gender and understand what is going on. Imagine if you showed up to a double-header and one game was played under one set of rules and the other under a completely different set. How long do you think it would take you to fully grasp what was going on?
I could go on and on about this, but let’s move on to the approved recommendations, because that will bring to light even more differences. We start with the men:
The rules committee wants to continue reducing the number of collisions at the basket and has decided to follow the NBA and expand the arc under the basket from a three-foot arc to a four-foot arc. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. I do think the arc has helped understand if a defender is truly in a place on the floor they can affectively defend especially in a standing position before an offensive player goes up for a basket. However, I think if they keep fiddling with the rule it will never be something people grasp especially if the size of the arc is just going to change every few years (by the way, FIBA has the international arc at approximately 4.1 feet).
I’m fine with this being adjusted as long as we can leave well enough alone after this. It should also be pointed out that Division I men will go to the new arc this coming season while Division II and Division III will institute the new arc for the 2016-17 season (constantly repainting courts is money lower division schools don’t have laying around in their budgets).
I somewhat endorse.
Pace of Play:
There are a few changes in this category, so let’s break down each:
30-Second Shot Clock:
This one has been a long time in coming. For many people, trying to understand why men’s basketball had the longest shot clock in the entire game (including high school) was perplexing, but it was shrugged off since despite the women’s clock being at 30-seconds they didn’t have a 10-second violation like in the men’s game. I think people thought the two differences evened themselves out. Once the women added the 10-second call and didn’t change their shot clock, more people wondered why the men’s game was so “slow.”
The men’s game has needed to shorten the shot clock for so many different reasons they finally got around to experimenting with it (in last year’s non-NCAA post-seasons) and implementing it. Now there will be more possessions in a game and offenses will need to move quicker. It also allows scoring to increase.
Some have complained that shortening the time will lead to more bad shots, worse shooting percentages, and more turnovers. This is akin to warmongering. Last year’s non-NCAA post-seasons did not prove that as numbers did not go down (they went up in many cases, especially average scoring) and the same was said when the women added the ten-second violation. The change in the women’s game did not equate to dramatically more turnovers or worse shooting.
Here’s the key: these players are coming up from high school where there is already a shorter shot-clock, ten-second violation, etc. They are used to these rules and pace of play already. Furthermore, if a person is rushing to get a shot off with two-seconds left on a 35-second clock… they are still going to rush to get a shot off with two-seconds left on a 30-second clock. The only difference is five seconds of actual game clock haven’t elapsed. And for those who state this will hurt offenses that have long offensive sets – that is the EXACT reason this rule needed to be put in place. Offenses that run plays lasting 20 to 30 seconds are killing the game. And how in the world do these offenses work when the ball goes out of bounds or there is a kicking violation and there is less than 15 seconds remaining on the clock?! They go to a shorter offense. Seems they should go to that offense, period.
I am not sure how these will be adjusted for Division III, but according to the NCAA the proposal is to remove a second-half 30-second timeout for teams (essentially removing one team timeout per game) and strictly enforcing resumption of play after a timeout.
If reducing the number of timeouts in all games in all divisions including non-media games is the plan, I am all for it! There are too many time outs, especially the long-versions. I would love to see the number of 30-second and long timeouts switched so there are maybe four short timeouts and two long ones per game. Too much time is spent on the sidelines especially in media games!
And I would love to see the refs pick up the pace of play in general, but especially after timeouts and for substitutions. The new rules would have the refs warn a team and then one technical foul shot will be given each subsequent time a team is called for taking too much time. Sure, the technical shot will slow things down, but a coach and team aren’t going to want to lose points at the line, so that is going to be work itself out just fine.
Other pace of play rule changes:
- In media games if a team calls a timeout within 30 seconds of a media break or following the point when a media break would be taken, it becomes a media timeout.
Great! This will cut down on the number of times the game is stopped for “extra” breaks. (By the way, women added this rule last year to much success.)
- A coach can no longer call timeout when the ball is in play.
Perfect! Too many times a coach bails his players out or calls timeout in the course of play. Or worse, the coach tries calling timeout, but because the refs are paying attention to the game they don’t see or hear it. This removes all of those scenarios and puts the game in the player’s hands when the ball is in play. Terrific.
- Teams get ten seconds… only ten seconds… to advance the ball up to the front court.
Terrific! There are some exceptions to this (notably a foul on the defense), but overall this is a way of rewarding the defense for good play and not bailing out an offense who are struggling especially if they call timeout.
- Reduce the amount of time a coach has to replace a disqualified player.
I would love to see NO time allowed, but I will take this change. Too many coaches either stall or use the time as a free timeout. You can’t tell me a coach isn’t aware of who is on the floor that is in foul trouble (with some exceptions), so to give them time to figure out who they are going to substitute is ridiculous.
All in all, I endorse!
I played soccer throughout my life and in college and nothing drives me more crazy than flopping. If I was fouled and I went to the ground, it was because it was that hard a foul not because I was trying to bait the ref into a call. I consider it a part of sportsmanship and the fact the crap that goes on in soccer has made its way into basketball and gotten worse in the last few years is disheartening.
Now the NCAA is trying to crack down on it. However, the rule reads (according to the NCAA press release): “would allow officials to penalize faking fouls during the use of video to review a possible flagrant foul.” The good news: they can use a review to determine if someone faked a foul or injury. The bad news: it appears they can only do this when determining if a flagrant foul was committed. Other occasions when flopping is taking place isn’t reviewable.
I endorse, kind of – wish it were more aggressive.
- Using review to determine if there was a shot clock violation any time during a game.
Good! The fact this wasn’t reviewable unless late in the second half was difficult to understand.
- Making Class B technical fouls one-shot fouls.
I’m okay with that. Picks up the pace of play and doesn’t hurt a team if a questionable hanging on the rim technical is called.
- Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule for someone dribbling.
Eh… I’m not okay with this. I understand this is probably the result of instituting the 30-second shot-clock, but let’s not take something away from the defense who is pushing the issue while still giving the offense the ability to stall by simply dribbling the ball while standing still (or hardly moving) 40-feet from the basket.
- Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups.
I’m not okay with this. It goes to sportsmanship for me. I don’t want to see the pregame turn into a free-for-all I-can-outdo-you scenario. Not to mention the fact, people will regret this rule once a backboard, rim, or stanchion is broken and the game delayed or postponed to get it fixed. Pre-game is to get ready for the game, not for a dunking competition. Leave this rule alone.
Experimental Rule – Added Fouls:
If approved, you won’t see this until the 2016 non-NCAA postseason, but they will experiment with six individual fouls per player in the NIT and other tournaments. Not a fan. Leave it at five. It is six in the NBA for entertainment and protection of the stars. We don’t need to be adding another foul in the NCAA.
Now for the women’s rule changes (I’m leaving the most glaring to the end):
Advancing the ball to midcourt:
The women’s rules committee has recommended teams be allowed to advance the ball to the front court following a timeout in the final minute of regulation or overtime. You know, like they do in the NBA!
So if there is a made basket, a rebound, or a change of possession and a team immediately calls timeout without trying to advance the ball up the court… they can be rewarded by moving the ball 65-plus feet up the court and inbound it from mid-court with no time coming off the clock. You read that right. Teams would be allowed to inbound the ball from the 28-foot mark which is essentially in front of their bench near the scorer’s table. Committee members state it would add more excitement to the end of games.
I say NO! This is a huge reward to a team if they are unable to stop the opponent defensively (made basket) and takes away from the other team’s ability to play solid defense in forcing a team to go the 80-94 feet up the court all while the clock counts down. Is the committee crazy? This is too easy! Sure it adds excitement, but it also would encourage teams to slack off on defense, allow a tying or lead-changing basket, knowing they can just move to within 28 feet of their own basket without any time coming off the clock for a chance to tie or win.
This isn’t the NBA who has the rule in place strictly for entertainment value. I don’t love the rule in the NBA and I am going to HATE it in the women’s game if it’s allowed.
I emphatically do NOT endorse!
10-second backcourt time:
Similar to the men, the women are proposing teams not get bailed out of the ten-second backcourt count unless the ball is deflected out of bounds by the defense, is a jump ball call where possession keeps it in the offensive team’s hands, or a technical foul is called on the offensive team.
I like most of this. Again, most of these reward the defense for their hard work while not bailing the offense out for struggling. I do think resetting the 10-seconds because of a jump ball doesn’t do enough to reward the defense. Imagine what it’s going to be like if a team calls timeout with just one second left to get the ball over midcourt and now they have inbound it! That will make for exciting moments in a game!
(Remember, the ten-second violation is based on the shot clock, not a ref’s hand count anymore.)
The recommendation is that defenders should be allowed to place their forearm or open hand with a bent elbow on an offensive post player who has their back to the basket. Forgive me for thinking that was already the rule! I know two hands can’t be used and pushing off is illegal, but I thought the rules allowed the defense to brace themselves.
I endorse since I thought it was a rule in the first place.
The committee apparently thinks the fans are bored during games and want to allow music to be played during any dead-ball situation. Seriously?! You think playing music more often is going to solve fans being bored at women’s games? Furthermore, any dead-ball situation? That has trouble written all over it. I can imagine situations where the home arena tries to push the limits of the rule and psych out the opponent heading to the line to shoot free-throws – or between free-throws – especially late in a close game. And can you image players starting to ask for “walk-up” music for when they head to the free-throw line? There is nothing good about this rule.
I do NOT endorse!
Quarters vs. Halves:
And here is the big one. The women’s committee is recommending the game be broken up into quarters and not halves.
From the NCAA press release:
“The rules committee is very excited about the change to the four-quarter format for the 2015-16 season. We believe this change, along with the associated changes to the timeout and foul rules, will address flow of the game and physicality. The overall format will strengthen the connection of college basketball with women’s basketball globally.”
– Michael Shafer, chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee and women’s basketball coach at the University of Richmond.
“The game from high school to the professional and international levels will now be using the same four-quarter format, which makes sense globally.”
– Anucha Browne, NCAA vice president, women’s basketball championships
“The move to four quarters allows women’s collegiate basketball to align with all other levels of play and will be an exciting change for the future of the game. Having also been involved in the game at the Olympic and international levels, it is a positive move to see that all will be playing within the same basic structure going forward.”
– Dru Hancock, chair Division I Women’s Basketball Committee
“As the game becomes more global each year, it’s important that we start the process toward standardizing the rules. This is just the beginning of what I hope are many other changes to improve this great game.”
– Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach
On paper, I understand the idea of changing the game to quarters. It is played in quarters from youth through international and professional. The college game is the only one played in halves. I agree with the quotes above that the game needs to be more similar to the global game. For that reason alone, I understand and appreciate the change.
To clarify, here are the proposed changes:
- Four, ten-minute quarters.
- Teams would reach a two free throw bonus on a fifth foul in each quarter (no one-and-one shots) with fouls resetting each quarter except in overtime (as with current rules).
- Media timeouts would be reduced to just one per quarter under the five minute mark since there will be a media timeout between each quarter.
- Media games: each team would have four total timeouts (three 30-seconds and one 60-second) for the game, but one of the 30-second timeouts would have to be used in the first half (similar to current media-game timeout rules).
- Non-media games: each team would have five total timeouts (three 30-seconds and two 60-seconds) with four of them being carried over to the second half.
Again on paper, I have no problems with these changes. It addresses a number of things like too many stoppages in the game. This would actually flip the timeouts to giving more short versions and it would eliminate a media timeout (three for 20 minutes of basketball versus four or even five) and makes fouling a bigger penalty with the two-shot opportunity instead of starting with the one-and-one.
One thing I do see is that rules changes always get put in place considering the TV audience. Of course, that audience isn’t necessarily a factor in Division III or at least media rules aren’t a factor. So by changing the game to make it flow better especially with media in mind is a fool’s errand for just the Division I likes. What about the other 95-percent, as D3sports.com Executive Director Pat Coleman pointed out in a recent tweet, of teams and schools where that isn’t part of the equation?
The problem I have gets back to the beginning: the rule differences in the men’s and women’s game are already frustrating fans; this would just be the icing on the cake!
Should the game be played in quarters as it is played everywhere else? Why not. But don’t move to quarters unless BOTH genders move in that direction. The men should implement quarters as well. I would be all for it if the men agreed that the pace of the game and such would be better if it were played in ten minute quarters. However, unless they move in that direction and both genders adopt the same rule change, I am completely against this.
Imagine being in an arena or watching games online, especially in the post-season, and seeing the women playing four quarters or watching the men playing halves. You then turn on the other gender’s game or stay to watch the second game of a double-header and all the rules are different. When a team is shooting free-throws and the kind of shots is different. The clock doesn’t start at 20:00 or there is a “3” or “4” under period on the scoreboard. You can’t keep track of how many timeouts each team has been given. It is only going to cause more confusion. I’m a public address announcer for basketball and I am quite sure I am not going to be able to keep all the rule differences straight.
I also don’t agree that the women’s game needs to have gimmicks (because, be honest, quarters is a gimmick if the men aren’t doing the same thing) to get people to watch or appreciate the game more. The fact they want to allow more music to be played in dead-ball situations screams they don’t think the women’s game can solve its problems without throwing in gimmicks. Moving the ball up to midcourt is a gimmick.
Is the women’s game different? Yes, just as women’s soccer is different than men’s soccer. However, it doesn’t mean you need to have completely different rules in place to make it stand out or be appreciated. And don’t pretend those who love men’s basketball are going to all of the sudden fall in love with women’s basketball because of the gimmicks. Or that you will gain more fans of women’s basketball because the rules are different. Those who love NASCAR don’t necessarily appreciate or even like Indy Car or Formula 1 and vice versa. Men’s and women’s basketball are different because of the way the game is played – above the rim; below the rim. It shouldn’t be different because they decided to start playing by different rules… or gimmicks.
This was written on March 30, 2015 in the hopes Lauren could read a thank you note and hear the my admiration before she left us far too soon.
The Division III basketball season has come to a close and with it another memorable year of games. Two national champions were crowned including one who many expected to make a run and did it while staying undefeated. Another made an improbable run for a team that was supposed to be “down” but ended up shutting down others.
But what is most impressive … Lauren Hill is still with us.
The freshman forward for Mt. St. Joseph wasn’t supposed to see the start of the season (November 15). She wasn’t supposed to make it to December. Then Christmas. Now no one wants to know what date she can’t make it by, but rather find out what event she is trying to get to and see.
Lauren Hill captured the entire country’s attention back in late October when she was thrust into the spotlight and brought pediatric brain cancer along into the light. In particular, DIPG or Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. No one had ever heard of it. That’s because it usually affects children between five and ten and only accounts for roughly a 100 cases every year in this country. But here was an 18 year old who had been diagnosed with DIPG a year earlier and wasn’t expected to make it to the traditional start of the season – the average life span past diagnosis: nine to twelve months.
So Lauren’s coach and team decided to try and play early. Their opponent didn’t hesitate and agreed to move up the date two weeks. A nearby Division I school offered their arena for the game. And then the NCAA granted the early game.
That was going to be it. Lauren’s swan song. Raise awareness for an incredibly debilitating disease that has no cure, play in a college basketball game to achieve a lifetime dream, and eventually fade into the sunset while the rest of us tipped our hats.
But she is still here.
Lauren Hill not only made the start of the season, she played in a few more games and made a few more baskets. Hill not only made it to December, she streamrolled through Christmas and New Year’s and was with her MSJ team whenever she could. In the meantime, she became an honorary assistant coach and raised over $1.2 million before the close of 2014. There are jerseys bearing her 22 from teams around the country signed by Lauren adorning homes, offices, and studios like mine that not only raised money for childhood cancer research, but also remind us how one person can make a huge impact.
Despite her undying attitude to continue living, inspiring, and fighting cancer, no one expected the regular season to end with Lauren still in our lives. But there I was, sitting in front of a camera from my home studios participating in the NCAA Division III Basketball Selection Shows when host Kyle Binder asked me about Lauren Hill. I couldn’t believe she was alive to see the post-season begin. She was still alive the day Thomas More and UW-Stevens Point hoisted the walnut and bronze. And she is still alive as Division I marches to Indianapolis and Tampa.
At that incredible game on Nov. 2 at the Xavier Center, Lauren Hill was given the Pat Summitt Most Courageous award by Pat Summitt herself. It had never been handed out to anyone outside of the women’s final four. In fact, the board of directors for the United States Basketball Writers Association had unanimously agreed to give her the award then because everyone knew she wouldn’t be around to receive the award herself in Tampa.
We are a week away from basketball being played in Tampa.
So in that spirit, I thought it best to write a thank you note to Lauren Hill before she isn’t around to see it. Who knows when that day will come when her body finally has had enough, but I know if I wait any longer that day will come and go and the note will never have been written.
Thank you for being more than another person with cancer whose stories we all know.
Thank you for being more than an athlete who wants to raise awareness for an important cause.
Thank you for proving it’s more than a game that can rally people.
Thank you for taking a torch you never knew you were going to hold and carrying it further than anyone knew you could carry it.
Thank you for making something of your situation and inspiring others to do more than simply applaud.
Thank you for inspiring even your teammates to do greater things.
Thank you for inspiring those who don’t even know you to play a game in your honor, raise funds for a disease they don’t understand, give up a jersey possibly right off their own backs, do layups with their off-hand while dizzy to make you smile, to Play for 22.
Thank you for letting us see you fight. For seeing you change physically as you battle to stay alive, but not change mentally and emotionally. You inspired by allowing people into such a private ordeal.
Thank you for starting the basketball season with a game and a moment that cannot be outdone by any team, person, or championship.
Thank you for letting people realize there is more to life than personal matters. I can’t help but think of one of your teammates who was getting ready for her final season and injured her knee so badly her season seemed to end before it began. And then her courage and the training staff’s efforts to get her on the court to play next to you on November 2 because she wanted to be there for you. And all you could do was try and be there for her.
Thank you for having a voice and not being afraid to use it.
Thank you for keeping it all in perspective. How little did we understand when you corrected Brad Johanson on the air and said this wasn’t your final game… it was simply your first game.
Thank you for showing people you don’t have to be a billionaire, a politician, a movie or rock star, a professional athlete, or a member of a NCAA Division I powerhouse to have the ability to focus an entire nation – heck, the entire word – on a disease so brutal no one dared talk about it. Now everyone talks about pediatric brain cancer.
And thank you for being you. You have smiled through it all. You have laughed. You have even cried, but not because you are afraid of dying. No, you are more worried about your loved ones and how they will deal with your departure. You have made fighting cancer graceful and you have made living life inspiring.
Many people have quoted Jimmy Valvano when it comes to fighting cancer, as they should. We were all then reminded of that fight and inspiring words this past summer when Stuart Scott graced the ESPYs stage over 21 years later. My hope is you are still on the minds of people when the ESPYs air in July and the basketballs are tipped next November. My hope is when they think of Jimmy V’s and Stuart Scott’s inspiring battles, they remember yours as well.
You have lived the words of Jimmy V and Stuart Scott even if you don’t realize it.
Jimmy V: “Never give up. Don’t ever give up.” You haven’t.
Stuart Scott: “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you lived, why you lived, and in the manner in which you lived.” Boy have you lived!
Scott also said, “and when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” Lauren, when you have had enough, lie down. Rest. Let the rest of us fight for you. You have already inspired people to stand up and fight for you. And for that, I thank you.
The final public NCAA regional rankings were released Wednesday afternoon. The committees create one more ranking on Sunday, March 1, but do not release it to the public.
Need to know more about the regional rankings process and what they mean? Need to know more about the NCAA Tournament? Check out our NCAA Tournament FAQ.
The second record is Division III record, followed by overall.
Through games of Sunday, Feb. 22.
Atlantic Region – NCAA data sheet
1 Richard Stockton 20-5 20-5
2 William Paterson 19-6 19-6
3 Baruch 19-6 19-6
4 Brooklyn 21-5 21-5
5 Rutgers-Newark 18-8 18-8
6 Sage 20-4 21-4
7 Misericordia 19-6 19-6
Central – NCAA data sheet
1 Augustana 21-4 21-4
2 UW-Whitewater 21-2 22-3
3 UW-Stevens Point 21-4 21-4
4 Washington U. 19-5 19-5
5 St. Norbert 22-1 22-1
6 Illinois Wesleyan 18-7 18-7
7 Elmhurst 19-6 19-6
8 North Central (Ill.) 16-7 18-7
East – NCAA data sheet
1 St. John Fisher 21-4 21-4
2 Plattsburgh State 18-7 18-7
3 Hobart 18-6 18-7
4 Skidmore 17-7 17-7
5 NYU 16-8 16-8
6 Clarkson 18-6 19-6
Great Lakes – NCAA data sheet
1 Marietta 23-2 23-2
2 Ohio Wesleyan 21-4 21-4
3 Wooster 20-5 20-5
4 John Carroll 19-5 19-5
5 Mount Union 19-6 19-6
6 Penn State-Behrend 23-2 23-2
7 Calvin 18-5 19-6
8 St. Vincent 18-6 19-6
9 Hope 16-7 17-8
Mid-Atlantic – NCAA data sheet
1 Johns Hopkins 22-3 22-3
2 Dickinson 20-5 20-5
3 Catholic 21-3 21-4
4 Franklin and Marshall 20-5 20-5
5 Scranton 20-5 20-5
6 St. Mary’s (Md.) 18-4 20-4
Northeast – NCAA data sheet
1 Babson 23-2 23-2
2 Trinity (Conn.) 19-4 20-5
3 Amherst 19-6 19-6
4 Bates 19-6 19-6
5 Eastern Connecticut 21-4 21-4
6 WPI 21-4 21-4
7 Albertus Magnus 24-1 24-1
8 Bowdoin 18-7 18-7
9 Springfield 18-7 18-7
10 Southern Vermont 21-2 22-3
11 Wesleyan 17-8 17-8
South – NCAA data sheet
1 Randolph-Macon 23-2 23-2
2 Emory 19-5 19-5
3 Virginia Wesleyan 20-4 21-4
4 East Texas Baptist 20-5 20-5
5 Centre 19-4 20-4
6 Hardin-Simmons 19-6 19-6
7 Rhodes 18-5 18-6
8 Mary Hardin-Baylor 17-8 17-8
West – NCAA data sheet
1 St. Thomas 22-3 22-3
2 St. Olaf 21-4 21-4
3 Buena Vista 18-6 18-7
4 Whitman 19-4 20-5
5 Whitworth 22-3 22-3
6 Dubuque 19-5 20-5
7 Bethel 17-8 17-8
The first record is Division III record, followed by overall record.
1 Montclair State 24-1 24-1
2 FDU-Florham 24-1 24-1
3 Cabrini 22-3 22-3
4 Richard Stockton 20-5 20-5
5 Eastern 19-4 21-4
6 Baruch 22-4 22-4
7 Brooklyn 19-6 19-6
8 Rowan 16-9 17-9
1 Wheaton (Ill.) 19-3 22-3
2 Washington U. 21-2 22-2
3 North Central (Ill.) 20-4 21-4
4 St. Norbert 20-3 20-3
5 Wisconsin Lutheran 21-4 21-4
6 Chicago 17-6 18-6
7 UW-Oshkosh 18-6 19-6
8 Spalding 18-3 18-3
9 UW-Superior 18-6 18-7
1 Geneseo 21-3 21-4
2 New York University 20-4 20-4
3 Ithaca 21-4 21-4
4 Stevens 22-3 22-3
5 St. John Fisher 19-6 19-6
6 Cortland 20-5 20-5
7 St. Lawrence 19-6 19-6
1 Thomas More 23-0 25-0
2 Calvin 23-0 25-0
3 DePauw 23-1 23-1
4 John Carroll 22-3 22-3
5 Transylvania 23-1 24-1
6 Hope 22-3 22-3
7 Ohio Northern 20-5 20-5
8 St. Vincent 21-4 21-4
9 Baldwin Wallace 19-6 19-6
1 Scranton 23-2 23-2
2 Salisbury 23-2 23-2
3 Stevenson 21-3 21-3
4 McDaniel 23-2 23-2
5 Muhlenberg 18-7 18-7
6 Albright 19-6 19-6
1 Tufts 24-1 24-1
2 Amherst 23-2 23-2
3 Bowdoin 21-3 22-3
4 Williams 20-5 20-5
5 University of New England 20-5 20-5
6 Westfield State 21-4 21-4
7 Mass-Dartmouth 18-7 18-7
8 Springfield 19-6 19-6
9 Roger Williams 19-6 19-6
10 Eastern Connecticut 17-8 17-8
11 Norwich 19-4 21-4
12 Castleton 21-4 21-4
(The NCAA notes the GNAC did not cast a ballot in this week’s ranking.)
1 Texas-Tyler 24-1 24-1
2 Eastern Mennonite 21-2 21-3
3 Maryville 23-2 23-2
4 Randolph-Macon 20-3 20-4
5 Texas-Dallas 21-4 21-4
6 Trinity (Texas) 19-5 20-5
7 Lynchburg 17-8 17-8
8 Louisiana College 16-7 16-7
9 Millsaps 18-5 20-5
1 George Fox 24-0 25-0
2 St. Thomas 25-0 25-0
3 Puget Sound 20-3 22-3
4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 21-3 22-3
5 Whitworth 15-4 21-4
6 Luther 18-5 20-5
7 Bethel 20-4 20-5
8 Dubuque 17-8 17-8
This week the top half of the ballot was pretty simple, the bottom half… yeah… well… here we go again.
It is just difficult to really figure out who the best 25 teams are in the country this season. If I don’t have 40 teams I am considering, I am not spending enough time on the project each week. In other words, the more time I spend, the more teams I add to the list. Sure, it would be easy to save myself the time and the patience and just go with a short number of teams. However, this season I have had the bad feeling that I am missing out on someone or there is a team flying under the radar I just haven’t paid enough attention to. As a result, I keep looking around and finding others I want to at least consider – dive into their numbers and season and see what I find. Usually that leads me to teams like Penn State-Behrend, Southern Vermont, or others who have gaudy records, low SOS numbers, below-average conferences, and interesting out-of-conference results. Sometimes I wait these teams out a little longer; other times I go with my gut and add them. In all cases, I am waiting for my gut to be wrong (maybe I am a pessimist at this whole thing – especially this year).
This week, I certainly had 40 teams – leaving myself 25 teams to slot into the final ten spots. I decided to cut bait on some teams that are just not finishing the season well while waiting a couple others out. I left some teams out that probably deserve to be in; I left some on the ballot that probably need to go. It is a lose-lose scenario sometimes.
One thing I know for sure… in a week’s time… I suspect I will be throwing my entire ballot out and starting over. Does anyone really think the majority of the Top 25 is going to get through conference tournaments unscathed?
As always before we begin, here is a look at last week’s ballot:
1 – Randolph-Macon
2 – UW-Whitewater
3 – Babson
4 – St. Thomas
5 – Augustana
6 – St. Norbert
7 – WPI
8 – UW-Stevens Point
9 – Virginia Wesleyan
10 – Dickinson
11 – Marietta
12 – Albertus Magnus
13 – St. John Fisher
14 – Emory
15 – Johns Hopkins
16 – Ohio Wesleyan
17 – Elmhurst
18 – Chapman
19 – Whitworth
20 – Catholic
21 – Wooster
22 – New York Univ.
23 – St. Olaf
24 – Washington Univ.
25 – Penn State-Behrend
And now on to this week’s ballot with some explanations for some of the moves:
1 – Randolph-Macon* (Unchanged)
First undefeated ODAC season in program history and the first ODAC team to accomplish the feat since 2001 (Hampden-Sydney)… impressive! Now they have to get through the ODAC tournament at the Salem Civic Center. A gauntlet that has tripped up many a top-seed… including the Yellow Jackets just last year.
2 – UW-Whitewater (Unchanged)
3 – Babson (Unchanged)
4 – Augustana (Up 1)
5 – St. Thomas (Down 1)
I thought about moving the Tommies down even further than just one spot, but I just can’t move them below some teams right now. I am worried about consistency from St. Thomas. You can’t go and blow the socks off a team like St. Olaf on the road and then roll over against Bethel at home if you are really that good this year and want to make a decent run in the NCAA tournament. The advantage UST has is they will probably be on the road at least to start the NCAA tourney (women get rights to host first weekend), but that loss could have also cost St. Thomas a hosting chance at hosting the second weekend.
6 – St. Norbert (Unchanged)
Another undefeated season in the MWC. Wow. This is a really good team, it appears. But they are really going to have to prove themselves in the NCAA tournament because I just don’t see a way for them to avoid a major Central Region team in the first weekend.
7 – WPI* (Unchanged)
8 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)
9 – Virginia Wesleyan (Unchanged)
If there is one thing I will say about the Marlins… who have they really beaten? They finished second in the ODAC and got beat by Randolph-Macon in some very good games, but I am starting to get nervous that Virginia Wesleyan doesn’t have a signature win this season. Are the Marlins overrated? Just stuff I ponder, but sure I believe just yet.
10 – Marietta (Up 1)
11 – Albertus Magnus (Up 1)
Despite a really close call to Emmanuel (buzzer beater to force overtime and then win going away), I just don’t have anywhere else to put other teams. Those now below AMC didn’t seem to deserve being ahead of the Falcons. I really hope AMC doesn’t trip in the conference tournament risking the chance to make the NCAA tournament, because I think the Falcons could be dangerous. I just don’t know what kind of match-ups are in store for AMC.
12 – Dickinson (Down 3)
The Red Devils are worrying me. They aren’t finishing the season strong. I still think they make the NCAA tournament even if they lose in the semifinals against Franklin & Marshall* on Friday, but the way Dickinson lost to F&M on Saturday is a little concerning. That’s three losses in the last five games with a win over Johns Hopkins in the middle. I probably should have moved Dickinson down a little more. Here’s hoping the talented senior class decides this is not how their careers is going to end – stumbling to the finish.
13 – Emory (Up 1)
14 – Johns Hopkins* (Up 1)
I debated about flipping the Blue Jays and Dickinson, but decided the recent win by Dickinson was good enough to not make that move. However, Johns Hopkins may very well be the better team of the two. The blue-collar, bring a lunch pail to work mentality to this team doesn’t overwhelm you when you watch them, but they get the job done. Hopkins is one of those dark horses who might surprise in a few weeks.
15 – Ohio Wesleyan (Up 1)
16 – Whitworth (Up 3)
17 – St. John Fisher (Down 4)
Not the time of the year to start losing! The Cardinals lost to Alfred and Stevens in the last three games – all in the past week – but luckily had such a commanding lead in the Empire 8 it didn’t cost them. However, it might be hard to get the right match-ups in the NCAA tournament now and if St. John Fisher loses again they might be out as a host the first weekend! Talk about all that hard work being for nothing. Hopefully SJF takes flight again and finds their mojo!
18 – Wooster (Up 3)
19 – Washington Univ.* (Up 5)
Ok… good weekend for the Bears. Beat Brandeis and New York Univ.* to make up for the lousy trip to New York City last month. Despite a crazy season, Washington Univ. is positioned to win the UAA title and get the automatic bid to the tournament. They just have to get past Chicago* which handed them one of their worst losses of the season. The one thing going for Wash U – Chicago has to go to St. Louis. It will be a mini-conference title game between the Bears and Maroons with Emory hoping for just the right outcome (along with a win) to take the title from both of them!
20 – St. Mary’s (Md.) (Unranked)
Here’s one of those teams that might have been flying under the radar. I took a long, hard look at the Seahawks this week. They are 20-4 right now (producing their sixth 20-win season in the last seven years), they are on a 12-game winning streak, and they haven’t had a “close” game (less than double-digits) since a five point win over Mary Washington on February 4. They may not have a great SOS (thanks to losing two games and a lousy bottom part of the conference), but they are also markedly improved from the team that lost to Eastern Mennonite and Delaware Valley* to start the season. Could I be buying in a little too much? Maybe. But this team could create some nasty match-up problems in the NCAA tournament. Who knows… maybe the year no one was paying attention to SMC was the perfect year for them.
21 – Catholic* (Down 1)
I can’t say I was surprised Catholic lost to Scranton* on the road. Scranton needed that win badly and playing in the Long Center is anything but easy. It did bring to the end a 15 game winning streak. The Landmark Conference tournament still goes through Washington, DC and hopefully CUA realizes that loss is the perfect jolt to their season.
22 – Southern Vermont (Unranked)
Hmm… could the Mountaineers be one of the most underrated teams in the Northeast? Ok, I might be going a little too far, but considering Southern Vermont hasn’t lost since a close game against Bates on January 3 and has gone undefeated in a conference they hadn’t won more than 10 games in … ever … SVC may be a team to watch. They once again started the season with a win over Williams, but hard to read them with a ho-hum out-of-conference schedule. But as I have said in the past, I look at win streaks this time of year with a little extra credit… 15-straight for the Mountaineers means they haven’t beaten themselves just yet.
23 – Penn State-Behrend (Up 2)
24 – St. Olaf (Down 1)
I am tried not to jump to too many conclusions with the Oles lost to St. Thomas. Yes, it was on their home court and, yes, it wasn’t close. Those are all big concerns for me. However, St. Olaf is 21-4 and that is a significant mark for this squad. Maybe I should be cutting bait like I did last time, however I also regretted that move a week later. Let’s see how St. Olaf does in the MIAC tournament.
25 – Elmhurst (Down 8)
They played one game this week and got blown out on the road at Illinois Wesleyan. I know the CCIW is tough this season, but at some point you have to stand up and at least be competitive in a game you had a week to prepare for! Those are all the reasons I probably should have dropped the Blue Jays from my ballot. The only reason I didn’t… I just couldn’t argue anyone else ahead of them right now. Or I could, but I wasn’t confident in them either. Rematch with IWU (at Augustana) is coming this week.
Chapman (Previously 18)
Chapman is struggling to keep it together, it would appear. They have lost four of their last eight in groupings of two-at-a-time and have lost two of those games to 9-15 Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer. I know the SCIAC is “interesting” this season, but Chapman might be running out of gas at the wrong time in the season. And watch out… a red-hot Caltech team is coming to town Tuesday night. I just can’t keep riding on the Panthers bandwagon right now.
New York Univ.* (Previously 22)
Guh. Talk about not matching what I have seen in person. The Violets jumped into the national conversation with a pretty darn good weekend at home against Wash U* and Chicago*, but just haven’t been able to keep up the pressure since including losing badly to Wash U (97-75) and Chicago (77-60) on the road this past weekend. I think NYU is a dangerous team if they make the NCAA tournament. The problem is I think they just ended any hope of playing in the NCAAs with this past weekend’s results.
* – teams I have seen in person versus most who I have seen on video.
Albertus Magnus · Augustana · Babson · basketball · Catholic · CCIW · Chapman · Chicago · d3hoops · Dave McHugh · Dickinson · Division III · Elmhurst · Emory · Hoopsville · Illinois Wesleyan · Johns Hopkins · Marietta · NCAA · NCAA Tournament · Ohio Wesleyan · Penn State-Behrend · Randolph-Macon · Southern Vermont · St. Mary's (Md.) · St. Norbert · St. Olaf · St. Thomas · Top 25 · Top 25 Ballot · UW-Stevens Point · UW-Whitewater · Virginia Wesleyan · Washington U. · Whitworth · WIAC · Wooster · WPI
If you’ve missed it, the men’s region formerly known as the Midwest was renamed the Central Region this season, and the WIAC was moved into that region from the West. Other conferences moved, primarily between the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions, for both men and women. Need to know more about the regional rankings process and what they mean? Need to know more about the NCAA Tournament? Check out our NCAA Tournament FAQ.
The second record is Division III record, followed by overall.
Through games of Sunday, Feb. 15.
Atlantic Region – NCAA data sheet
1 Richard Stockton 19-5 19-5
2 William Paterson 19-5 19-5
3 Baruch 18-5 18-5
4 Brooklyn 19-5 19-5
5 Rutgers-Newark 16-8 16-8
6 Sage Colleges 18-4 19-4
7 Staten Island 17-7 17-7
Central – NCAA data sheet
1 Augustana (IL) 20-4 20-4
2 Wis.-Whitewater 19-2 20-3
3 Wis.-Stevens Point 20-4 20-4
4 Washington-St. Louis 17-5 17-5
5 Elmhurst 19-5 19-5
6 St. Norbert 21-1 21-1
7 Ill. Wesleyan 17-7 17-7
8 North Central (IL) 15-7 17-7
East – NCAA data sheet
1 St. John Fisher 20-2 20-2
2 Plattsburgh St. 16-6 16-6
3 NYU 16-6 16-6
4 Hobart 16-6 16-7
5 Skidmore 16-7 16-7
6 Clarkson 17-5 18-5
Great Lakes – NCAA data sheet
1 Marietta 21-2 21-2
2 Ohio Wesleyan 19-4 19-4
3 Wooster 18-5 18-5
4 Mount Union 18-5 18-5
5 John Carroll 17-5 17-5
6 Case 12-6 14-7
7 Calvin 16-5 17-6
8 Penn St.-Behrend 21-2 21-2
9 Hope 14-7 15-8
Mid-Atlantic – NCAA data sheet
1 Johns Hopkins 20-3 20-3
2 Dickinson 19-4 19-4
3 Catholic 20-2 20-3
4 Frank. & Marsh. 19-4 19-4
5 Scranton 18-5 18-5
6 St. Mary’s (MD) 16-4 18-4
Northeast – NCAA data sheet
1 Babson 21-2 21-2
2 Bates 18-5 18-5
3 Trinity (CT) 18-4 19-5
4 Amherst 18-6 18-6
5 Eastern Conn. St. 19-4 19-4
6 WPI 19-4 19-4
7 Bowdoin 17-6 17-6
8 Springfield 16-7 16-7
9 Albertus Magnus 21-1 21-1
10 Rhode Island Col. 16-7 16-7
11 Southern Vt. 19-2 20-3
South – NCAA data sheet
1 Randolph-Macon 21-2 21-2
2 Emory 17-5 17-5
3 East Tex. Baptist 19-4 19-4
4 Va. Wesleyan 18-4 19-4
5 Centre 17-4 18-4
6 Hardin-Simmons 17-6 17-6
7 Louisiana College 13-5 13-9
8 Mary Hardin-Baylor 16-7 16-7
West – NCAA data sheet
1 St. Thomas (MN) 20-2 20-2
2 St. Olaf 20-3 20-3
3 Buena Vista 17-5 17-6
4 Dubuque 18-4 19-4
5 Whitman 17-4 18-5
6 Whitworth 20-3 20-3
7 Chapman 13-3 18-3
The first record is in-region record, followed by overall record.
1 Montclair State 23-1 23-1
2 FDU-Florham 22-1 22-1
3 Cabrini 21-3 21-3
4 Richard Stockton 20-4 20-4
5 Eastern 17-4 19-4
6 Baruch 19-4 19-4
7 Rowan 16-7 17-7
8 Brooklyn 18-5 18-5
1 Wheaton (Illinois) 18-3 21-3
2 Washington U in St. Louis 19-2 20-2
3 North Central (Illinois) 19-4 20-4
4 St. Norbert 19-3 19-3
5 Wisconsin-Oshkosh 18-4 19-4
6 Wisconsin Lutheran 19-4 19-4
7 Chicago 15-6 16-6
8 Wisconsin-Superior 17-5 17-6
9 Spalding 16-3 16-3
1 New York University 20-2 20-2
2 SUNY Geneseo 18-3 18-4
3 Ithaca 19-4 19-4
4 Stevens 19-3 19-3
5 SUNY Cortland 19-4 19-4
6 St. John Fisher 17-5 17-5
7 St. Lawrence 18-5 18-5
1 Thomas More 21-0 23-0
2 Calvin 20-0 22-0
3 DePauw 22-1 22-1
4 John Carroll 20-3 20-3
5 Hope 21-2 21-2
6 Transylvania 21-1 22-1
7 Saint Vincent 20-3 20-3
8 Baldwin Wallace 18-5 18-5
9 Ohio Northern 18-5 18-5
1 Salisbury 22-1 22-1
2 Scranton 22-2 22-2
3 Stevenson 20-2 20-2
4 McDaniel 22-1 22-1
5 Muhlenberg 16-6 16-6
6 Albright 17-6 17-6
1 Tufts 23-1 23-1
2 Amherst 21-2 21-2
3 Bowdoin 20-3 21-3
4 Williams 19-5 19-5
5 University of New England 19-4 19-4
6 Springfield 18-6 18-6
7 Massachusetts Dartmouth 17-6 17-6
8 Westfield State 19-4 19-4
9 Eastern Connecticut State 15-8 15-8
10 Roger Williams 17-6 17-6
11 Norwich 17-4 19-4
12 Castleton 20-4 20-4
1 Texas-Tyler 23-1 23-1
2 Eastern Mennonite 19-2 19-3
3 Randolph-Macon 18-3 18-4
4 Maryville (Tennessee) 21-2 21-2
5 Texas-Dallas 19-4 19-4
6 Lynchburg 16-7 16-7
7 Trinity (Texas) 18-5 19-5
8 Louisiana College 16-5 16-5
9 Piedmont 18-5 18-5
1 George Fox 22-0 23-0
2 St. Thomas (Minnesota) 23-0 23-0
3 Whitworth 14-3 20-3
4 Puget Sound 18-3 20-3
5 Luther 17-4 19-4
6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 19-3 20-3
7 Bethel (Minnesota) 19-3 19-4
8 Whitman 12-6 15-8