D3hoops.com Daily Dose | The daily dish on Division III basketball

JOL_2532The first NCAA regional rankings have been released this afternoon. Further rankings will follow on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24, along with one on Sunday, Feb. 28, which we do not get to see.

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 first record is Division III record, followed by overall.
Through games of Sunday, Feb. 7.

The NCAA has updated its data sheets. However, sometimes they disappear so if you really want a copy, you might want to go through and save the PDF files.

Men’s rankings
Atlantic Region – NCAA data sheet

1 Stockton 17-4 17-5
2 Staten Island 17-4 17-5
3 Brooklyn 17-5 17-5
4 New Jersey City 14-7 14-7
5 DeSales 15-5 15-6
6 Rutgers-Newark 16-6 16-6
7 Delaware Valley 14-5 16-5

Central – NCAA data sheet

1 Benedictine  22-0 22-0
2 Augustana  21-1 21-1
3 St. Norbert 18-2 18-2
4 North Central (Ill.) 15-6 16-6
5 Elmhurst 19-3 19-3
6 Aurora 16-4 17-4
7 Chicago 13-6 14-6
8 Carroll 15-4 15-4

East – NCAA data sheet

1 Plattsburgh State 17-3 17-3
2 Rochester 14-5 14-6
3 SUNY Geneseo 14-4 14-5
4 Oswego State 14-6 14-6
5 SUNY Oneonta 13-7 13-7
6 St. John Fisher 15-5 15-5

Great Lakes – NCAA data sheet

1 John Carroll 21-0 21-0
2 Marietta 19-2 19-2
3 Ohio Wesleyan 19-2 19-2
4 Hope 17-1 19-2
5 Alma 16-5 16-5
6 Wooster 15-5 16-5
7 Mount Union 14-5 15-5
8 Hiram 15-5 15-6
9 Trine 14-6 15-6

Mid-Atlantic – NCAA data sheet

1 Christopher Newport 20-1 20-1
2 Susquehanna 16-2 18-2
3 Salisbury 16-5 16-5
4 Catholic 16-5 16-5
5 Franklin and Marshall 18-3 18-3
6 Scranton 15-5 16-5

Northeast – NCAA data sheet

1 Amherst 18-4 18-4
2 Trinity (Conn.) 15-6 16-6
3 Tufts 17-5 17-5
4 Babson 15-5 15-5
5 Wesleyan  18-4 18-4
6 WPI 16-5 16-5
7 Eastern Connecticut 14-7 14-7
8 MIT 16-4 16-4
9 Johnson & Wales  19-1 20-1
10 Southern Vermont 18-3 18-3
11 Nichols 18-3 18-3

South – NCAA data sheet

1 Emory 14-5 15-5
2 Texas Lutheran 17-5 17-5
3 Virginia Wesleyan 15-6 15-6
4 Lynchburg 16-5 16-5
5 LaGrange 12-5 15-6
6 East Texas Baptist 16-4 18-4
7 Roanoke 16-4 17-4
8 N.C. Wesleyan 11-4 15-6

West – NCAA data sheet

1 St. Thomas  19-1 19-1
2 Whitworth 19-1 20-1
3 Whitman 17-3 18-3
4 Concordia-Moorhead 14-6 14-7
5 Bethel  14-6 14-6
6 St. John’s  15-5 16-5
7 Dubuque 12-6 15-6

Women’s

The first record is Division III record, followed by overall record.

Atlantic

1 Stockton 18-4 18-4
2 Rowan 19-3 19-3
3 Montclair State 16-6 16-6
4 DeSales 16-5 16-5
5 Sage 17-4 17-4
6 Gwynedd Mercy 17-4 17-4
7 FDU-Florham 15-5 16-5
8 Manhattanville 14-6 14-6

Central

1 UW-Stevens Point 16-5 16-5
2 Washington U.  16-4 16-4
3 UW-River Falls 16-4 17-4
4 UW-Oshkosh 16-4 17-4
5 UW-Whitewater 16-4 17-4
6 Concordia (Wis.) 17-3 17-4
7 Wheaton (Ill.) 16-5 16-5
8 Westminster (Mo.) 15-2 16-4
9 St. Norbert 16-4 16-4

East

1 Rochester  17-3 17-3
2 New York University 17-3 17-3
3 SUNY Geneseo 14-4 14-5
4 Stevens 15-5 15-5
5 St. John Fisher 17-2 17-3
6 SUNY New Paltz 15-5 15-5
7 Clarkson 17-4 17-4
8 Rochester Tech 17-4 17-4

Great Lakes

1 Thomas More 20-0 20-0
2 Hope 21-0 21-0
3 Ohio Northern 18-3 18-3
4 Denison 19-3 19-3
5 Carnegie Mellon 15-5 15-5
6 Rose-Hulman 16-3 18-3
7 Capital 17-4 17-4
8 Bluffton 17-2 19-2
9 Washington and Jefferson 18-3 18-3

Mid-Atlantic

1 Scranton 21-0 21-0
2 Albright 20-2 20-2
3 Muhlenberg 17-2 17-2
4 Marymount  18-3 18-3
5 Moravian 16-5 16-5
6 Christopher Newport 19-2 19-2
7 Mary Washington 18-3 18-3
8 York (Pa.) 16-5 16-5

Northeast

1 Tufts 20-2 20-2
2 Amherst 21-1 21-1
3 University of New England 18-3 18-3
4 Bowdoin 17-5 17-5
5 Williams 17-5 17-5
6 St. Joseph’s (Maine) 15-4 17-4
7 Johnson & Wales  20-2 20-2
8 Eastern Connecticut  16-5 16-5
9 Keene State 18-3 18-3
10 Regis (Mass.) 18-3 18-3
11 WPI 20-1 20-1
12 Connecticut College 16-5 16-5

South

1 Texas-Tyler 18-1 21-1
2 Guilford 16-3 16-3
3 Maryville (Tenn.) 17-3 17-3
4 Lynchburg 17-4 17-4
5 Trinity (Texas) 16-3 18-4
6 Birmingham-Southern 17-2 18-2
7 Hendrix 16-5 16-5
8 Emory & Henry 15-4 15-5
9 Eastern Mennonite 14-6 14-6

West

1 George Fox 20-0 21-0
2 St. Thomas 18-3 18-3
3 Saint Mary’s (Minn.) 18-3 18-3
4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 17-3 17-4
5 Luther 14-5 16-5
6 Cal Lutheran 16-3 16-5
7 Loras 14-6 14-7
8 Gustavus Adolphus 15-6 15-6

Regional score reporting forms (including SOS) below:
Atlantic | Central | East | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Northeast | South | West

No tags

Dave tore up his ballot this week and tried to start over.

BOOM!

That sound you may have heard was me finally doing what I had been debating, and threatening, to do for weeks – blow up my ballot. It wasn’t a complete and devastating destruction, but it was good enough to make me rethink a number of teams, positions, and my thought process behind many. Surprisingly, not as many teams at the top shifted as dramatically as I thought they would in my head. However, the bottom half basically went through a complete make-over including cutting bait with teams because I just couldn’t justify my decisions anymore.

I also dove into more teams than usual this time of year and I dove into more data than I usually like to do. Many know I am not a fan of Massey Ratings, but this is the time of year I do take a look at their numbers to see if there is something I am missing. I don’t end up agreeing with Massey, but it at least forces me to reevaluate a team I am either under- or over-selling and it helps me make sure I am not missing anyone.

Same is true with the NCAA SOS numbers. Of course, we don’t have access to those numbers until Wednesday (when the first Regional Rankings debut), but math-expert Matt Snyder has his own “math” working online, based on the NCAA formula, which gives us at least a good idea of what to expect from the NCAA data (Matt will get a chance to double-check his formula(s) on Wednesday). While I am certainly not ranking my teams per the SOS, it does give me a better insight on what their schedule actually looks like from a data point of view. This sometimes will force me to dive into a team’s schedule further to figure out, maybe, why it doesn’t add up to my expectations (high or low).

This week’s ballot started with a completely blank piece of paper.

As a result of all of this, I ended up writing down a total of 45 teams, including my previous Top 25, to research and analyze. Each week this season I have had between 50-70 teams that have at least crossed my mind, but by the time I get down to researching, I have whittled that number down to 30-35. Also, I will sometimes breeze over teams I have near the top or know well to save myself time. However, this week, there was a solid 45 teams to go through and I went through each of their schedules, games, and notes I have on them in the past few weeks.

That’s what you do when you blow up your ballot.

As a result, my top ten went through a bit of a shuffle – though, it ended up not as severe as it started. I had moved some teams around significantly at the beginning before settling down to a more reserved shuffle in the end. The bottom fifteen, on the other hand, was completely turned on its head. I dropped four teams some of whom might surprise you despite big wins. I nearly dropped a fifth, but ended up deciding to hold on to my 25th team a little longer despite a major voice in the back of head not pleased with the decision.

With that being said, here is my Top 25 (which you can compare to the D3hoops.com Top 25). I am not going to comment on much of the top ten to save time and space. There are moves, they probably make sense. If they don’t, let me know. I wanted to focus my writing time mainly on the moves I made in the bottom half.

John Carroll moved up to No. 3 on Dave’s ballot this week.

1 – Augustana^ (Unchanged)

2 – Benedictine (Up 2)

3 – John Carroll (Up 2)

4 – St. Thomas* (Down 1)

5 – Whitworth* (Down 3)

6 – Hope (Unchanged)

7 – Christopher Newport (Up 2)

8 – Ohio Wesleyan (Down 1)

9 – Elmhurst (Down 1)

10 – Marietta (Unchanged)

11 – Johnson and Wales (Unchanged)

12 – Susquehanna^ (Unchanged)

13 – St. Norbert (Up 2)

The Chargers have jumped up Dave’s ballot thanks to dominating wins in NEAC play.

14 – Lancaster Bible (Up 4)
This is a big jump in my mind for the Chargers. The simple fact is at this time of the year with an unbeaten team in a sub-par conference I am looking for one thing: domination. Lancaster Bible is dominating the NEAC. They are winning conference games by nearly 27-points this season and haven’t had a game closer than 15 since beating Cairn by four on December 11th. Sure, the conference isn’t giving up much of a fight and there is a really problematic situation coming should they not win the AQ (SOS is .421 and while probably improve slightly; do you leave a one-loss team at home?). However, the Chargers are starting to prove their early season success was just the tip of the iceberg.

15 – Alma (Down 2)

16 – Plattsburgh State (Up 5)
The Cardinals are pulling away from what I thought was going to be a dog-fight of a SUNYAC race. Plattsburgh has won 13 of their last 14 games and now have a 3 ½ game lead on the conference with five games to play. This has been a six-team race at the top not that long ago. Basically, Plattsburgh is proving to be the only team that can win nearly every night in Central and Western New York.

Whitman proved once again they can beat Whitworth when wearing their home white jerseys.

17 – Whitman (Unranked)
I would be lying if I told you I was comfortable with putting Whitman this high on my ballot. Their win over Whitworth certainly gave me reason to include them, but this high? I realize I am one of the last to buy in to the Missionaries, but we have seen this script before. The only team capable of beating Whitworth in conference over the years is Whitman, but only when playing the game at the Sherwood Center on Whitman’s campus. Does that really make Whitman a good team this season versus others? Outside of beating Whitworth, the Missionaries don’t have a significant win on their schedule. While that doesn’t add up to this decision, I do lean on the fact Whitman has only lost three games and at least has played well in conference. I’m buying in… trepidatiously.

18 – Penn State-Behrend (Up 2)

19 – Mount Union (Up 3)

20 – Amherst (Down 6)
The team-formerly-known-as-the-Lord-Jeffs did not play well against Tufts on Saturday. Shot poorly from deep (28%), got out-rebounded, couldn’t hit a free throw (8-16), and allowed Tufts to have a 21-point lead before realizing they were in trouble. I am just not that confident in the purple team from more-central-than-west Massachusetts. When Amherst has been a national power in the past, these games didn’t exist. They have now dropped three games in their last eight with a resurgent Middlebury and scrappy Hamilton squads waiting to close out the regular season.

21 – Northwestern (Minn.) (Down 2)
Northwestern hasn’t done anything to drop two spots, but they haven’t done anything to make me think they are better than 21st. They have hands-down the worse SOS of any of the teams I am considering, and it’s ugly (.408) and they are barely holding on to the lead in the UMAC thanks to a loss already to St. Scholastica (they will play a rematch in the final game of the season). I just don’t think they are as good as I had them ranked.

Has Wooster reemerged as the best team in the Great Lakes?

22 – Wooster (Unranked)
Welcome back Scots. Looks like the team that has been underperforming to normal Wooster expectations may have found their stride. The win over Ohio Wesleyan a few weeks back is certainly a good sign, but they have also won ten of their last eleven and might pull off the surprise and force the NCAC tournament trough Timken Gymnasium! Their offense is scoring far more points in the last several weeks than it has all season while the defense seems to be staying consistent. Maybe Steve Moore has his team peaking during an off-year at just the right time to surprise some people.

23 – Emory* (Unranked)
Welcome back Eagles. The last two weeks in the UAA have been unbelievable. Emory was a game back of Chicago before playing their home-and-home series over the last two weekends. Now Emory has won six-straight, has a one-game lead on Rochester*, and Chicago has fallen to three-games back. Emory may have a young team, but they are proving they can now win the close games and beat some very good teams while they are at it. By the way, Emory has a ridiculous SOS (.634 unofficially) meaning they could get into the NCAA tournament once again and throw a monkey-wrench into bracketing like they did in 2014.

If Benedictine wasn’t undefeated, we probably would be talking more about Aurora and the NACC. Courtesy: Aurora University Athletics

24 – Aurora (Unranked)
I realize the Spartans lost to Benedictine this week, but have you seen how Aurora has been playing prior? If Benedictine wasn’t undefeated, people would probably be talking about Aurora. Since they lost three of four prior to the holiday break, they won ten in a row before facing Benedictine (now 11 of their past 12) and winning pretty confidently. Of course, maybe Aurora also looks better thanks to pretty much only losing to Benedictine this season. However, a .537 SOS surprised me, but that forced me to look at the schedule and remember a win over North Central (Ill.) and notice they have been putting up points all season.

25 – Franklin & Marshall (Down 1)
I almost cut the Diplomats. I know they are winning, but I am not impressed for some reason. I guess I don’t buy in as much as people would expect. But, I have watched the team for so many years and I just don’t think this team is quite where it can be to be a Top 25 team. The conference is also down (despite a good Swarthmore team who has emerged) and that doesn’t allow F&M to shine as much as they could. I actually had the Diplomats out of my ballot several times and was going to keep it that way until I voted. Then I changed my mind and left them in. Seems weird if they only have three-losses that I don’t have them in my Top 25 despite what that voice in the back of my head is yelling.

Dropped Out:

WPI^ (Previously 16)
The Engineers have lost three in a row. That’s pretty much the reason I dropped them. It is just so hard to buy in to WPI when they always seem to peak early and go through a stretch late in the season like this. The loss to Babson was their second to them and handed the Beavers the NEWMAC lead, but it was the end of three in a row that saw WPI lose to 9-12 (now) Springfield and Emerson.

Chicago has lost four in a row and put themselves in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament. Courtesy: Univ. of Chicago Athletics

Chicago^ (Previously 17)
The Maroons have now lost four in a row, all to Rochester and Emory including an unbelievable loss to the Yellow Jackets on a purposely missed free-throw, rebound, and three-pointer at the buzzer. It is amazing how fast a season can change. Chicago is basically in a must-win situation the rest of the season. Any loss will pretty much eliminate them from winning the UAA crown and throw them into a very crowded Central Region that will make getting an at-large bid very difficult. I really like Chicago and have for years… but this is not good.

Tufts had a tough battle this week, but despite beating Amherst fell out of Dave’s Top 25.

Tufts (Previously 23)
I realize the Jumbos beat Amherst, but they also lost to Trinity this week. No, not a bad loss and certainly a good win, but in a shake-up of my Top 25 I couldn’t hold on to them. They have previous losses to Wesleyan and Middlebury in the last few weeks and just don’t seem to be playing very consistently – they are all over the place. I might be wrong on this, but I just don’t like the look. Plus the fact, if you are good enough to beat Amherst… you should be good enough to be Trinity.

Texas Lutheran (Previously 25)
I was ready to pull this trigger last week, but held on. But a loss to Trinity this past weekend was the straw that broke the back. I don’t doubt the Bulldogs are a very good team this year and could make a bit of a run in the NCAA tournament if the bracket lines up right for them (like East Texas Baptist last year), but it is a crowded field for those worthy of being a Top 25 team and I think Texas Lutheran isn’t fitting the mold right now.

* – teams I have seen in person this season
^ – teams I have saw in person last season

Previous Ballots:

Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

It certainly is interesting right now. Sometimes the Top 25 settles down a little bit by this time of the year, but not this season. That isn’t overly surprising. There are a lot of good teams across the country and probably some that are flying under the radar. I know I spotted a few that I hadn’t taken as seriously as before in this process of blowing up my radar. Some made my ballot, some others are still off the ballot. There certainly isn’t a shortage of teams who can make arguments they are the best 25 in the country.\

For comparison’s sake, you can also check out Ira Thor’s Top 25 ballot here.

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North Central (Ill.) one of the teams high on the overall Top 25 poll but not on Dave’s ballot. Courtesy: North Central Athletics

This is being posted just a few days late! I apologize for the delay. The Hoopsville Marathon took up a lot of time this week, not just on Thursday. I wrote this late Tuesday night, but never got around to posting it. However, better late than never. Enjoy!(?)

Welcome to yet another look at my D3hoops.com Top 25 men’s basketball ballot. Another week, another few hours spent scratching more of my hair off my head.

I’m not sure what to add at this point. This is a challenging week with launching the Hoopsville Fundraising Campaign while also getting ready for the Hoopsville Marathon Show on Thursday. I had plenty of things to consider this week, but the amount of time spent on the other two major projects this week has not only already delayed publishing this blog, but left me with not much to comment on.

I will say this: I am clearly not on board with some or a lot of voters on a couple of teams. North Central (Ill.) is about mid-pack, but not on my ballot. I completely understand why some are voting for them, but many of those reasons are why I can’t vote for them. The biggest one – their losses have been to some very, very good teams, but they haven’t won any of those games either. They do have a solid win over Elmhurst, but that is pretty much the only team of note (NCC did beat Mount Union, but they have fallen out of the Top 25). That win over Elmhurst has me nearly including them on my ballot, but I guess I am just looking for the Cardinals to prove they can win more than just one big game out of six (or two out of seven).

I wanted to make sure I addressed that elephant in the room before I got to my ballot. There are others, but you can figure them out when you read through my ballot.

So here we go:

1 – Augustana (Unchanged)

2 – Whitworth* (Unchanged)

3 – St. Thomas* (Unchanged)

4 – Benedictine (Unchanged)

5 – John Carroll (Unchanged)

Hope continues to win, but have they peaked too soon? Courtesy: Hope Athletics

6 – Hope (Up 3)
The Dutchmen have moved up, but I am a little worried this is a little lofty all of the sudden. Could Hope have peaked too soon this season? They just don’t seem to be playing like they were a month ago and now find themselves no longer in control of the MIAA which might mean having to go on the road to secure an AQ and position themselves for home games in the NCAA Tournament (granted, that last point may be moot considering the women have hosting priority in the first weekend the Hope women are playing well enough to secure those for themselves). Hope moves up, but mainly because I needed to shuffle some others down.

7 – Ohio Wesleyan (Down 1)
Yes, the Battling Bishops lost to Wooster who isn’t even ranked let alone on my ballot. Falling just one spot seems awfully kind as a result. However, I am realistic enough to understand that playing at Wooster has historically been one of the more difficult things to accomplish. The game was terrific with both teams trading free throws in the final three and half seconds. I am a little worried with Ohio Wesleyan as I am with Hope. They seem a little banged up going through a tough NCAC, but I also think they are still far better than many of the teams below them.

Does Elmhurst have some chinks in the armor? Courtesy: Elmhurst Athletics

8 – Elmhurst (Down 1)
I honestly would have been shocked if Elmhurst had beaten Augustana in Rock Island especially after the Vikings had the motivation of overcoming the earlier loss to the Blue Jays. What I didn’t expect was the second half. The game was tied at halftime, but Augustana made quick work of Elmhurst in the second half. It is the Blue Jays second loss in the last two weeks (four games) and that has me a little concerned. While the rankings say I shouldn’t move Elmhurst down for losing to a team above them (let alone the top team in the country accordingly to my ballot), the combination of being taken out of the game in the final 20 minutes against Augustana and losing two games in the last four had me shift them slightly.

9 – Christopher Newport (Unchanged)

10 – Marietta (Up 1)

11 – Johnson and Wales (Up 2)

12 – Susquehanna^ (Down 2)
As I have said with many other programs, I didn’t expect the Crusaders to get through Landmark play unscathed. Losing at Catholic, sure I could see that happening. Losing by 21 and giving up 101? Um, no. Ouch. Granted, both teams shot the lights out of the building, but I talked to an official who called the game and he told me he felt Susquehanna played horribly. That gave me pause. I really think Susquehanna will win the Landmark and play in the NCAA Tournament and probably go deep, but I also hope the Catholic game is not a sign of the future.

Alma hasn’t played this well in 74 years!

13 – Alma (Up 3)
I am going to repeat myself: at the beginning of the season, Hope’s Greg Mitchell told me on Hoopsville that Alma was the team to watch in the MIAA. Boy was he right. Now Mitchell and the Dutchmen are looking at the Scots ahead of the in the conference… with a big game between the two coming up on Saturday at Hope. One could argue the game will be the biggest in Alma’s at least recent history.

14 – Amherst^ (Up 1)

15 – St. Norbert (Up 4)
I really expected to see the Green Knights drop a game or two in the Midwest Conference the season. They haven’t lost in conference since 2013(!) and with what they lost during the offseason, this seemed like a safe bet. Nope. Not yet. With their hard fought win over Carroll, SNC has now won 57-straight conference games, have a two-game lead on the conference, and look to be securing yet another conference title and NCAA tournament bid. By the way, have you seen how well the women’s team is playing as well? Time to stop focusing on the WIAC in Wisconsin and take a look at the other green program in Green Bay… because St. Norbert is clearly very, very good.

16 – WPI^ (Down 2)

17 – Chicago^ (Down 5)
Whelp. This past weekend for the Maroons proved one thing: it doesn’t matter how well you are playing, it can change quickly. Emory and Rochester came to the South Side and left Chicago wondering what happened. Chicago didn’t play very well from what I could see. Almost looked like the problems they faced in the opening weeks of the season. Now, Chicago in the difficult situation of having to go to Atlanta and Rochester this coming weekend needing to win to get back in control – or semi control – of the UAA. If not, the automatic bid could be gone and the Maroons will find themselves caught in a very, very difficult Central Region fighting for an at-large bid. It is amazing how quickly things can change.

18 – Lancaster Bible (Unchanged)

19 – Northwestern (Up 2)

PSU-Behrend finally appears on Dave’s ballot. Courtesy: PSU-Behrend Athletics

20 – PSU-Behrend (Unranked)
At some point, a team’s record trumps whatever else I think about them. The Lions only have one loss (LaRoche on Dec. 5) and have now won thirteen in a row while once again rolling through their conference. The problem is, the loss to LaRoche isn’t good and they don’t have an impressive win at all on their resume. Ok, maybe the fact they beat Carnegie Mellon (by 22) and Case Western Reserve should be noted. But that’s it. Nothing else. Behrend is once again in a situation that should they not win the conference AQ they won’t be going to the NCAA Tournament. But again, they have only lost once so far in 18 games. There are a lot of teams who wish they could be winning that many games this season.

21 – Plattsburgh State (Unranked)
I’ve been looking for a reason to get a SUNYAC school on my ballot, especially after I not only swung and missed on Oswego Stae, but also held on to the Lakers far too long. But each week I check out the SUNYAC, they have once again beaten each other up leaving me with no one to pick. Not this week! The Cardinals are actually seemingly pulling away from the rest of the conference. Plattsburgh is two games up on the conference and playing pretty well, but now that the spotlight is on them I am sure the conference will bring them back to earth. Right?

22 – Mount Union (Up 1)

23 – Tufts (Up 1)

24 – Franklin & Marshall^ (Up 1)

Sterling Holmes and his Bulldog teammates have Dave concerned. Could they be coasting?

25 – Texas Lutheran (Down 8)
I am not sure what to think about with the Bulldogs. Dropping eight spots may seem cruel for a team that knocked off their rival for the top of the conference (TLU and Colorado College were tied atop the SCAC entering last weekend), but Texas Lutheran lost the trap game! They went to Centenary (La.) and lost to a team that had lost three straight and is barely above .500. That isn’t good enough! We have entered that part of the season where you can’t skate by and you don’t get second chances. I just feel TLU has moments where they are coasting. Bad sign.

Dropped Out:

Roanoke (Previously 20)
Not a good week if you are a Maroon fan (Chicago or Roanoke) as both squads lost two games back-to-back. For Roanoke, they lost to .500 Randolph and then to sub-par Virginia Wesleyan… both at HOME! For many conferences this season, the top has come down to the middle as it has in the ODAC. Roanoke has a chance to taken advantage of this, but instead squander a chance to take control of the standings. It also set-up a scenario that may leave the ODAC with just one team in the NCAA Tournament.

Brooklyn has tumbled through Dave’s ballot and now out. Courtesy: Brooklyn Athletics

Brooklyn (Previously 22)
It wasn’t that long ago Brooklyn was in my Top 10. They aren’t the first team to be in my Top 10 and then fall out of the poll a few weeks later, they are just the most recent. I am not sure if I bought in too much or if the Bulldogs just aren’t living up to their own expectations. They are battling in what is a far more difficult CUNYAC than in the past, but to be in the Top 25 from that conference you have to take control of the top. Barely beating Lehman and then losing to Staten Island leaving the squad in third place in the conference just isn’t cutting it.

* teams I have seen in person this season
^ teams I have saw in person last season

I am not that comfortable with the bottom half of the ballot. I could go around and around, removing and adding teams for hours. I don’t think I could be comfortable no matter how much time I took. There are a ton of teams with three or four losses that leaves you wanting more – oh, and then add in those five loss teams that seem like they should be in the conversation as well!

I may go back to throwing darts … or blow up the ballot next week.

Previous Ballots:
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

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Kenny Love and the overall #1 Whitworth Pirates moved back into second spot on my ballot.

It was an interesting week for the D3hoops.com Top 25 – at least I thought so. We are getting to the point where things appear to be getting more stable. I didn’t think we would ever get to that point and having said that I have probably jinxed myself for the rest of the season. However, I think myself and other voters are starting to feel more comfortable with far more of the ballot. It used to be just the top five, then maybe eight or nine, but now I feel like the top fifteen or more are a bit more solid and I am just working on filling out the rest. In other words, this week’s ballot felt more like ballots of seasons past!

Unfortunately, I did not get to see as many games online as I normally do this past week. Despite the fact a blizzard kept me indoors over the weekend, it didn’t mean I had all of this free time to just watch games. When you are expecting two to three feet of snow, you spend part of that time shoveling during the storm so you can open your doors and have less to break your back over after the storm. Thank goodness I got out a few times during the storm as three feet is what ended up falling on us and I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle that all at once (I am still shoveling three days later!).

As a result, I have concentrated my efforts a little more on posts on the Posting Up boards from those who see teams in action and know them the best. You have to be careful with this tactic as you will get some very different points of view from two people who were at the same game – seen through whatever tint their glasses are per their rooting interests. However, there are a number of solid posters who continually give great accounts of games or input that you can’t always appreciate watching a game online. I will admit, I am not great at breaking a game down through written word, so I truly appreciate those who do.

There still remains one major challenge: There are a number of deserving or seem-to-be-deserving teams worthy of Top 25 love, but not enough spots to put them in. Each week I struggle to figure out how to get teams on my ballot and figure out who to remove. In weeks past when there were losses-a-plenty, it was a little bit easier. However, the last few weeks have seen a downward trend in losses on my ballot meaning I have less teams I am willing to dump for others.

The other challenge comes with squads people think deserve to be in the Top 25 because they got a big win or two. One such team came up in conversation on Twitter recently:

While the tweet wasn’t directed at me, I saw it and it made me think. Wesleyan has been on my radar for weeks, but I keep having problems with some of their results. This past week they beat up on Amherst and beat Tufts as well. Pretty good week, right? But prior to that they had lost three of four games including Amherst beating up on them in a game that actually counted for the NESCAC. (Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams all play a second round of games against each other for Little Three bragging rights. The first Amherst-Wesleyan game counted for NESCAC play: Amherst won. The second game counted for the Little Three only: Wesleyan won.) By the way, when I say they beat each other up, Amherst won the first game by 24 and Wesleyan won the second game by 27. And then there is that Lyndon State (6-9) game the very first game of the season which Wesleyan lost by 2. While it was the first game of the season, it is still a loss I struggle to understand other than it was the first game of the season.

Rashid Epps and Wesleyan have had an up and down three weeks. Credit: Wesleyan Athletics

In my back and forth Twittersation with 757Basketball, they expressed bewilderment as to why Wesleyan wouldn’t be getting love for winning the NESCAC title last season. This is the funniest part because I can’t tell you how many people will tell me they want me voting on only this year’s results, while another set of people understands if I take history into account (not winning a title, but trends and consistency), and other set of people want me to lean heavily on history. I can’t win! LOL

Wesleyan is ranked in the Top 25 on this week’s D3hoops poll, but I will break the suspense and tell you they are not on my ballot below. The Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde routine of the past three weeks doesn’t make make comfortable putting them on my ballot just yet. However, the Cardinals have some solid opponents coming up in the final five games of the season. Play well and I am sure I can find room on a crowded ballot.

One more thing before I continue on with this week’s ballot, I want to recognize Ira Thor and Ryan Scott. Last week Ira started blogging his ballot for the world to see and Ryan Scott followed suit with his blog this week. They both recognized the fact I am doing it as part of the reason they are being transparent and I congratulate them for taking what is honestly a bold step forward in revealing their voting and even thinking behind their decisions. It only helps to give people a better understanding of how different voters vote because there are 25 completely different voters with very different mindsets and interpretations. Some of us might chat with one another, but we certainly don’t all vote the same way. To see their ballots, you can click here for Ira’s and click here for Ryan’s.

Now on to my ballot from this week (forgive the lack of brevity for some of these, not a lot of time this week for writing):

1 – Augustana^ (Unchanged)

2 – Whitworth* (Up 1)

3 – St. Thomas* (Up 1)

4 – Benedictine (Up 1)

5 – John Carroll (Up 1)

6 – Ohio Wesleyan (Up 1)

Elmhurst last unbeaten to lose in the CCIW this season.

7 – Elmhurst (Down 5)
My point a few weeks ago when Augustana lost to Elmhurst on the road was that I expected the Vikings to lose a game in CCIW play. It’s been 43 seasons since someone went through conference play undefeated and I didn’t expect it to happen this year. As a result, I did not and I have not moved Augustana off of my top spot. So Elmhurst losing to North Central, on the road, isn’t all that surprising in the fact that I didn’t expect the Blue Jays to go undefeated in the CCIW either (or they would have been my number one team!). However, it was an 18-point loss not a two-point, overtime loss like Augustana’s. North Central shot very well and Elmhurst was average. So I knew I was going to drop the Blue Jays a couple of spots. They fell a few extra spots only because I couldn’t argue they were better than the teams ahead of them right now. So, five spots is a tough drop for a road loss in conference, but to be honest I expect them to lose another road game this week (Augustana).

For those wondering, no, North Central did not make my ballot this week. I only have one five-loss team on my ballot and seriously considered dropping them off this week as well. It is a decision I am not exactly sure of even as I write this, but it is the decision I went with when it click “submit.”

8 – Hope (Unchanged)

9 – Christopher Newport (Up 1)

10 – Susquehanna* (Up 1)

11 – Marietta (Up 1)

12 – Chicago^ (Up 1)

13 – Johnson and Wales (Up 2)
The Wildcats continue to dominate in their conference. I am serious when I say even Albertus Magnus didn’t dominate the GNAC like this in the last few years. 36 points per game! But for those who have followed my blog over the years, you will notice J&W is in about the same spot as AMC has been this time of the year almost every season.

14 – WPI (Up 2)

Lord Jeff no more at Amherst. Just part of a rough week on campus. Credit: Independent Journal

15 – Amherst (Down 6)
Not a good week for the Lord Jeffs – and the final time I will probably be uttering those two words. I’m not sure the ramping up style of scheduling Amherst has done over the last few years (starting with easier opponents and working towards more challenging ones before conference play) is working out this season. That coupled with the fact the NESCAC is a far deeper conference than in years past contributed to a 1-2 week for Amherst. Wesleyan, as noted earlier, and then Colby nipped the purple team from central Massachusetts. The only bright spot, a thorough thumping of Bowdoin in the middle of a three-game road trip. It won’t get any easier for Amherst, maybe, as they continue what is a five game road stretch with games at Williams (12-6) and Trinity (14-4) this week. Amherst is clearly not as good as what voter’s thought in the preseason (#3) nor I (#5). I will be watching very closely to see how Dave Hixon’s squad responds this week.

16 – Alma (Up 2)

17 – Texas Lutheran (Up 2)

18 – Lancaster Bible (Up 2)

19 – St. Norbert (Unranked)
I am making up for last week’s mistake of accidently leaving St. Norbert off my ballot. However, it might have been a blessing in disguise. It forced me to reevaluate the Green Knights since I had them off my ballot. I needed to find a spot to place them and maybe broke up a rut I was in with SNC. I didn’t seem to be able to move them out of the twenties. This might get me moving them around a bit more since with two-losses they are playing better than expectations – AGAIN. I could have moved them up further as well, but at least they are back on the poll where they deserve to be!

20 – Roanoke (Up 3)

21 – Northwestern (Up 3)

22 – Brooklyn (Up 3)

Mount Union needs to win a big game other than Chicago earlier this season.

23 – Mount Union (Down 9)
I’ll be brutally honest, despite having them 14th and losing to a team I and the D3hoops.com voting group had ranked ahead of them (Marietta), I almost pulled the plug on the Purple Raiders. Five losses are the most any team has on my ballot. It is also the most on the overall poll, but that team is North Central. I realize Mount Union has played a very difficult schedule, in what has become a fascinatingly tough OAC race, but at some point I have expected UMU to beat a ranked team! They have a win over Chicago, but they have losses to William Paterson (once ranked), North Central, John Carroll, and Marietta (last two in back-to-back games). What is worse, when Mount Union losses it isn’t close. The average spread in a loss is 13.8 with six being the closest in a game against Colby. I decided to hold on just a little longer because I think the Purple Raiders are a very good team, but they won’t get another “big” game until Feb. 17 against John Carroll. I expect them to win every game between then to be blunt.

24 – Tufts (Down 7)
I nearly pulled the plug here as well. The Jumbos have lost two of their last four including to starting-to-get-hot Middlebury and schizophrenic Wesleyan. At least the games have been close, but as NESCAC play has intensified Tufts seems to be wilting a little. They only beat Conn College by two the other day on the road. Interestingly, Tufts has two non-conference games in the next three which might not tell us anything, so I wait patiently.

25 – Franklin & Marshall (Down 4)
The Diplomats only ended up playing one game due to the Blizzard last week and lost to Gettysburg (they have since beaten McDaniel in a twice-postponed-game). While F&M made a run in the second half to try and make it interesting, the Bullets pulled away in the end and left F&M floundering with 57 points. This is the same point in the season last year when the unexpectedly hot season fizzled on the Diplomats. They had started 14-0 and 7-0 in conference before losing their first game on January 17. They would go on to lose six of their final twelve games of the season and miss out on the NCAA Tournament. This is basically the same team, expect supposedly with more experience. However, the conference isn’t scared of the Diplomats and with Dickinson looking to prove they are still good coming up and a tough finishing set of games remaining, F&M needs to put the blinders on and focus on the task at hand – securing home-court advantage for the Centennial playoffs or this season is going to end just as suddenly as last year’s.

Dropped Out:

Trine’s undoing started with a loss at Calvin. Courtesy: Trine Athletics

Trine (Previously 22)
I did to Trine what I nearly did to Mount Union. After starting the season 10-1, the Thunder have gone 3-3 in their last six and now sit 3-3 in the conference race in a three-way tie for third. Furthermore, they haven’t beaten the really good or ranked teams on their schedule. They have lost to Ohio Wesleyan, Calvin, Hope, and Alma. Three of those teams ranked and all three conference losses to teams ahead of tied with them in the standings. Trine needs to man-up and get a significant win. They have a home game against Calvin coming up this week which can help them greatly (since they are tied with the Knights in third place), but Hope and Alma won’t show up on the schedule for a few more weeks.

* – teams I have seen in person this season
^ – teams I have saw in person last season

Previous Ballots
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

So, only one team entered the ballot (with one team dropping out) and it’s the first team to re-enter my ballot this season. They also shouldn’t have been off my ballot in the first place!

There are still probably 20 or so teams I have “on my radar” that I spend the most time on each week trying to figure out if they deserve to be on my ballot or not. And if they do, who should be removed.

Sometimes I blow up my ballot because I have gotten into ruts and teams probably should be moved more drastically then I am allowing in its current structure. Other times I blow it up is when I feel like I have put myself in a corner and can’t find good enough reasons to move teams on or off accordingly. This week with the bottom third of the ballot feeling somewhat set, I feel a ballot blow up coming… just to shake up my thinking.

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Will Starks and John Carroll moved up on Dave's ballot thanks to a big win over Mount Union.

Will Starks and John Carroll moved up on Dave’s ballot thanks to a big win over Mount Union.

Another week, another challenging D3hoops.com Top 25 to consider. The top of the poll is somewhat solid. Not many changes, some shuffling, but the top fourteen spots didn’t take much time to decide on. It was the next eleven spots which are difficult, especially the massive vacuum that seems to reside in that area. Not the kind of vacuum that sucks everything up, but the kind of vacuum that is an empty, devoid space.

There have been a few vacuums this season on my ballot. At the beginning it resided between 5-10 on the poll. It has steadily moved down the poll as some of the good teams I had reservations about have proven themselves pretty strong. It has been starting around 12-15 for a few weeks now.

That’s the complication. There are a high number of teams who certainly can make arguments to be Top 25 teams – I’ve said probably up to 70 teams some weeks. But there is a place on the poll each week where it doesn’t feel like teams are good enough to be ranked there, but no one else should be there either. It’s a vacuum.

I have dealt with these vacuums in two ways this season: moved teams from below up into the ranks to fill the hole; inserted teams unranked before to fill the hole. The first option I used when the vacuum was further up in the Top 10. I didn’t have teams unranked the week prior who could just jump into a slot in the range of five to ten. However, as the vacuum has shifted further down, I have inserted unranked teams into as high as 15, I believe. Neither option feels comfortable because I am basically putting teams where I don’t think they fit. But again, there is a vacuum I need to fill and it may have backfired on me last week.

None the less, there is a vacuum for me starting right at number fifteen. I went with the “unranked last week” plan of attack yet again and took a risk.

With that all said… let’s get to the ballot! But first, a shout-out to my fellow voter Ira Thor who decided to reveal his Top 25 as well. I applaud him for deciding to be transparent. I know others who will tell you their ballot should you ask (being transparent) and I think it’s good to help people understand what voters are thinking.

1 – Augustana^ (Unchanged)
No reason to change my mind here, though it has been an interesting to see how the first place votes have been breaking down and the reactions to those votes.

2 – Elmhurst (Unchanged)

3 – Whitworth* (Unchanged)

4 – St. Thomas* (Up 1)
Three-game week resulted in no losses and included a solid win over Augsburg and an import win over St. John’s.

Luke Johnson and Benedictine continue to avoid an in-conference hiccup.

5 – Benedictine (Up 1)
The Eagles continue to avoid what I worry about the most: a conference loss which could spiral into a couple of losses quickly. In games they should win, they dominated at least one of them this past week.

6 – John Carroll (Up 4)
The Blue Streaks are proving they are for real this season. You will remember I have been nervous of what was really going on in University Heights, Ohio, but a high-scoring 116-93 win over ranked Mount Union was what I was looking for on my personal litmus test for the team. Granted, it was a litmus test across the board for John Carroll, but I was very interested not only if John Carroll could win the game, but would they do it on their own terms – high scoring game tells me it was on their own terms. Now the target is squarely on JCU. They have wins over Marietta and Mount Union, but they won those games at home. They have ten games remaining for the conference tournament and have to play Marietta and Mount Union on the road… in back-to-back games in February.

7 – Ohio Wesleyan (Unchanged)

8 – Hope (Down 4)
The Dutchmen’s fall of four spots to a pretty good Alma team is three-fold: they did lose a game granted on the road, they haven’t looked all that strong in the last few weeks, and the movement of other teams didn’t find a hole until number eight. I still think Hope is a dangerous team who has a chance at being very special this season, but since returning from the holiday break, they barely beat Albion at home (68-65), had a tougher-than-expected game at Olivet (79-64), and the loss on the road to Alma. They backed that up with an emphatic win over Trine (74-51) which probably should have kept them from falling four spots. However, I don’t think they are playing better than the teams ahead of them and when I moved John Carroll up four spots the only opening I had left was here at eight. I just want to see Hope start to play a little more consistently at a high-level that I have become accustom to this season.

9 – Amherst (Unchanged)

Tim Daly and Christopher Newport are quietly putting together one of their best seasons in program history. Courtesy: Christopher Newport Athletics/Keller Gabriel

10 – Christopher Newport (Up 1)
Quick comment on the Captains – they are playing some really good basketball. The CAC has been an interesting conference where almost anyone can rise to the occasion to beat someone on top, but Christopher Newport has been dominating everyone. They haven’t had a conference game in single-digits at the end all season. The closest anyone has come has been Salisbury (71-60) and Marymount (68-58) at the beginning of December. This might be a team who will quietly go far into the tournament this year before anyone realizes what is actually happening.

11 – Susquehanna* (Down 4)
This has been a magical season for the Crusaders and going undefeated in the conference was certainly on everyone’s mind no matter how unrealistic it may have been an expectation. But when they beat-up on Scranton on the road and having already beaten Catholic at home, that expectation began to take root. Was I surprised they lost? No. However, I didn’t think they would lose to a team in the bottom two-thirds, or so, of the conference. I figured Catholic or Scranton would eventually trip them up. Drew is a good team, but that was a road game Susquehanna should have won to remain a Top Ten squad.

12 – Marietta (Unchanged)

13 – Chicago^ (Unchanged)

14 –Mount Union (Unchanged)

Quarry Greenaway and J&W are blowing out teams in conference by more than 36 points per game! Courtesy: Johnson and Wales Athletics

15 – Johnson and Wales (Unranked)
And here we enter the vacuum of my poll right now. I am going with a risk with Johnson and Wales here because… have you seen the Wildcats this season? We had Coach Jamie Benton on Hoopsville earlier this season when they got out to a good start. Should they keep this up, he will appear again to talk about dancing in the NCAA Tournament. They are not only 9-0 in the GNAC, a conference Albertus Magnus has dominated the last few season, but they dismantled a rebuilding, but still good (11-3), AMC squad 113-58 at home last week. They are beating conference teams by an average of 37.6 points per game! For comparison, Albertus Magnus beat their conference opponents by 18.8 ppg last season. J&W’s one loss this season? Linfield in the opening game of the season at Lewis and Clark. Considering the travel alone for that game, I am going to give the Wildcats a pass. I just don’t know if going from unranked to 15th is a smart move on my part.

16 – WPI (Down 1)
A loss to Babson isn’t a surprise expect that it was a home loss. The worry I have is the Engineers didn’t play well on the road against Emerson in the next game. I wasn’t buying into WPI early on. Now I have and it looks like they have hit a funk. We shall see.

17 – Tufts (Down 1)

Sam Hargraves and the Scots are in the D3hoops.com Top 25 for the first time in program history. Courtesy: Alma Athletics

18 – Alma (Unranked)
I had bracketed this past week for Alma several weeks ago. At home against Hope and then on the road against Calvin. This was a true test. Boy were the Scots ready! They beat Hope by 11 in a game they clearly were the better team and then beat-up on Calvin by 22. This squad is not a surprise in the conference. You might remember Hope’s Greg Mitchell talking about them earlier this season on Hoopsville, Kevin Vande Streek talked about them with me at the D3hoops.com Classic, and others have talked about how Alma (and Trine) were going to reshape the top of the MIAA. Alma is proving those thoughts accurate. But there is a lot of basketball to go including on the road against Trine this week and a road Hope, home Calvin set of games in early February.

19 – Texas Lutheran (Down 2)
The Bulldogs didn’t do anything to fall two spots, but they aren’t exactly a team I felt comfortable moving up into the 15th hole (per my previous handling of vacuum problems). But I am also getting nervous I am reading too much into the squad. When I talk to those who have seen them in action, they don’t speak as highly about them as I expect. One voter’s thoughts to me were, “they are good, just good.” I wanted badly to see them this past week when I was in San Antonio, but my schedule didn’t allow it. They do have a win over Alma and are now ranked in my poll behind them. That’s because I think Alma is playing better now than in late December and it was a one-point win in the first place.  The other problem: the losses to Pacific Lutheran, Illinois Wesleyan, and Texas-Tyler are not looking as good or strong as they have in the past. The shine just doesn’t seem to be there for me anymore

Herbie Brown and Lancaster Bible survived the toughest travel weekend of the season.

20 – Lancaster Bible (Unranked)
As with Alma, I had this past weekend bracketed for Lancaster Bible and they delivered. They had their toughest, conference road trip of the season ahead of them and they dominated with wins over Cazenovia (92-77) and Morrisville State (97-66). Morrisville State has been the class of the NEAC for several years, so to go into their place – even if they are having a down year – and beat them my 31 is more than impressive. That coupled with the fact they already have a dominating win over Franklin & Marshall and I am ready to buy in. The only trick is the Chargers are just hitting the midway point of the season. Unlike most teams, they have 13 games to fit into roughly a four-week period (January 22 to February 20). That schedule may take a toll, though eight of the final thirteen games are at home.

21 – Franklin & Marshall^ (Up 4)
The Diplomats have not let Glenn Robinson’s chase for 900 career wins or passing Bobby Knight on the all-time list distract them – nor would he let them for anyone who knows them. However, it can be a very distracting thing. Instead, F&M is in the midst of a six game winning streak. I would rank the squad higher, but they aren’t dominating teams, they are having games finish close that shouldn’t, and they aren’t exactly putting 40 minutes of complete basketball together every night – if they have done it at all this season. But they are good and seemingly deserve to be ranked.

22 – Trine (Down 1)
To be honest, I probably should have pulled Trine out of my ranking. I didn’t expect them to beat Hope especially after the Dutchmen got beat by Alma earlier in the week. But to lose by 23? Ouch. They have also now lost two in the last four games against two of the four teams battling for the top of the conference and with Alma looming on Wednesday, I am nervous that Trine is not going to pass its toughest test of the season (Calvin, Hope, and Alma in five games – 14 days). In hindsight, I might have had a better team to take their place or keep one of those I ejected this week in the poll.

Roanoke was unable to beat Hamden-Sydney, but still played their style of game. Courtesy: Roanoke College Athletics

23 – Roanoke (Down 3)
This is what happens it seems more than I can count. You finally buy into a team, rank them, and they go out and lay an egg. When I quickly chatted, via text, with Page Moir about the Maroons loss to Hampden-Sydney, he said it was a bad shooting night. I didn’t know the score at the time, just that they lost (I was with ODAC members at the NCAA Convention at the time). I looked later and saw the score: 100-92. Bad shooting night and still put 92 points on the board?! Let me tell you the number of coaches would love to have that problem! That is why I am not bailing on Roanoke. They are still playing their game and a bad shooting night is the reason they lost, not the reason they aren’t a Top 25 team. They are still the fourth-highest scoring team in the country (100.0 ppg) and one of those teams hasn’t really played a Division III schedule (Nebraska Wesleyan 100.3 ppg). The other two: Greenville (5-10; 111.7 ppg) and Grinnell (7-7; 106.4 ppg).

24 – Northwestern (Down 5)
I don’t like the loss to St. Scholastica to be blunt. I realize the Saints are 10-6 on the season, but it isn’t a good loss in my mind for the Eagles. I seriously thought about ejecting them from the Top 25 and there could be a strong argument later to have done it. The Eagles have now lost twice in a conference they went undefeated in last season and lost two of their last five games. I might be giving them too much credit for being a tough squad.

25 – Brooklyn (Down 2)
The Bulldogs didn’t do anything necessarily to fall two spots – they beat Hunter in their only game of the week. They just shuffled down two spots due to movement of teams above and around them. I still don’t love their loss to Baruch despite how tough the CUNYAC really is and the fact everyone knows Baruch is one of the tougher match-ups, no matter the record. But they are still a team I think will surprise some people come March.

Dropped Out:

UW-Whitewater (Previously 17)
I can’t say I have ever put a team into my Top 25, especially that high on the ballot after being unranked, and then removed them the next week. Bad week for the Warhawks. Lost to River Falls and Oshkosh Guh. I don’t really have anything to say. I thought they were coming together as a team especially considering how many transfers had come onto the program, but I must have read more into it than there needed to be. I will say last year’s experience of not ranking UW-Stevens Point until even later than this point in the season was in the back of my head, but this was just buying in too soon. This is also an example of why sometimes I am gun-shy about teams that are playing well above my expectations and thus why I tend to be a little slower than some to buy in.

Bridgeport Tusler scored 18 against Augsburg, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the loss for Bethel. Courtesy: Bethel Athletics

Bethel (Previously 22)
I circled this decision for a very long time. I am still not so sure I got this right. I realize they lost to Augsburg, but let’s not pretend that isn’t a good Aggies squad there in Minneapolis. But when Augsburg got thumped in their next game to St. John’s it had a trickle down affect to Bethel. Despite going 2-1 on the week and being what I feel is the second best team in the MIAC, I decided to take them out of the poll and give someone else a chance for right now.

St. Norbert (Previously 24)
The Green Knights slipped past me. Plain and simple. I was moving so many parts around (see above) along with considering so many other teams outside my ballot, I simply lost track of St. Norbert. Their win over Beloit didn’t do anything for me (they should be Beloit by 26!), though their win over Knox certainly raised my eyebrow (only scoring 56 points – thirty less than against Beloit – only winning by 3 to a one-win squad). I had not planned to removed St. Norbert from my Top 25, but in my back and forth thinking about Northwestern and with other squads I thought deserved to be in there, SNC simply fell off my ballot and I didn’t really notice it until writing this blog. Probably a mistake I will have to fix next week.

* – teams I have seen in person this season
^ – teams I have saw in person last season

Previous Ballots

Week 5
Week 4
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

So there you have it. I am still keeping up with my removal of at least three teams from my Top 25, and shuffling teams around quite a bit. However, this week felt a little less stressful. That or I have gotten so used to the hours of work and hair pulling that it didn’t bother me as much this week. I am leaning towards that second thought.

I have also been knocking on the door of a full ballot blow-up and am kind of shocked I didn’t force it in the last few weeks. This week will be revealing if that kind of shake-up is needed in the near future.

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