|With Monday’s loss by St. Thomas, is the University of Rochester next in line to be No. 1?|
Rochester athletics photo
This week, voting in the Top 25 was relatively easy especially when compared to last week’s overhaul that proved more challenging – though enlightening – than expected. You aren’t going to see a lot of changes this week. In fact, the first 12 positions in my poll didn’t move. I did have to deal with questions about close wins and surprising losses, but it was a handful of teams this time, not the entire ballot. So, here we go:
1 – St. Thomas – unchanged
2 – Rochester – unchanged
3 – Whitworth – unchanged
4 – WPI – unchanged
5 – Middlebury – unchanged
6 – UW-Stevens Point – unchanged
7 – North Central (Ill.) – unchanged
8 – Williams – unchanged
9 – Catholic – unchanged
10 – Ramapo – unchanged
11 – Christopher Newport – unchanged
12 – Hampden-Sydney – unchanged
13 – Wooster – UP 5 spots
Very good week for the Scots who put their foot down on the NCAC. A win over Ohio Wesleyan on the road helped give the Battling Bishops their second straight loss and give Wooster a two-game lead in the conference.
14 – Stevens – unchanged
15 – Amherst – unchanged
The Lord Jeffs did win three games this week, which would normally have me move them up. But first, there isn’t much room for moving upward and second, they only faced one team with a winning record and all three of the games were at home.
16 – St. Mary’s (Md.) – UP 1 spot
17 – Calvin – UP 4 spots
When you lay the wood to your rival Hope in one of the biggest rivalries in college sports, people take notice. Hope is clearly having a tough season (which featured another loss this week to Olivet), but the fact Calvin manhandled them in a game where a winless team would probably still make it interesting is rather telling. Calvin now has a two-game lead in the MIAA.
18 – Illinois Wesleyan – UP 4 spots
The Titans didn’t exactly beat anyone stellar in conference play this week, but they won both games on the road in a conference that has already shown that the top teams can lose to those struggling below .500. Big test coming up… North Central at home.
19 – Albertus Magnus – unchanged
20 – Brandeis – unranked
The Judges made a statement this weekend beating Chicago and then Wash U on the road. Brandeis has only two losses at the hands of Rhode Island College in the first game of the season and Amherst at the beginning of December. Seven straight wins has them tied on top of the UAA with Rochester who they will face at home on Sunday.
21 – Guilford – DOWN 5 spots
The ODAC is probably tougher this year than in years past with nine of the twelve teams with winning records and eight teams within four games of the top of the conference. Guilford got a win over Randolph midweek, which kept them from falling out of the poll with their loss to Washington & Lee, albeit on the road. And the road doesn’t get easier. They have Lynchburg at home and then on the road at Hampden-Sydney this week. Let’s see if they stay on my ballot.
22 – Virginia Wesleyan – unranked
The Marlins do lead the ODAC with a perfect 8-0 and have won five straight. However, the four-game slide at the end of December and barely able to get by Roanoke (who seemed to have the game in hand) are signs that maybe this Marlin team is lucky to be 8-0 in the conference. They are on top of the ODAC recordwise, but I am not convinced they have figured things out.
23 – Wesley – unranked
Really can’t keep the Wolverines off my ballot any more. 10 straight wins including St. Mary’s and Salisbury in the last two show this team is playing very good basketball right now. Wesley has wins over Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Wesleyan as well this season and nearly got past Christopher Newport back in November (lost in triple overtime). The Wolverines have a rematch with St. Mary’s on Saturday that will determine who is in control of the CAC heading into February.
24 – Rhode Island – unchanged
The Anchormen didn’t exactly impress this week. In fact I thought about dropping them when considering they beat Mass-Dartmouth and Plymouth State – a combined 5-26 – by a total of nine points. The games were on the road and New England is probably distracted with the Patriots this week, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. A battle for the top of the LEC looms Saturday with Eastern Connecticut on the road – if Rhode Island doesn’t forget they play Western Connecticut first.
25 – Rose-Hulman – unchanged
The Engineers didn’t do anything to impress me this week, either. They beat Franklin (who is 11-6 and has a win over Illinois Wesleyan on their resume) easily, but then struggled at home against 7-10 Bluffton. So, I thought about moving Rose-Hulman off my ballot until I remembered they still only have two losses. Who would I have replaced them with? Transylvania who beat Rose-Hulman last week – so the reason would have been good.
Dropped out this week:
Ohio Wesleyan – 13th last week
Yeah, this might be harsh, but I wouldn’t have removed them from my Top 25 with just their loss to Wooster. Their lost to Hiram by 13 on the road midweek on the other hand made the loss to Wooster at home just the cherry on top. I like the Battling Bishops but they shoot horribly from the free-throw line and they have games like Hiram, Allegheny and others that have me shaking my head.
Washington Univ. – 20th last week
A trusted friend in the Midwest Region things the Bears are a Top 25 team and I agree with him, until they lose at home to Brandeis. Sure, on paper that shouldn’t be a surprised since Brandeis is clearly playing well. Except it was at home where Wash U. hadn’t lost all season and this is the Bears third loss in the UAA. Furthermore, Wash U is now 2-2 in the last four games. I watched the game against Brandeis and nothing impressed me. Something doesn’t seem to be working right now in St. Louis. Here is hoping they turn it around fast before they lose any chance of making the NCAA tournament.