Women’s Top 25 News and Notes, Week 6

The poll voters continue to recognize that there is an elite group of ten teams leading the field this season, even if they can’t quite decide in what order those ten teams should be ranked. The top 10 teams garnered 98.2% of their available votes this week (slightly down from last week’s towering 98.9%, but still more than decisive), and the gap between #10 (Brandeis) and #11 (Calvin) now stands at 78 points, or three full positions on the average ballot. At the top, defending champion #2 Hope stole one first-place vote from #1 Bowdoin, narrowing the gap between them to a mere five points. #3 Rochester held on to two first-place votes and gained 18 points on the strength of their victory over Brandeis, which fell three spots to #10. Of the seven total losses sustained this season by the top 10 teams, four were at the hands of other top 10 teams, and a fifth was to a D2 team (Mansfield, which beat #7 Messiah in November.)

The bottom three-fifths of the poll also looks quite similar to last week’s version, with only UW-Stevens Point slipping off the bottom, replaced by #25 Puget Sound. Only two teams dropped completely off the ballot this week (Carroll and Maryville [TN]), and only two teams joined the voting list (York [PA] and Oglethorpe, vanquishers of #9 DePauw.) All in all, another week of status quo.

This could be a challenging week for the elite teams, however. #1 Bowdoin plays four times, with all four opponents at .500 or better, including a date with 11-2 Williams. #2 Hope squares off with archrival #11 Calvin this weekend. #3 Rochester plays in the tough Chase Tournament. #6 Baldwin-Wallace travels to Wilmington on Saturday to face the 12th ranked Quakers. And #10 Brandeis squares off with #21 NYU in UAA competition this weekend.

> #5 Southern Maine is in the top 10 for the 30th straight week, and #4 Scranton is a top 10 team for the 20th week in a row.
> #10 Brandeis is ranked this week, as it has been for the past 40 consecutive weeks.
> Although Wheaton (IL) slipped to just 5 points, it still marked the 30th straight week that the Thunder received votes. #6 Baldwin-Wallace has received votes in 25 straight polls.

High-Water Marks:
#8 Howard Payne and #13 Chicago each achieved new all-time highest rankings this week. This is the fifth consecutive week the Maroons have met or exceeded their highest-ever ranking; for the Yellow Jackets, it is the sixth straight record tying or breaking week. Maybe I should start a new category: “High-Water Mark Streakers!”

> #2 Hope is a member of the top 10 for the 50th time.
> #25 Puget Sound‘s re-entry into the top 25 marks their 20th appearance in that group.
> #11 Calvin appears on the list of vote-getters for the 50th time.
> #1 Bowdoin received votes for the 90th time; Wheaton (IL) for the 80th time; Millikin for the 70th time; George Fox for the 60th time; and #20 Muhlenburg for the 40th time.
> Tease: there are two top 10 teams that have each appeared in the voting for 99 weeks. Tune in next week to help celebrate what are sure to be their centenary visits to the voting rolls!

Movers and Shakers:
In a week that had very little movement overall, the biggest jump was made by #13 Chicago, which gained 101 points and four slots in the poll. #9 DePauw shed 125 points and fell four places, and #17 Simpson also dropped four notches after losing 112 vote-points.

Men’s Top 25 News and Notes, Week 6

The Week 5 Top 25 recorded a composite record of 36-15 this week, with eleven ranked teams suffering losses. With so much carnage, a complete reevaluation of each voter’s ballot was called for. One result was the beginning of a separation between a leading group of nine teams and the rest of the pack. The top 9 teams received 4,654 votes out of a possible 4,725 (98.5%), and the gap between #9 (Mississippi College) and #10 (UW-Oshkosh) grew to 92 points, or nearly four positions on the average voter’s ballot. Last week’s #2, Ohio Northern, suffered its second double-digit homecourt loss of the season, a defeat which had ramifications throughout the top third of the poll. ONU’s seven first-place votes were in play, and six of them ended up in the hands of #1 UW-Stevens Point, allowing the Pointers to break free of a three-team logjam and establish themselves as the clear #1 team. ONU has already recorded wins over two other top 10 teams (#5 Wooster and #8 Wittenberg), giving the voters a dilemma over how to handle ONU’s loss. Some voters clearly thought it was important to keep ONU slotted ahead of Wooster, resulting in a 28-point drop in the Scots’ support (despite blasting their only opponent of the week,) while others evidently reconsidered the relative ranking of these two Ohio schools, as the gap between them, which had been 64 points, was reduced to a single point. The primary beneficiary of this conundrum seems to have been #3 St. Thomas, which gained 39 points and two poll positions despite struggling to a 2-point win and a double overtime win this week. #6 Whitworth also moved up strongly (+38), with the result being that the teams ranked #3 through #6 are essentially tied, with just ten points separating the #3 Tommies and the #6 Pirates.

Looking down the list, perhaps the most notable development is that the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) now has four teams ranked and two others receiving votes. The CCIW and its northern neighbor, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), are the only D3 conferences to achieve the distinction of having 4 teams ranked in the same week, and the CCIW is the smaller of the two conferences (8 teams vs. the WIAC’s 9). Alongside the CCIW, the eight-team University Athletic Association (UAA) had six teams receiving votes this week. The UAA and CCIW join the ten-team New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which had six teams in the voting in week 9 of the 1999-2000 season, and the WIAC, which has had 6 teams in the voting seven times (including the first two polls this season) and seven teams receive votes on four separate occasions, as the only conferences with six teams in the voting in a given week.

Fresh off its upset victory over then-#9 William Paterson, Manhattanville received votes for the first time this week. Congratulations to the Valiants!

> #5 Wooster is a top ten team for the 45th consecutive week, extending their record streak.
> #2 Amherst is a top 25 team for the 70th straight week, also a record.
> #9 Mississippi College and #23 Worcester Polytech each received votes for the 30th consecutive week; #4 Ohio Northern is a vote-getter for the 20th straight time.
> Lawrence dropped out of the top 25 for the first time since last season’s preseason poll, snapping a ranking string at 20 straight weeks.

> #7 Virginia Wesleyan is a top 10 team for the tenth time, and a top 25 team for the 25th time.
> #2 Amherst is ranked for the 75th week.
> #16 Washington U. is in the top 25 for the 50th time, and received votes for the 70th time.
> #6 Whitworth appears on the voting list for the 50th time. For #19 Johns Hopkins, this is the 30th appearance, and #12 Bates has now drawn voting support ten times.

High-Water Marks:
#3 St. Thomas, #12 Bates, and #20 UW-La Crosse each set new marks for highest-ever ranking this week. #6 Whitworth equalled its highest point, first achieved last week.

Movers and Shakers:
> The biggest gainers of the week were #14 Elmhurst, gaining 178 points and vaulting into the top 25; #10 UW-Oshkosh, leaping eight spots and 173 points; and #16 Washington U., up 142 points and 8 placements.
> Averett dropped three straight games and plummeted out of the poll from the #11 spot, shedding 328 points in the process.