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.
#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.