Chaos is the rule, not the exception, in the top 25 polls this week. Losses by four of the men’s top 10 teams last week means that this week’s top 10 has three new members; and losses by three of the top 4 women’s teams caused havoc in the upper echelon of the women’s poll, although the top 11 remained the top 11.
In the women’s poll, Scranton ascends to the #1 spot for the second time this season and the third time overall, joining an elite group of just 20 teams (8 women, 12 men) to reach the top of the poll at least three times. However, as Pat Coleman noted in his blog entry yesterday, the loss last night by the Royals likely means they will enter an even more elite group, joining the Wooster men as the only teams to surrender the #1 spot after just one week on three separate occasions. Last week’s #1 team, Bowdoin, benefitted by losses by Hope and Rochester (twice) to remain at #2, just two points from the top and in a prime position to regain their perch next week. Bowdoin’s vanquisher, Maine Maritime, came close to setting a new record for teams that had no points in the previous week, debuting in the top 25 at #19 with 195 points. (The women’s record for such a jump during the regular season is 199 points, set by Wheaton [IL] in 2002.)
On the men’s side, the loss by St. Thomas to rival St. John’s dropped the Tommies to #6 and helped to establish a distinct lead group of four teams: UW-Stevens Point, Amherst, Wooster, and defending champion Virginia Wesleyan. These are four teams that have had considerable recent success and are well-separated geographically; it would seem more likely than not that they will end up in different sectional brackets, and in my opinion would make an outstanding Final Four. The gap between #4 VWC and #5 Mississippi College is 48 points, or approximately two ballot positions. Losses by Wittenberg, Ohio Northern, and Elmhurst sent them tumbling out of the top 10, replaced by UW-Oshkosh, Hope, and Washington U. in the 8-10 spots. ONU is just 3-3 since defeating Wittenberg, Wooster, and UW-La Crosse and reaching the #2 slot three polls ago.
Women: #3 Messiah is a vote-getter for the 100th time. Congratulations to the Falcons! #8 Rochester and #14 Hardin-Simmons have each been in the top 25 for 10 straight weeks. Wheaton (IL) saw a 31-week voting streak go by the boards this week, and #11 Hope bade farewell to a 15-week string of top 10 appearances..
Men: #3 Wooster is a member of the top 25 for the 70th straight week, remaining two weeks shy of the continuing recordholder, #2 Amherst. Fourth-ranked Virginia Wesleyan has received voting support for 20 consecutive weeks, and Utica is a vote-getter for the tenth straight week since their debut in the final poll last season. #16 Wittenberg saw a 29-week string of top 10 appearances come to an end, and Baldwin-Wallace dropped out of the voting for the first time in 25 polls.
Women: #11 Hope is mentioned among the vote-getters for the 110th time, and Bridgewater (VA) is on the list for the 25th time. #10 DePauw is in the top 10 for the 30th time, and #18 Baldwin-Wallace is a ranked team for the 90th time.
Men: #10 Washington U. rejoins the top 10 this week, their 40th week as a member of this august group. #16 Wittenberg is a top 25 team for the 80th time, while #18 Aurora is ranked for the 10th time. Top-ranked UW-Stevens Point received votes for the 110th time this week; Chicago is a vote-getter for the 40th time; and (as noted above) Utica attracted votes for the 10th week, all of them consecutively.
Women: #19 Maine Maritime leapt from zero week 7 points to #19 in the week 8 poll, their first ranking ever. #4 Chicago parlayed a victory over then-#2 Rochester into the Maroons’ first-ever top 10 appearance.
Women: For the eighth consecutive week, Howard Payne University set a new all-time high ranking, this time at #6. Close on their heels, #4 Chicago reached a new high for the seventh straight week. Other team reaching their highest ranking in the eight-year history of the poll include #7 Calvin, #16 Illinois Wesleyan, and #21 Kean (tying their debut ranking of last week.)
Men: #5 Mississippi College broke into the top 5 for the first time ever. They are joined in the high-water category by #18 Aurora.
Movers and Shakers:
Women: Maine Maritime made the biggest move of the week, gaining (all of their) 195 points and leaping into the poll at #19. Fourth-ranked Chicago soared 148 points and 7 poll placements. Giving ground was Rochester, who lost twice and dropped 176 points and 6 placements. #11 Hope (-143 points/-7 spots) and #18 Baldwin-Wallace (-129/-6) also fell back this week.
Men: Two teams sustained enormous drops this week: #16 Wittenberg lost at Ohio Wesleyan and divested itself of 255 points and 10 spots in the poll, while then-#16 UW-La Crosse dropped two WIAC contests, costing them their position in the poll as well as 212 points. Most everyone that did not lose moved up modestly; the biggest gainers were #15 Occidental (+96 points/+2 position) and #8 UW-Oshkosh (+94/+4).