Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 9

The carnage continues… or at least those who I don’t expect to be losing games are still losing. It was another week of head-scratching games and plenty of questions who should be in the Top 25. It also raised questions about teams I was pretty confident in or had moved up recently due to other data. It has been a wacky year to be sure with plenty of good teams to consider. Usually by this point in time you have a pretty good handle on who should be in the Top 25 and have a few that are just on the outside. However, this year I think the bottom half is a pick ’em and there are a number of teams I am considering that aren’t on my ballot.

If you will remember, last week I blew up my ballot and practically started over. I am certainly not doing that this week, but three teams dropped out of my poll with two more giving me plenty of reasons to drop them as well. That meant three new teams with one making a significant jump when I looked at their data and what they had been doing recently. I would say I am looking forward to things settling down, but the way things are shaping up, the next three weeks are going to be anything but settled.

Here is my ballot for this week’s Top 25:

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)

2 – Cabrini (Unchanged)
They got a good win against Gwynedd-Mercy and then rallied against an improved Rosemount squad while playing without one of the best players this season: Aaron Walton-Moss. Unfortunately, their game against Wesley for Monday was postponed due to weather for the second time this season and it is not looking good that it can be rescheduled. That will mean both teams and plenty of Division III fans will be missing out on one of the best games of the regular season.

3 – WPI (Up 1)

4 – Illinois Wesleyan (Up 1)

5 – Wash U. (Up 2)

6 – Wooster (Down 1)
The Scots are struggling it seems right now, though their only loss this past week was to a surging Ohio Wesleyan squad. I still think Wooster is one of the best teams in the country, but they have to get things tidied up in the coming weeks so they can position themselves well for the NCAA tournament.

7 – Wesley (Up 1)
The Wolverines are taking on all comers and winning the games they need to. Unfortunately, their game against Cabrini was once again postponed. I think they will do their best to find a date that works since it is an important game for SOS, vRRO, and other factors for both teams. However, even if they don’t get the game rescheduled, Wesley has a tough challenge ahead. They have Mary Washington, Christopher Newport, and St. Mary’s still to play in their final six conference games (only Mary Washington is on the road), so they have to take care of business in one of the toughest finishes in the country.

8 – UW-Whitewater (Up 1)
The Warhawks are quietly playing very, very good basketball. Wednesday’s rematch with UW-Stevens Point looms large, especially since coach Pat Miller will be off the bench due to surgery and former Pointer great Nick Bennett will coach UWW against his former team. I will have the chips and beer ready for Wednesday night!

9 – Amherst (Down 6)
Could the Lord Jeffs been looking ahead to their game against Bowdoin when they lost to Colby on Friday night? Who knows, but it was not a good result for a team who many claim is on track to another national title. As one Amherst alum put it to me, it was their worst loss in four years. Hats off to the Mules for pulling off the upset, but Amherst showed a lot of problems in that game and then scratched out a win against Bowdoin. I wonder if the Colby game (along with Emerson earlier this season) reveals more issues at Amherst then even their fans want to admit.

10 – St. Norbert (Unchanged)

11 – St. Thomas (Unchanged)

12 – Mary Washington (Unchanged)

13 – Williams (Up 1)

14 – Brockport State (Up 1)

15 – Ohio Wesleyan (Up 5)
I think the Battling Bishops are making a statement at the perfect time of the year. When I talked to coach Mike DeWitt at the beginning of the season, he indicated he didn’t think his team was the third best in the conference (as voted on by the coaches in the preseason poll) at the time. Now they look like they may be the best team in the conference. Big win over Wooster, but they have to stay focused with a struggling, but dangerous, Wittenberg squad next and DePauw in the last game of the season.

16 – Messiah (Unchanged)

17 – Randolph-Macon (Unranked)
Here come the Yellow Jackets once again, only this time they are on top of the ODAC. Remember how RMC made the NCAA tournament thanks in part to the best SOS numbers in the country and a ton (almost all) of their games featured those who had been regionally ranked (maybe one of the reasons the “once ranked, always ranked” rule was changed). Coach Nathan Davis once again has his team rolling and with wins over Virginia-Wesleyan, Hampden-Sydney, and Guilford in the last four games (did you see the Guilford score? 103-58!!!). The last time the Yellow-Jackets lost was on December 18 in a close game at Cabrini. I am not sure why I have been sleeping on this squad for so long.

18 – Bowdoin (Unchanged)
Unlike some voters, I don’t knock teams if they lose to teams I have ranked ahead of them. Isn’t that what my ranking indicates would happen? If #18 losses to then #3, then I shouldn’t demote #18 for the loss. Bowdoin dropped their game to Amherst, but by just three points. The Polar Bears are positioning themselves to host at least the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament and that could make them dangerous.

19 – Virginia Wesleyan (Up 4)
I am going to start calling the Marlins the Yo-Yos. They keep going up and down my ballot as a rough week is followed by a good week. A convincing win over Lynchburg was a very nice outcome and keeps them near the top with Hampden-Sydney and Guilford still to play in the regular season.

20 – Texas-Dallas (Down 3)
Welcome to my Top 25… and now lose. Not what I had hoped from the Comets thanks to a loss to Hardin-Simmons, but it is only their second loss of the season, so I am not willing to drop them completely from my ballot. They are controlling the ASC by three games and just need to play consistently good basketball the rest of the way.

21 – Whitworth (Up 4)

22 – Centre (Unranked)
I have been watching the Colonels for a few weeks as they have been playing better and better basketball, probably living up to some of the preseason expectations. Nine straight wins and an SOS that looks pretty solid has me jumping on the bandwagon. Of course as luck would have it, they have a game against Oglethorpe coming up on Friday. I know they beat the Stormy Petrels nearly two weeks ago, but that result will probably have no bearing on this game.

23 – Eastern Connecticut (Unranked)
Here is another team I have been watching for a few weeks. The Warriors have won eight of their nine games in 2014 (only loss to Amherst) and have a surprisingly good SOS number. They are in control of their own destiny in the Little East and probably on track to make a reappearance in the NCAA tournament.

24 – Oglethorpe (Down 5)
This drop is probably a bit steeper than I normally would have for a single loss in a week, but their loss to Birmingham-Southern put them in a tie for second place with BSC, two games behind Centre. Also, I was going to move them down and because they lost at home earlier this season to Centre, I had to move them somewhere behind the Colonels.

25 – Augustana (Down 12)
I seriously considered dropping the Vikings completely from my Top 25. They have lost three straight, albeit one of them to Wheaton (Ill.). However, the other two are to teams behind them in the CCIW and now Augustana finds itself two games back of the conference leaders two of those top dogs (Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage) to play in the next two games. If the Vikings don’t turn the ship around quickly, they could be out of the CCIW playoff race and thus out of consideration for the NCAA tournament.

Dropped out:

St. Mary’s (Md.) (Previously 21)
The newly revamped CAC has caused major problems for the Seahawks. Normally a loss to Salisbury late in the season wouldn’t be a big deal, but now SMC has five losses on the season with three of those losses coming to conference opponents. The Seahawks have Mary Washington, Christopher Newport, and Wesley in their final six games and cannot afford another loss if they still want to make the NCAA tournament. If SMC doesn’t win the automatic qualifier for the conference, that means they have taken at least one more loss in the conference tournament assuming they haven’t dropped at least one game against the previously mentioned three teams. The Seahawks are on very thin ice which could have a perennial favorite to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament watching 62 others teams play basketball.

DePauw (Previously 22)
The Tigers were surging until they apparently forgot they were playing Denison and Oberlin this past week. They barely got past Denison and then dropped their game against Oberlin. DePauw has proven they can beat Wittenberg and Wooster, but they have to play everyone well or they aren’t a Top 25 team.

Dickinson (Previously 24)
The Red Devils have found the worst time of the year to pick up conference losses. Their second in as many weeks was to Muhlenberg leaving them just a game ahead of McDaniel and Franklin & Marshall when they had been in control of the Centennial Conference. The conference is more competitive at the top than expected, but that may have more to do with Dickinson coming back to the group leaving the chance of an extra bid from this conference looking doubtful.

Other ballots:
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 3
Week 1

* – SOS numbers are from information sent to me by our friend KnightSlappy (alias on the D3boards).

14 thoughts on “Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 9

  1. My Top 25:

    WEEK 9
    1. Wis.-Stevens Point
    2. WPI
    3. Cabrini
    4. St. Norbert
    5. Washington (Mo.)
    6. Wesley
    7. Amherst
    8. Ohio Wesleyan
    9. Wis.-Whitewater
    10. Bowdoin
    11. Albertus Magnus
    12. Ill. Wesleyan
    13. Williams
    14. Wooster
    15. Mary Washington
    16. St. Thomas (Minn.)
    17. Messiah
    18. Virginia Wesleyan
    19. Wittenberg
    20. Brockport
    21. Dubuque
    22. Staten Island
    23. Marietta
    24. Texas-Dallas
    25. Rutgers-Newark

  2. Hey hey, my team’s beaten a ranked opponent! (at least ranked according to your list…) I’ll take it! And four of our losses come to your #1, #4, #8, and NAIA Div. 2 #6… (still doesn’t excuse lossing by 18 to Albion and 19 to Wheaton)

    How do you feel about Whitworth and the NWC in general? You moved Whitworth up four but without explanation. It seems to me that they lost by 18 in their only really non-conference test this season (It was to the Pointers, so this is more of a statement that the rest of their schedule is lackluster than a rebuke of that loss) Still, do wins against Willamette and Pacific really warrent a 4 place jump? I’d still bet on Oglethorp, Augustana, or DePauw to beat them in a head to head matchup.

    Perhaps I have an east/midwest bias, but I just don’t trust teams from the west coast…

    In the end, it probably doesn’t matter too much since they go to Puget Sound on Friday. A loss and I assume they fall. A win and and they make at least a small statement on why they deserve to be there.

    Thank you again for another article! I look forward to them every week!

  3. setheater – Whitworth could be a dangerous team that is hard to gauge when you are on the East Coast or in the Midwest. I have the luxury of having seen this team play two games in Vegas where they split against the number one team in the country and then UW-Platteville. I don’t think they are as strong as in years past when they have been a serious threat to get to Salem, but they are still a very strong unit who has won ten of their last eleven games since Vegas. Their move up four spots was honestly a spot filler. They were 25th… won two games… ran it to five in a row and ten of eleven… and I didn’t feel like the teams I slotted behind them were better than Whitworth. I didn’t make a comment because I didn’t have much to say about them and their move up since three teams ahead of them also dropped out.

    I don’t think their game against Puget Sound is note worthy besides the fact Puget Sound sits behind them in the rankings (by two games). The game ahead that I am keying on is Whitman. The Missionaires have won sight of nine since losing to UW-Stevens Point in Vegas despite not playing with their stud of a center (and reigning NWC POY) Ben Eisenhardt. That game will be the real test and statement for both teams with just one game left until the conference tournament.

    However, should Whitman lose, they probably do fall out of my next poll – assuming everything else holds firm and the loss isn’t a buzzer beater… in overtime… with the wind in their face… I could go on and on with the variables on why teams drop or don’t drop out of a poll.

  4. Dave, how bad does Hope’s 18 point loss at Albion hurt them? Losses @ Whitewater, @ Stevens Point, to Illinois Wesleyan, to Wheaton @ Calvin, and to Div. 2 NAIA #6 Cornerstone @ Calvin seem to all be forgivable losses… (by 20 to SP and 19 to Wheaton perhaps less forgivable, but they were the 2nd and 5th game of the year, and Hope starts 2 sophomores and a freshman who have matured a lot since those games)

    That 18 point loss @ Albion sticks out like a sore thumb. But wins against Centre earlier this season and Calvin twice (last night in dominating fashion) have me wondering where this team can go this season.

    I don’t expect a six loss team to crack your top 25 right now. However, do you see any way that if this team runs the table and beats Calvin again at home in the conference tournament, that Holland could end up hosting for the first round of playoffs? Or do Wooster, Wittenburg, Ohio Wesleyen, Marietta, DePauw… or nearby out of region options like Whitewater, Stevens Point, IWU, St. Norbert, and Augustana equate to too many schools that are “more deserving” of hosting? Obviously this team love playing at home (only home loss this year was to IWU in a game that was tied at halftime and could have been won)… so wishful thinking…

  5. Also, does the winner of the SAA not get an automatic bid? Does that mean Centre could get the Pool B bid? Could Oglethorpe then get a Pool C bid or no?

    What conferences do you see getting Pool C bids? Obiviously Whitewater and Stevens Point are getting in. Other obvious conferences seem to be the CAC, CCIW, NESCAC, and NCAC… but after that there seems to be a lot of teams floating around the same place. I realize a lot of this will be determined by conference tournaments and whether or not the teams that “should” win actually do.

  6. setheater – sorry for the delay in responding… been a bit busy recently.

    Hope needs to win the MIAA tournament or they have no shot at making the NCAA tournament. All of those games on the schedule are great and will certainly help boost the SOS, however they have lost six games on the schedule and you have to assume a seventh game should they be looking for a Pool C opportunity. Their vRRO will also be marginal since they have played games, but lost them against other ranked teams. Finally, they also have two games on their schedule that won’t even be considered by the committee. To be blunt, I think Calvin has played themselves into this scenario as well – of only getting an automatic bid this season.

    As for hosting, certainly anything is possible, but Hope will have a number of things going against them:
    – their loss numbers will not put them high enough in the regional rankings to beat out other GL region teams along with MW regional teams in hosting
    – they are not located in a geographically ideal place to get teams to their gym inside the 500 mile rule (in terms of teams from afar so there is a geographically diverse pod)
    – it will make more sense due to their record and their location to ship Hope somewhere else – remember Calvin was shipped out of Michigan for the first round despite their good record because their SOS was weak last year.

    Hosting means you are in the top two (at least) of your region or the neighboring regions and with all the teams you mentioned probably getting ranked ahead of Hope (as it looks now), having games in Holland is going to be a surprise – though we have a few weeks of basketball to play that can change a lot.

    The SAA does not get an automatic bid because they are just in their second year of eligibility. Any new conference has two years before they are granted an AQ (conversely, a conference that slips below the 7-team threshold has two years to get back to seven before they loses their AQ). Any conference (or independent teams) that does not have a chance at an AQ opportunity are put into Pool B. That means, after the AQs are designated (Pool A), then those in Pool B are then considered and the one bid allotted to Pool B is selected. Then all of those teams who didn’t get an AQ and didn’t get the Pool B selection are placed in Pool C (in other words, everyone else) and the at-large process begins. Yes, a team that does not have an AQ chance and did not get the Pool B selection could get a Pool C selection instead – it has happened before and right now it could happen again.

    I see a lot of conferences getting Pool C bids and multiple ones. There are the ones off the top of my head: WIAC, CCIW, NESCAC, ODAC, CAC, MIAC, NEWMAC, NCAC, MACC (maybe), UAA (maybe), SUNYAC (maybe). I am sure I might find more :).

    And yes… a ton of these things will be determined by conference tournaments and bubble busting upsets.

  7. Pingback: Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 10 · D3hoops.com Daily Dose

  8. “All of those games on the schedule are great and will certainly help boost the SOS, however they have lost six games on the schedule and you have to assume a seventh game should they be looking for a Pool C opportunity.”

    Hope currently has 5 D3 losses

    “- they are not located in a geographically ideal place to get teams to their gym inside the 500 mile rule (in terms of teams from afar so there is a geographically diverse pod)”

    Hope’s made the NCAA Tournament 7 times since 2006. We’ve hosted 2 first rounds “pods” in 2006 and 2012 when we were deserving. In 2008 was received a bye and hosted the 2nd round game. In 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 Hope qualified for the tournament by winning the AQ and didn’t have a good enough seeding to be considered for hosting.

    Geography has/had nothing to do with Hope’s ability or likelihood to host anything.

  9. Sac, I agree with your point, directly. However, I’m indirectly worried about Hope’s geography. Washington and the winner of the WIAC (Stevens-Point or Whitewater) appear to be locks to host. Anyone know who would host if Washington’s girls and guys both earned the right?

    I’m interested to see if the second place WIAC team hosts. I’m not worried about teams coming to Holland, I’m worried about the desire to ship Hope because they are close enough to do so but are also, as Dave said, “geographically diverse”… For instance, shipping Hope to Wooster adds a MI team in what reasonably could be an all Ohio pod.

    Last night, however, gave me some hope (no pun intended)… Three of the five teams ahead of Hope in the regional rankings lost. (and in ugly fashion to boot!) Ohio Wesleyan lost by 11 to Wabash (8-13), Marietta lost by 20 to Capital (10-12), and Wittenberg lost by 22 to DePauw (16-6)

    Now consider that Wittenberg plays at Wooster on Saturday and that Marietta and Mount Union play each other next Wednesday.

    If Hope can run the table (Alma, Kzoo, Adrian, and MIAA tounament)… Wooster, Ohio Wesleyan, Wittenberg will all play have to play each other in the NCAC tournament, so all of them except one are guaranteed at least one more loss. Marietta will have to play Mount Union in the OAC tournament final, so they could play each other two more times this year.

    It’s very reasonable to think Hope could jump up to #2 in the region with 5 wins. Dubuque (332), Augustana (298), Washington (424), Rose-Hulman (284), Wheaton (175), and Marrion (313) are less than 500 miles away.

    Hope also has the intangible of having the nicest facility in D3 hoops with 3,400 seats (which they will fill and then some)…

    Perhaps this is all moot, however. Hope’s girls should certainly be hosting. Anyone know who gets first priority this year if both get offered? It will be a travisty if Hope gets shipped to DePauw before the Final Four.

  10. Seth as Dave McHugh points out the women have hosting priority in even years. With the #2 ranking in the GL rankings the Hope women would be in line to potentially host a pod.

    I think there is a near 100% chance whoever the MIAA rep is going to be on the men’s side they will playing on the road.

  11. Of course I just screwed that up.

    Anyway it doesn’t change the fact I think the MIAA rep will be on the road the first weekend.

  12. Actually, I wrote the men have the hosting opportunity in the first weekend in even years. The women have the right in the second weekend (sectional round).

    And regional rankings of the two teams would have no relevance… if the men’s committee decides they want Hope men to host the first weekend, the Hope women could be #1 in the rankings, but they will hit the road all the same. Tough to say the least, but that is the only way they can keep it fair year in and year out.

  13. Pingback: Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 11 · D3hoops.com Daily Dose

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.