Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 11

I have no confidence in about 99% of the Division III teams, right now. None.

I talked to a few of the Top 25 voters this week as either I reached out to them to get their take on a few teams or they reached out to me and the one thing I quickly figured out: this is getting harder and harder. That may not mean something to non-voters or general Division III fans, but trust me when I say that this time of the season usually means less work on the Top 25 because teams have proven themselves and are ready for the last few weeks of the season.

Not this year.

I have almost no faith in my picks anymore. I have no confidence that where I have a team slotted is actually where they should be. I have a lot of confidence that I have some teams too high on my ballot and as a result I find myself stuck in no-man’s-land when dealing with losses even if a host of teams behind a team that has lost didn’t lose (see Cabrini).

I joked with one pollster that I want to submit my ballot with UW-Stevens Point number one… and leave the rest of the ballot blank. Not that no other team is a Top 25 squad, but because none of the teams I have in my Top 25 really seem like they deserve their ranking – they all may be too high!

And Cabrini really had me debating. Not necessarily because they lost, but because of who was behind them and how that would impact where they sat in the rankings. I actually changed my mind at least four times and came up with four different solutions… not liking any of them. I ended up staying pat with last week in hopes the coming week can give some better clarity.

As I begin, here is a reminder of last week’s ballot.

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)

2 – Cabrini (Unchanged)
This will shock people and I really don’t know what to say. I could explain it six ways to Sunday and still not necessarily agree with it myself. It came down to a few things: was the loss to Baptist Bible bad? Yes. Was the last two weeks for Cabrini strange? Yes. Are they getting healthy again? Seem to be. Am I comfortable bringing other teams up to the number-two spot? No. Aaron Walton-Moss appears to be headed back from his injury and to paraphrase Mike Show from Baptist Bible, he is still a very dangerous player even on just one leg. This team does have a weak conference and their SOS shows that, but a weak schedule hasn’t stopped the Cavs from being minutes away from a national championship two years ago and making a challenging run to the elite eight last season. I am willing to trust my gut and Coach Markus Kahn on this one, but could I regret this decision in a week? Yes.

3 – Illinois Wesleyan (Unchanged)
Yeah, the Titans were knocking on the door of number-two thanks to Cabrini’s loss, but I just don’t feel they are the second-best team in the country… or even third-best. They have three-losses all in conference and could even lose the regular-season title to quirky Wheaton (Ill.) should they lose to the Thunder this week. Can I really be comfortable putting the Titans that far up my ballot if they may not even be the one-seed in their own conference tournament to a team I have on the outside-looking-in of my ballot? Yikes.
(EDIT: I mistakenly stated IWU has three-losses in conference, they indeed have two. I was thinking if they lost to Wheaton, they would pick up a third loss and incorrectly added that to their total. Furthermore, I should state that saying “they would lose the regular-season title” I meant they would lose the #1 seed. My good friend Bob Quillman pointed out my mistakes and I am grateful.)

4 – Wash U. (Unchanged)
More of the same with the Bears of Washington University. I have stated in past weeks I am nervous with this team this far up in ballot and I know I am not the only one thinking that. Again, had I moved Cabrini down it probably would have resulted in Wash U. moving up to number three and that simply makes me cringe. I like how the Bears are playing and they are rolling away with the UAA title, but I am not sure their conference standing is a sign of how good the Bears are or proves that the rest of the UAA took a step back (or for some more than one) this season.

5 – Wooster (Unchanged)
I seriously considered moving Wooster down this week not for what they did on the court, but for what the rest of the conference did – or didn’t do. The Scots now have a two-game lead in a conference that doesn’t have anyone really stepping up at this point in the season. If ever I would to demote a team for what the rest of the conference was doing, this would be it. However, I also thought it wouldn’t be fair to Wooster… for now.

6 – UW-Whitewater (Unchanged)

7 – Amherst (Unchanged)

8 – St. Norbert (Unchanged)

9 – St. Thomas (Unchanged)

10 – Williams (Unchanged)

11 – Wesley (Unchanged)

12 – WPI (Unchanged)

13 – Brockport State (Up 2)

14 – Texas-Dallas (Up 2)
Here is about the point in the ballot I am ready to throw things around and scream bloody murder… and maybe it actually starts with Brockport State as well. These teams seem too high up. In fact, they probably are too high up. Texas-Dallas is having a good year, but honestly their only resume highlight is that they are cruising in their conference. They also probably have to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament thanks to the new 22-game schedule the ASC has implemented (though the Comets are #2 in the South Regional Rankings in Week 1). The second half of my ballot is nuts.

15 – Randolph-Macon (Down 1)
This may surprise people since the Yellow Jackets lost to Eastern Mennonite this past week, but to me I considered a couple of things. This was RMC’s first loss since losing a close game at Cabrini on December 18, Eastern Mennonite actually has some solid wins this season, the game was on the road, and the ODAC has probably more parity from top to bottom this season then in a long time (ten of the twelve teams have above-.500 records right now). Coach Nathan Davis has proven he can get his team clicking late in the season, so I can’t fault a single loss in the last fifteen games. One other factor, there was enough turmoil in the lower half of my Top 25 ballot that there was only so far for the Yellow Jackets to fall.

16 – Whitworth (Up 2)
Guh… I am pretty sure this is too high for the Bucs. I like how Whitworth plays and they are well coached, but my concerns coming out of Las Vegas have not changed. They are short on the bench, especially on the inside, and they sometimes lack the fire power they need to put teams away. Those concerns had me keeping Whitworth low on my ballot ever since. Now they are sneaking up and I am not thrilled. Sure, I am not surprised George Fox took them to the wire, but that is a game Whitworth needed to make a statement with.

17 – Purchase State (Up 3)

18 – Mary Washington (Down 5)
Frederick, the Eagles have landed! Mary Washington has lost three straight games in conference action and each of those losses I have a problem with. Salisbury: sure the Seagulls are tough, but if the Eagles are that good they win. Christopher Newport: a game that Mary Washington needed to use as a way to forget about Salisbury and stay in great position on top of the conference. Wesley: certainly not a surprise that the Wolverines won, but Mary Washington didn’t even look like a factor in the game. Maybe Mary Washington has peaked too early and if that is the case it is a shame because Mary Washington had been having one of the best seasons in program history. Oh, and they only feel five spots because I couldn’t imagine teams behind them ahead of them.

19 – Albertus Magnus (Up 3)

20 – Ohio Wesleyan (Down 3)
I will admit, along with Mary Washington, I may have had the Battling Bishops up too high. Just the single loss to Wabash may not have resulted in dropping three spots, but Ohio Wesleyan is now 2-2 in the last four and if you look at their overtime win, it was to 5-18 Alleghany. Maybe the NCAC race was too good to be true.

21 – Centre (Down 2)

22 – Rose-Hulman (Unranked)
Believe it or not, the Engineers have won 16 of their last 17 games and seem to be playing the best basketball when it counts the most. They also have a potential All-American in Julian Strickland leading the way with more than 25 points a game and leading in almost every other category as well. Rose-Hulman had a disappointing finish to last season, but this is an experienced squad who may be a dark horse depending on the set-up in the NCAA tournament.

23 – Staten Island (Up 2)

24 – Scranton (Unranked)
Against my better judgment, I placed the Royals into my ballot. I know they have only lost three games this season and their SOS is surprisingly high, but if there is one conference I know very, very well… it is the Landmark and nothing impresses me about this conference this season. Juniata has disappointed, Catholic has not been as good as expected, and the rest of the conference is playing at about an “ok” level. Certainly there is more parity this season in the conference, but that doesn’t mean the teams are good. Welcome to my Top 25 Royals, just don’t let me regret the decision (I am already regretting being a Top 25 voter this season).

25 – Richard Stockton (Unranked)
WHAT AM I DOING?! I am getting desperate, I think, to find teams that seem to fit in the Top 25. I have been watching the Ospreys for a while, but just have not been impressed with their resume, the NJAC, or anything else for that matter. However, they have won 20 games and are now at least tied for the top of the conference. I just have a feeling I am grasping at straws and happen to grab Richard Stockton’s from the other fifteen potential candidates.

Dropped Out:

Messiah (Previously 21)
Considering who I put into my Top 25, maybe pulling the Falcons out was too rash. However, they lost their second game to Stevenson (this time at home) and now all of their losses are conference losses. Messiah has had the chance several times this year to put their stamp on the conference, but can’t seem to put teams away and may have more match-up problems than I realized when watching them last month. Time will tell if this was a rash decision.

Bowdoin (Previously 23)
I really like how the Polar Bears have played this season, but the loss to Tufts coupled with the fact it was their second loss in three games makes me concerned the Polar Bears are on thin ice. Could they have peaked too early? They can prove myself and others wrong or right by how they perform in the NESCAC tournament which starts this weekend.

Dubuque (Previously 24)
I should have seen this coming. The only other time I placed Dubuque in my Top 25, they promptly lost. This time they lost both games (Loras and Central) and now probably won’t make the NCAA tournament unless they win their conference. I wanted to route for the underdog here, but they are making it hard to believe they can meet the challenge.

Other ballots:
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 3
Week 1

12 thoughts on “Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 11

  1. Hope’s losses are to the now #1, #2, #4, NAIA D2 #4, #32 (in voting), and an ugly loss @Albion…

    The only one of those at home was Illinois Wesleyen. And they have wins against Centre, Carthage, @Thomas More, and twice against Calvin…

    I realize six losses is not good. But five of them came in their first seven games and they start 2 sophomores and freshman. Now that you have 4 and 5 loss teams in your rankings, they have to be on your radar. . They’ve won 14 of their last 15, including 9 in a row by an average of winning by 17 points per game. OWU has 5 losses to lesser opponents and yet is nubmer 20 on your list. Centre has 4 losses, one of which is to Hope, and they are number 21 on your list. And how does Mary Washington lose three in a row and stay in your rankings!? I’ll give them a pass against Wesley, but Salisbury and Christopher Newport? And you still have them at 15?!

  2. Well, Hope is on my short list. I just have a weird feeling I can’t shake to make the jump. They certainly have the resume for me pulling the trigger, I just think Albion game still worries me. That being said, a lot of teams have a lot of things that worry me as I have indicated for weeks. Don’t fret, if I am looking for new teams to add, Hope will be one of them I am sure (baring reasons to the contrary).

    As for OWU: they may have lesser losses, but they also have bigger wins (i.e. Wooster) and had been on a tear like Hope is on. You can’t look at just one side of the coin.

    As for UMW: I stated my opinion on things, but don’t discount Salisbury or CNU. First off, the CAC is much stronger than the MIAA especially in the top 2/3rds and we are usually talking about CNU going a few games deep in the NCAA tournament each year. They are in a new conference that is having its best season probably in history. Yes, they have lost three in a row… but read my explanation for why they are “stuck” where they are. Oh… and they aren’t in my Top 15… they are #18 falling five spots this past week.

  3. I agree with the look at both sides of the coin, agreement. I began my response as more of a question, “Where is Hope on your radar?” but obviously my bias swung the pendulum a little further than I had intended.

    I don’t buy the “historically” argument. By that logic, you can twist in facts like, “ten MIAA teams have made at least the second round of the playoffs in the last nine years”, to argue that the MIAA is better than they are.

    Furthermore, if Hope doesn’t go out to Wisconsin and play their first two games @ Whitewater and @ Stevens Point and instead play another home tournament against less-than foes, they’re suddenly 19-4 (18-3 against D3) and probably sitting somewhere between 15 and 20.

    As always, I appreciate your weekly update. I think every voter, and at every level, should have to post and justify their rankings. I might not like that you have Randolph-Macon at 15 or Mary Washington at 18, but I like (and certainly respect) knowing that’s where you put them and why… Now if only the voters that left Wittenberg at 22 would let me know what they were thinking I could sleep easier at night 🙂

  4. Dave, historically, how reliable of an indicator are the NCAA’s regional rankings for the playoff selection process…

    I can’t help but notice that the NCAA does not agree with St. Thomas’ lofty ranking. D3Hoops rankings the Tommies 5th, the NCAA ranks them 5th IN THEIR REGION behind Augustana and Wheaton. Could they be on the road the first week of the playoffs despite going 19-1?

    Similarly, WPI is ranked 5th in the Northeast, behind E.Connecticut and Babson. If they lose to Babson in the NEWMAC Championship game, could your, and D3hoops’, #12 team miss out on the playoffs entirely?

    Oh, and the #2 team in the midwest put up 110 points last night… That’s 10 straight wins by an average of 19 points. I think it’s time to put them in your top 25, just saying 🙂

  5. The regional rankings ARE the NCAA selection process. Those lists will be the order teams make it from the tournament from each region. Once you remove the AQ teams, you are left with a list of teams from 1-whatever (and beyond the number “listed” for each region). The top remaining team from each region is brought to the table along with the other top teams from each region and a team is selected. A team from the region that just had a team selected replaces said team and the process starts over.

    The way the NCAA is looking right now, St. Norbert could very well hit the road, but there are still two regional rankings left and if SNC were to keep winning, they may move ahead of teams because those teams are bound to lose (IWU, Augustana, and Wheaton: at least two of those teams are losing one more game in the next 10 days). That being said, what teams are selected and eventually how the brackets are put together will be more a deciding factor on who will host.

    And yes… a team like WPI not making the NCAA tournament despite their national rankings would not be a first. However, keep something in mind: WPI would probably end up pretty high on the rankings for the Northeast come selection time because so many of the teams ahead of them will be taken off the list due to receiving AQs. That means WPI or other teams in their situation will be at the selection table early on.

    Another quick note: remember that the NCAA criteria which results in the regional rankings and eventually the at-large and hosting decisions is very different than the Top 25 voters. Top 25 voters can make their decisions based on whatever they want to consider. The NCAA has specific criteria the committees must follow.

    And as for your #2 team in the midwest putting up 110 points and not being in my Top 25… who are you talking about? IWU is #2 and I most certainly have them in my Top 25.

  6. Crap! Typos left and right. I should learn that proofreading is my friend. I meant Great Lake, but by now, I’m sure you were aware of that. Great insite on teams getting losses…

  7. D3hoops Atlantic Region – NCAA data sheet
    16 1 SUNY-Purchase lost to St. Joseph’s (9-16)
    26 2 Richard Stockton 20-4 20-4
    – 3 Rutgers-Newark 18-6 18-6 1 Kean (14-12)
    45 4 William Paterson 19-5 19-5 0
    21 5 Staten Island 22-2 22-2 0
    – 6 Mt. St. Mary 17-5 17-5 0

    East – NCAA data sheet
    14 1 Brockport State 19-2 20-2 1 Oswego State (16-9)
    42 2 Plattsburgh State 18-4 18-4 0
    33 3 Geneseo State 17-4 18-4 1 Cortland State (14-11)
    – 4 Hobart 18-6 18-6 0
    – 5 Stevens 14-7 16-7 1 Hartwick (16-9)
    – 6 New York University 15-7 15-7 1 Emory (17-7)

    Great Lakes – NCAA data sheet
    8 1 Wooster 19-2 20-3 0
    29 2 Hope 16-5 17-6 0
    18 3 Ohio Wesleyan 18-5 18-5 1 DePauw (18-7)
    4 Bethany 18-4 19-4 0
    37 5 Mount Union 19-4 19-4 1 Willmington (16-8)
    46 6 Marietta 17-5 18-5 1 Mount Union (20-5)
    22 7 Wittenberg 17-6 17-6 0

    Mid-Atlantic – NCAA data sheet
    25 1 Scranton 20-3 20-3 0
    6 2 Cabrini 20-1 20-1 0
    10 3 Wesley 18-2 20-2 0
    31 4 Dickinson 19-4 19-4 1 Franklin and Marshall (17-8)
    41 5 Messiah 18-4 18-4 1 Alvernia (18-7)
    – 6 Stevenson 16-7 16-7 0
    19 7 Mary Washington 17-5 18-5 0
    – 8 Alvernia 16-7 16-7 0
    – 9 Hood 16-7 16-7 2 Alvernia (18-7) and Lycoming (13-11)

    Midwest – NCAA data sheet
    3 1 Washington U. 20-2 20-2 0
    4 2 Illinois Wesleyan 20-3 20-3 0
    32 3 Wheaton (Ill.) 17-7 17-7 2 North Central (14-11) and IWU (20-3)
    30 4 Augustana 18-6 18-6 0
    5 5 St. Norbert 19-1 20-1 0
    – 6 Carthage 14-8 15-9 1 Illinois Wesleyan (22-3)
    24 7 Rose-Hulman 19-4 19-4 1 Mount St. Joseph (16-8)
    47 8 Milwaukee Engineering 20-4 20-4 1 Edgewood (12-14)

    Northeast – NCAA data sheet
    7 1 Amherst 21-2 21-3 0
    9 2 Williams 20-3 21-3 0
    28 3 Babson 18-5 18-5 0
    40 4 Eastern Connecticut 18-5 18-5 0
    12 5 WPI 20-3 20-3 0
    27 6 Bowdoin 19-4 19-4 1 Trinity (Conn.) (15-10)
    49 7 Springfield 15-6 16-6 0
    15 8 Albertus Magnus 21-1 21-2 0
    – 9 Rhode Island College 16-7 16-7 1 Mass-Dartmouth (15-10)
    – 10 Nichols 18-5 18-5 0
    – 11 Middlebury 15-8 16-8 1 Amherst (22-3)

    South – NCAA data sheet
    20 1 Randolph-Macon 18-5 18-5 0
    43 2 Virgina Wesleyan 16-6 17-6 0
    – 3 Emory 15-7 15-7 0
    17 4 Texas-Dallas 21-2 21-2 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-8)
    23 5 Centre 15-3 18-4 0
    – 6 Guilford 16-6 16-6 2 Vir. Wes. (19-6) and Emory and Henry (4-21)
    35 7 Oglethorpe 17-4 19-4 2 Birmingham-Southern (16-9) and Millsaps (8-15)
    – 8 Hardin-Simmons 16-6 16-7 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-8)

    West – NCAA data sheet
    1 1 UW-Stevens Point 22-1 22-1 0
    2 2 UW-Whitewater 21-3 21-3 0
    11 3 St. Thomas 20-3 20-3 1 St. John’s (Minn.) (15-10)
    38 4 St. Olaf 18-5 18-5 0
    39 5 Dubuque 17-3 20-3 1 Buena Vista (13-12)
    13 6 Whitworth 19-4 19-4 1 Lewis and Clark (17-8)
    – 7 Pomona-Pitzer 16-5 16-7 0
    – 8 Colorado College 14-5 16-6 1 Univ. of Dallas (11-13)
    – 9 Augsburg 16-7 16-7 0

  8. Atlantic Region – NCAA data sheet
    16 1 SUNY-Purchase lost to St. Joseph’s (9-16)
    26 2 Richard Stockton
    – 3 Rutgers-Newark lost to Kean (14-12)
    45 4 William Paterson
    21 5 Staten Island
    – 6 Mt. St. Mary

    East – NCAA data sheet
    14 1 Brockport State lost to Oswego State (16-9)
    42 2 Plattsburgh State
    33 3 Geneseo State lost to Cortland State (14-11)
    – 4 Hobart 18-6 18-6
    – 5 Stevens 14-7 16-7 lost to Hartwick (16-9)
    – 6 New York University lost to Emory (17-7)

    Great Lakes – NCAA data sheet
    8 1 Wooster
    29 2 Hope
    18 3 Ohio Wesleyan lost to DePauw (18-7)
    4 Bethany
    37 5 Mount Union lost to Willmington (16-8)
    46 6 Marietta lost to Mount Union (20-5)
    22 7 Wittenberg

    Mid-Atlantic – NCAA data sheet
    25 1 Scranton
    6 2 Cabrini
    10 3 Wesley
    31 4 Dickinson lost to Franklin & Marshall (17-8)
    41 5 Messiah lost to Alvernia (18-7)
    – 6 Stevenson
    19 7 Mary Washington
    – 8 Alvernia

    Midwest – NCAA data sheet
    3 1 Washington U.
    4 2 Illinois Wesleyan
    32 3 Wheaton lost to N. Central (14-11) & IWU (20-3)
    30 4 Augustana
    5 5 St. Norbert
    – 6 Carthage lost to Illinois Wesleyan (22-3)
    24 7 Rose-Hulman lost to Mount St. Joseph (16-8)
    47 8 Milwaukee Eng. lost to Edgewood (12-14)

    Northeast – NCAA data sheet
    7 1 Amherst
    9 2 Williams
    28 3 Babson
    40 4 Eastern Connecticut
    12 5 WPI
    27 6 Bowdoin lost to Trinity (Conn.) (15-10)
    49 7 Springfield
    15 8 Albertus Magnus
    – 9 R.I. College lost to Mass-Dartmouth (15-10)
    – 10 Nichols
    – 11 Middlebury lost to Amherst (22-3)

    South – NCAA data sheet
    20 1 Randolph-Macon
    43 2 Virgina Wesleyan
    – 3 Emory
    17 4 Texas-Dallas lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-8)
    23 5 Centre
    – 6 Guilford lost to Vir. Wes. (19-6) & Emory and Henry (4-21)
    35 7 Oglethorpe lost to Birmingham-Southern (16-9) & Millsaps (8-15)
    – 8 Hardin-Simmons lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-8)

    West – NCAA data sheet
    1 1 UW-Stevens Point
    2 2 UW-Whitewater
    11 3 St. Thomas lost to St. John’s (Minn.) (15-10)
    38 4 St. Olaf
    39 5 Dubuque lost to Buena Vista (13-12)
    13 6 Whitworth lost to Lewis & Clark (17-8)
    – 7 Pomona-Pitzer
    – 8 Colorado College lost to Univ. of Dallas (11-13)
    – 9 Augsburg

  9. Number on left is ranking according to D3 hoops. Next number is ranking regionally last week according to the NCAA… After that, I listed who each team lost to and the record of that team (because losses to Amherst or Illinois Wesleyan are more forgivable that to Millsaps or Emory and Henry…

  10. Some considerations…

    Pool B – Centre (is anyone else close?)

    Pool C Locks: WIAC #2, NESCAC #2, NESCAC #3, SUNYAC #2

    Close to Locks: ODAC #2, MIAC #2, CCIW #2, UAA #2, NEWMAC #2

    In for now: MACC #2, CAC #2, NCAC #2, SUNYAC #3, NCAC #3, OAC #2

    Bubble: Everyone else for the last 4 spots…

    (obviously this is my opinion/take-aways…

  11. Pingback: Dave’s Top 25 ballot – Week 12 · D3hoops.com Daily Dose

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