Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’17-’18): Week 8

Joey Hewitt and Whitman continue to be Dave’s top pick in his Top 25 ballot.

First of all, let me apologize my Top 25 blog out last week. It was an odd week and having Hoopsville on Monday afternoon to “compliment” the time usually spent the work on my weekly ballot… time got away from me.

It is too bad, because there was a lot to talk about. Most of it can still be covered this week. However, before we get to this week’s ballot, here is last week’s along with notation of any movement related to Week 7‘s ballot:

1 – Whitman (Unchanged)
2 – WashU (Up 1)
3 – Wittenberg (Up 4)
4 – UW-Whitewater (Up 5)
5 – UW-Oshkosh (Up 5)
6 – St. John’s (Up 2)
7 – York (Pa.) (Down 1)
8 – UW-River Falls (Down 3)
9 – MIT (Up 3)
10 – Augustana (Down 8)
11 – Hamilton (Up 9)
12 – Williams (Down 8)
13 – Wesleyan (Down 2)
14 – John Carroll (Up 3)
15 – New Jersey City (Down 1)
16 – Emory (Unranked)
17 – Middlebury (Up 8)
18 – UW-Platteville (Up 5)
19 – Ohio Wesleyan (Down 6)
20 – Swarthmore (Up 3)
21 – Whitworth (Unchanged)
22 – Baldwin Wallace (Down 6)
23 – Nichols (Up 1)
24 – Emory & Henry (Unranked)
25 – Illinois Wesleyan (Unranked)

Actual GIF of Dave at his desk last week doing his ballot (ok, not really, but pretty good impersonation!)

Last week was nuts. I could have ranked teams in the 10 to 25 spots in any order. I wanted to put them all in the 20th slot or maybe the 17th. I found most of them somewhat equal for all kinds of different reasons and was going around and around (and around) in what order to put them. Those high felt too high; those low felt too low. Flip them and they still felt wrong.

On Sunday’s “Top 25 Double-take” on Hoopsville (below), Ryan stated this was maybe his easiest week voting in the Top 25. I didn’t find it easy. His perspective is different. I think he had twice as many teams on his radar than I did (I had 45 in Week 7 that I was considering), so if he does any kind of whittling of his list it is probably going to feel easy. However, Ryan also said he thought his order was more set than in the past. That was me several weeks ago. I thought I had my order and with so many losses happening within the group the way it was ordered, I felt good.

That feeling is gone. I don’t have any sense of order right now. Last week I couldn’t really settle on 10-25 with any satisfaction. This week that got more problematic.

So, I tried to overhaul things. Kind of like blowing up my ballot, but with the element of trying to use information I hadn’t been leaning prior (basically because I didn’t have the time). This week, I talked with some coaches some of whom reached out to me. There are a number of coaches I trust when it comes to their judgement and eye. They are the kind who will be frank and give it to me straight even if it is at the detriment of their team. They might resort to “coach’s speak” when on Hoopsville, but they don’t do that when we talk off-air. I appreciate that and this week I get a little bit of an idea of how some of them saw things. It was invaluable and helped me see things maybe in a different way.

I got more aggressive this week in an effort to find answers to questions that were stumping me. I also was trying to grasp with the WIAC-yness of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. I went deeper outside the Top 25 packet of information, and my radar, to see what I might be missing. This included double-checking some conferences races to see if I had missed a team who had heated up.

That look Dave gets when dealing with a “gap” in the ballot and UWSP leading the WIAC by two games. LOL

The one major problem I ran into: a massive gap in my Top 25. While I was confident in my top nine last week, that was quickly cut to just the top four. After that… I didn’t want to rank anyone until at the least the tenth spot. You might hear me and others say that and think it is just a talking-point used as an example. However, I actually practiced the idea this week. I put down my top four, then skipped to putting teams where I felt they seemed right. I didn’t have any teams until the tenth spot. As I worked through my list of teams, no one made me want to put them in 5-9. I was left with a list that went 1-4 and then 10-whatever (I sometimes rank teams beyond 25 especially when I am looking to move teams in and out of the poll despite decent weeks).

I spent a good amount of time trying to convince myself to move teams into the gap ahead of my teams in 10-15, for example. It wasn’t happening. Yes, I could make arguments for them to move up, but they weren’t convincing and full of holes in my opinion.

What resulted was a massive jump up into a territory I don’t know is accurate for some teams. Others stayed around where they had been despite not the best of weeks. And others didn’t move down nearly as far as I intended to move them. Even looking back at the ballot 24 hours later, I don’t like the results. It feels like a jumbled mess, but all this time later I don’t have any answers and I don’t have that, dreaded, moment where I realize a solution and made the mistake of not voting accordingly.

With that, here is my D3hoops.com Top 25 ballot for Week 8. Notes for a lot of these teams, which makes the read longer (apologies), but some people seem interested:

1 – Whitman (Unchanged)
The Blues don’t blow me away, but no one has beaten them and they have taken on some solid challenges. I think last year’s squad was better, but that doesn’t mean this year’s team can’t make the same run or even win a championship this time around. The straw that stirs this team’s drink is not Tim Howell. They have other guys who are the keys and the fact they have more than one threat makes them tough to beat.

WashU has impressed and moved up to be knocking on the door of No. 1 on Dave’s ballot (shh, he’s even considered them for the top spot!).

2 – WashU (Unchanged)
I got a text message out of the blue from a coach who simply said, “this is a final four team.” WashU has incredible senior leadership this season that has been building for the last few years. They are dominating, by their standards, their opponents and it is has been impressive to watch. They are not perfect, clearly, but they seem to be improving when others don’t seem to be. They still have Emory and Rochester ahead in UAA play (twice each, same weekend, both), but I like what the Bears have produced so far.

3 – Wittenberg (Unchanged)
Several coaches and another contact basically didn’t mince words when it came to the Tigers: they are damn good. Maybe this season is happening an year earlier than some expected, but Wittenberg’s coaching staff have a team on their hands that seems nearly unbeatable. I don’t think they get through NCAC play unscathed. I think Ohio Wesleyan could trip them up the second time around and Wooster is improving as well, however Wittenberg should be a team to watch out for especially if they have home court advantage until Salem.

4 – St. John’s (Up 2)
I’ve been high on the Johnnies since the beginning of the year, though nervously. In years past, SJU eventually showed flaws and took hits by this time of the season. Not this year. Last week showed me a lot with a beatdown of Macalester (not looking past the Scots) and then a strong 15-point win over St. Thomas. St. John’s is in the right place to end the Tommies dominance of the MIAC, but the target is only getting bigger.

From this point on, consider teams five spots below where they are on my ballot. That may help you understand where I truly think teams are in the Top 25… not where I had to put them because I needed to fill the gap.

Emory skyrocketed up Dave’s ballot, thanks to good play and a huge gap that needed to be filled. (Courtesy: Emory Athletics)

5 – Emory (Up 11)
Yeah. Wow. Big jump here for the Eagles. I know I have them far higher than where they are on the ballot. Seems appropriate for how many teams this situation is flipped. Emory hasn’t lost since their bad loss to Hamden-Sydney at the beginning of December. Emory seems to be getting stronger, much like WashU, and has dispatched teams rather convincingly in a lot of cases. They have a huge test ahead: Chicago and WashU on back-to-back weekends. They at least get to start the home-and-home series in Atlanta.

6 – Middlebury (Up 11)
I have stated a number of times, especially on Hoopsville, that I think Middlebury is the best team in the NESCAC. However, they didn’t seem very good after the holiday break. Losing three of five nearly had them slide right off my ballot. It appears the Panthers have solved their woes and have turned the ship around. Last week saw them beat Williams after a huge battle with tough-to-beat Albertus Magnus. I like Middlebury. I don’t love Middlebury. They may be the best team in a conference that is overrated in terms of top-end strength.

7 – Baldwin Wallace (Up 15)
The win over John Carroll was the result I was looking for from the Yellow Jackets. I know I am higher on BWU than most voters. The loss to Ohio Northern on January 10 probably gave many pause. I get that. I also don’t think they are a Top 10 team, but here they are this week. The road doesn’t get easier, but the difference between this Baldwin Wallace team and others, they are still in the conversation – if not controlling it – in late January.

8 – York (Pa.) (Down 1)
The Spartans have pieces that almost any team in the country would love to have, including two centers/forwards who can play the four position and even step out and shoot the three for percentage. However, they aren’t as deep as I thought they would be. Their starting five all scores in double-figures which is outstanding, but the drop-off after that is significant. In other words, they can’t get into foul trouble. An improving Mary Washington team handed YCP their first loss of the season on the road. Not surprising York lost – they were bound to lose – but, I think it puts far more pressure on them to beat Christopher Newport, also on the road, than it did prior. Let’s see how the Spartans deal with pressure.

9 – MIT (Unchanged)
The loss to Springfield surprised me. Springfield has been all over the map, literally, this season. They have one of the best guards in New England, but they haven’t been able to raise their game against top competition. I figured, the Engineers would get a battle against the Pride, but not to be down big and have to rally back … and lose by three. MIT has a lot of what makes York dangerous and hearkens back to the couple-year run MIT had that saw them get to Salem. That makes them dangerous, but they also prove that anyone can beat anyone this year.

Emory & Henry is a squad that may be playing better than people realize. Picked to finish 4th in ODAC, they have a one-game currently. (Courtesy: Emory & Henry Athletics)

10 – Emory & Henry (Up 14)
Another big move up the poll for a team and one many probably aren’t talking about. However, this past week the Wasps took full control of the ODAC and I believe firmly entered the national conversation. Okay, maybe didn’t firmly take control of the ODAC, but certainly made the conference take notice. Wins over Lynchburg and Randolph-Macon have given E&H not only a one-game lead in the conference, but also a six game winning streak since their only loss of the season (Wooster). Also, wins over Maryville, Transylvania, and others are starting to look better and better as those teams continue to do well.

11 – Hamilton (Unchanged)
I hinted at it earlier. The national strength of the NESCAC might be overrated and the Continentals may have given everyone a sneak peak at that this week. No, they didn’t change spots, but I had intended to move them down (technically, they slipped five spots on my ballot originally). Hamilton was handed their first loss of the season by Amherst and it wasn’t close. Coach Adam Stockwell, though, made an interesting point on Hoopsville Sunday night, and I am paraphrasing: our team can beat anyone in the Top 100 on any given night. Now, don’t focus on “Top 100” and think of the bottom. Think of the top. This year especially, they very well could have a team that could beat Whitman – they also have a team that Amherst is able to beat. There are a lot of teams who could beat anyone in the Top 100. I’d argue anyone in the Top 100 could beat anyone (i.e. 100 could beat 1). So, Hamilton could be a damn good team, or more likely is just as good as everyone else, but not great. That leads to whether the NESCAC might be overrated… you have to wait for more on that.

12 – UW-Whitewater (Down 8)
Getting my first chance to tackle the WIAC here. As with the NESCAC, I’ll break it down in several sections, but with none of my Top 25 candidates even leading the conference, I had to change my evaluation of the conference. I have said many times I think the WIAC is the best race in the country and thus the best conference this year. Top to bottom it is insane. Anyone can apparently beat anyone on any given night. I thought UW-Stout was damn good when I saw them in Las Vegas, but I couldn’t come to terms with the idea they may not be in the top four. Whitewater and the rest have not had a great start to the conference schedule, but that might be because the conference is very, very good… but not great. Like the NESCAC. Maybe the top isn’t as great as I had considered previously, but have a ton of good teams and the result will just be the conference beating each other to a pulp. Despite not leading the conference, I think Whitewater is the best team in the WIAC and of those I’m voting for the better team.

13 – Wesleyan (Unchanged)
This coming out less than 24-hours after Wesleyan lost on a buzzer beater to SUNY Purchase is what is called horrible timing. I’m losing confidence in the Cardinals, as I have with the NESCAC. Honestly, Wesleyan should have rolled over Purchase if they truly are a Top 25 team. No, I am not trying to diminish Purchase who was 9-6 entering that game. I realize this may be further proof of just how deep the parity is in Division III this season. However, these are the games Wesleyan has to win if they are as good as others say. The problem is, Wesleyan has now lost four of their last eight with a crazy win over Middlebury being the lone highlight. I voted prior to the Purchase game which left Wesleyan on my ballot. Next week they most likely won’t be here.

Illinois Wesleyan has gone from unranked to well up Dave’s ballot in quick order, but not with plenty of pulled hair. (Courtesy: Dean Reid, D3photography.com)

14 – Illinois Wesleyan (Up 11)
Here I enter a hornet’s nest. I am not sure what to do with the Titans. In the last few weeks, I have torn my hair out. Part of me screams that IWU is damn good and going to be in play for the CCIW championship. The other part points to inconsistencies I’ve seen this season and reasons I’ve hesitated to vote for them in the past. Last week, I slotted them on my ballot 25th – their first appearance. I didn’t like, but I had so much trouble finding a spot I liked for them. I took the time to chat with some people who have seen then to try and get a better sense of what I was missing. I even read the CCIW-boards, not always helpful but usually decent insight. It honestly made me more confused. I like Illinois Wesleyan. I think they are a good team. 14th good? Eh. The difference for me right now is that their losses to WashU and Emory are becoming less damaging and their current run through the conference more impressive. That loss to Carthage, though… still tough to deal with… and I have to wait until February 17 to see the return match.

15 – Augustana (Down 5)
I had Augustana well ahead (in poll terms) than IWU last week. Those on the CCIW boards didn’t like that. So be it. No one saw the dozen or so versions prior to my last ballot that had these two teams swapping places multiple times. Hard to prove that kind of thing. I think Augustana is still the best team in the CCIW, but they probably aren’t showing that right now. That very well could be they haven’t found a solution for the loss of Wofford. I have spoken before about my concern on this. At first, I wasn’t concerned, then I remember that last year’s go-to guy after Wofford departed was Jacob Johnson and … he isn’t around any more. I finally decided to lean more on the loss to Wheaton (who has been sporadic this season) and the near loss to Carroll despite them being the previous week. Wheaton lays ahead and so does IWU before the end of the month. I will feel a little more confident in the CCIW race in about a week’s time.

16 – New Jersey City (Down 1)
Here I am blogging about a team that may not be on my ballot next week – thus the disadvantage of not getting these blogs done earlier (may need to find a way to change the timing). I’ve like the Gothic Knights and especial Sam Toney, but once again an NJAC team is showing inconsistencies. Most in the region will say the NJAC is a tough conference and they beat each other up. I get that. Not disagreeing, but if an NJAC team wants to prove they are one of the best in the country… they have to step above that fray and put conference opponents behind them. NJCU has now lost three of their last seven – all to conference opponents. They have lost control of the top of the conference and sit two games behind TCNJ and Ramapo – who they have split with so far. Prior to the Monday night loss to TCNJ, I would have said I liked NJCU, but they need to start controlling their destiny. Now, I will tell you they have to buckle down and prove they are as good as they claim to be. TCNJ, Montclair, and Ramapo all still to play.

Dave is buying in that UW-Platteville is a Top 25 team, but there are seven squads in the WIAC who could probably make at least a claim to the idea. (Courtesy: UW-Platteville Athletics)

17 – UW-Platteville (Up 1)
I like what the Pioneers are doing more than others in the WIAC. Of course, they have been a victim of Stevens Point just like nearly all the rest. THey have beaten Oshksoh along with Stout, Eau Claire, and La Crosse (not something everyone can say they have done). I find themselves tied for second with Whitewater in the WIAC race … for now. They still have two with Whitewater to play and maybe there is more to prove, but for not I like how the Pioneers are playing more than others. Maybe it is just the timing of the conference schedule more than anything.

18 – Swarthmore (Up 2)
I am confused by the Garnet. I saw them in person, granted against struggling McDaniel, and really liked what I saw. Deep team, plenty of talent. Good inside-outside capabilities. Too many threats to be able to stop all of them, no matter how much McDaniel tried to shut down Wiley. However, their loss to F&M still bugs me (considering the Diplomats had a loss to Muhlenberg prior and followed the Swat win with a loss to Dickinson). Swarthmore followed the loss to F&M with an OT battle with Haverford (6-11) and a tight game with Dickinson (908 including a loss to resurgent Washington). With nearly the entire second half of the conference slate ahead… the Garnet aren’t showing me they are that strong. Thus why I originally had them 23rd.

19 – Whitworth (Up 2)
I am not going to take anything way from the Pirates and what they have for talent. They are young and the Northwest race for the next few years is going to be on another level, but I don’t think they are outstandingly good this year. The Whitman game was … okay. And they struggled this past weekend with Linfield and Willamette. I figured Linfield would give them a game (they did the same to Whitman), but to only beat Willamette by two and turn around and not put away Linfield only made me feel more confident Whitworth is a 20-25 team this season. Granted, they are the team I have picked to beat Whitman when they face the Blues in Spokane, but that doesn’t make them a Top 10 team this year. Doesn’t mean I’m right… just may take on it at this point.

Maryville’s Colt Nokes is one of four players (nearly five) in double-figures for the Scots who have been playing very well in the USA South.

20 – Maryville (Tenn.) (Unranked)
Here we get to teams I did a deep dive on and … feel like I was missing something prior. The Scots may seem like a surprise pick, but when I realized how they’ve been playing of late, I kind of liked them here. They shutdown the once-DII Pfeiffer squad that has been blitzing through the schedule so far (though, waiting to hear something major for Pfeiffer that would change my mind about this game). Their only other loss in 2018 was to Brevard – who like Pfeiffer still has some DII in them. Maryville also has losses to Emory and Emory and Henry (psst, stay away from “Emory” teams!) which on my ballot looks okay. Yes, the loss to Centre (10-7) to start isn’t pretty, but that is becoming less of a factor for me. They are in control of their side of the USA South – and probably the entire conference thanks to their win over Methodist as well. By the way, Maryville’s DIII opponents’ winning percentage: 148-117 (.559). Pretty good. The Scots may be better than people are giving them credit.

21 – Gwynedd Mercy (Unranked)
I’ve had my eye on the Griffins for a large part of the season. They are playing better than I expected and when I saw them in person realized they have a multi-faceted offense. I didn’t jump too soon. I wasn’t going to be able extrapalate much with their game against Goucher, but then they up-ended Cabrini and I put them on my list for consideration. They have made up for their one-point loss to Immactulata (8-8) and have a strong win over Neumann. They force bad match-ups and go up-tempo or slow down. They can go big or small on the court. Just seems John Baron has a squad that is only getting stronger.

22 – Cabrini (Unranked)
Yeah, I decided to double-dip in the CSAC. Cabrini has been playing weel for some time, though their loss to Neumann the night the poll is released is going to make this pick look … strange. It very well could be another team I remove from my ballot next week thanks to a Monday night loss (hey, teams… stop playing games on Monday nights when the poll is released! Thanks! LOL). Prior to the Neumann result, I liked how Cabirni was playing. The win over Eastern Connecticut (see below) was noteworthy and I wasn’t getting the Cavs in if I didn’t like Gwynedd Mercy as well (Cavs lost in OT to the Griffins). I am not reevaluating this one.

23 – Williams (Down 11)
This is part of the “NESCAC may be overrated” part. I want to repeat, I think the NESCAC is a very tough conference from top to bottom, I am just starting to think maybe the top isn’t as good as I thought it was. Doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best conferences in the country, but Williams is the barometer for me. They still seem to now know how to replace Scadlock who they lost weeks ago to a season-ending injury. They played Middlebury tough and that’s why they are still on my ballot, but they have lost two of their last five including to Tufts (13-5) who hasn’t seemed like the Tufts of old this season. Easier opponents like Mass College, Yeshiva, Vassar, Westfield St, Fitchburg St., etc. can sometimes make things confusing. Gaudy record, but against who? The loss to Hamline (9-8) still bugs me. Time will tell if my thinking on the Ephs and the NESCAC bears out… or I am on a island on my own.

24 – Eastern Connecticut (Unranked)
I have voted for the Warriors off and on this season. Something about what they are putting together has caught my eye. Their losses are to WPI (10-7) and Cabrini. I felt I had to put the Cavs on my ballot to return EConn as well. Not sure how Cabrini’s loss this week will affect my thinking here. However, the Warriors also have wins over WPI (yeah, played twice; lost the second game), Montclair State, Amherst, and Keene State. Those are note-worthy in my book. At least I am not the only one.

Lycoming makes their first appearance on Dave’s ballot… maybe by mistake? Dave is still nervous, but the Warriors also keep winning no matter what. (Courtesy: Lycoming Athletics)

25 – Lycoming (Unranked)
Hello Warriors. I am finally voting for you, but in a moment you readers are going to realize it might be by mistake. I have not been high on Lyco. Their opponents’ winning percentage continues to be pretty low (132-156 .458) and I peaked at Matt Snyder’s (@FFTMAG/KnightSlappy) NCAA SOS numbers out of curiousity and saw it was .506. That’s okay, but their non-conference SOS is .422. Not great. However, it came down to an adage many a coach has said to me on many an occasion: no matter the schedule, if a team keeps winning you should take note. Lycoming continues to win. They are now 6-1 versus teams with above .500 records – a significant change in a few weeks – and despite a loss to a pretty good Lebanon Valley team have at least won the games they should. Who else can you say that about? Not many.

Dropped Out:

UW-Oshkosh (Previously 5)
This was part of my effort to recalibrate the WIAC in my head. Yes, I understand UW-Stevens Point leads the conference by two (though, will play Oshkosh for the first time this week). However, I am not prepared to vote for UWSP as of yet on my ballot (I’ve talked about it on Hoopsville of late). As a result, maybe my thinking on the WIAC is … out of wack. Maybe it is a darn competitive and good conference, but the teams aren’t as good as I had been giving them credit. I readjusted this week and after going 0-2 with losses to Platteville and Eau Claire to go along with four losses in their last seven, I decided to drop Oshkosh from my ballot. Time will tell if I am overreacting or not.

UW-River Falls (Previously 8)
Another WIAC team I felt I needed to aggressively adjust. They, too, have lost to Stevens Point (just this past week) and now have lost three of six including to the previously named Oshkosh. If I was going to drop UWO, I had to drop UWRF. Not sure either team is playing their best right now, anyway.

Oops. Dave didn’t intend not to vote for John Carroll. Maybe something subconscious? (Courtesy: John Carroll Athletics)

John Carroll (Previously 14)
I am going to admit something maybe I shouldn’t: I screwed up. I had intended to leave John Carroll on my ballot, but they got lost in my efforts to look outside my radar for teams I may have been missing. I actually check-mark teams from my old ballot and on my info-sheet when I have slotted them on my ballot. Even taking the steps to go back and erase check-marks when I start to make changes. JCU’s initial check-mark was erased. Then as I got caught up in my research and efforts to fill slots, I never confirmed what I had done with the Blue Streaks. That all said, they were in this position on my ballot of being left off because I am not as confident as others with JCU. They can score, seemingly, at will and I have had several coaches tell me why they like them – especially their former DII point guard. However, I have stated (as you saw in the Top 25 Double-take) that their defense concerns me. I know they play 94-feet and in a team’s face, but they also still give up points when they need to get stops. The loss to Baldwin Wallace honestly told me more about BWU than it did about JCU, but it didn’t help JCU’s cause – who have they really beaten? Marietta? Ohio Northern? Their resume is harder to defend.

It appears Ohio Wesleyan’s hot shooting and playing has cooled off significantly since the D3hoops.com Classic. Maybe it stayed in Vegas? (Courtesy: Larry Radloff, D3photography.com)

Ohio Wesleyan (Previously 19)
I can’t believe that just a few weeks after seeing the Battling Bishops in Las Vegas, I would be removing them from my Top 25 ballot. However, OWU has not been playing at the same caliber I saw at the D3hoops.com Classic. Not sure if the “fame” of dismantling Ramapo and nearly knocking of No. 1 Whitman got to their heads or not, but they seemed to have gotten stuck in gear. Three losses in four game and four in six (before beating DePauw) are eye-opening. Yes, One of those four-out-of-six losses is to Whitman, but of the three out of four, one is to Hiram and another to Wooster. I can forgive the Wittenberg loss, except it was by 21! If OWU was as good as I saw in Vegas, they maybe only loss to Wittenberg since I saw them. The Bishops are simply not playing well together and are in jeopardy of quickly realizing they have to win the conference AQ or they won’t even see the NCAA tournament. Say what?!

Nichols (Previously 23)
No. The Bison did not lose this past week. They have not lost since Jan. 6 to Western New England in overtime. However, they too are not playing the same they were earlier in the season. What once was a dominating squad (including a 19 point win over Wesleyan) has turned into a squad who is barely getting past Eastern Nazarene and Roger Williams. If Nichols is as good as I thought, those games aren’t close. They got their point guard, DeAnte Burton, back from injury, but that hasn’t seemed to make them better. They have now, since I voted, lost to Univ. of New England making my decision better understood.

Previous Ballots:
Week 7 – No blog; see ballot above
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3 – No blog; Stagg Bowl Week
Week 2
Week 1

In the future, I do hope to talk to more coaches I know have a good sense of what they are seeing not only on the court in front of them, but even on web streams around the country. I realize I shook up my ballot quite a bit this week and even took some turns not many others are taking. Maybe it will open eyes to other great pretty good teams in the country or maybe I will be proven to have lost my mind this week. However, just realize that these decisions aren’t made on a whim. I make them after following what my research says and what those I trust say. I may like a team and want to vote for them, even after seeing them in person or having them on Hoopsville, but that doesn’t always mean when I do my research it adds up.

Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’17-’18): Week 6

Interesting note: Discovered that four years ago today (Jan. 9) I released my first Top 25 ballot as an experiment. Here we are today blogging nearly every ballot. Still enjoying it? 🙂


That noise you heard was my, and I suspect a number of other, Top 25 ballots being blown up. It was inevitable. Most of you who read my blog even occasionally know I do it at least once a year. I just think all of us voters were heading to this day thanks to more and more losses happening around the country. However, the tipping point was probably Wednesday, January 3 when nearly the entire Top 10 of the D3hoops.com Top 25 lost not to mention the losses in the rest of the poll and those receiving votes.

Personally,  I had 14 losses amongst 13 teams on my ballot from last week. Ten of those losses came from ten teams in my previous Top 15!

Looking at this week’s poll it is clear that the voters decided to make some drastic changes. It is just so hard to truly get a sense of what teams should be ranked where. There are a lot of good teams in Division III basketball. Not a lot of great ones. It is hard to grasp who stands out when there are losses in games that seem like givens. Further complicating things are the teams one thinks are going to be special getting tripped up. That just makes one scratch their head. Here is the thing: those teams may still be special, but by a completely different standard.

I would be repetitive if I started talking about parity in recent years and this year in particular. However, one thing I have noticed is more and more signs of it being recognized by others.

One of the privileges that comes with this “job” covering Division III basketball is that there are many people around the country who are willing to reach out and chat about what they are seeing, what teams they like (or don’t like), or questions they have for me about what is going on. I value these conversations from coaches, assistant coaches, administrators, media members, and fans. It helps me get a sense of what I can’t see or grasp. In most years, many of those conversations are similar in nature. Same teams, same thoughts, same reasoning. Not now-a-days. Each conversation has different teams and conferences discussed and not because of where those individuals are from.

It was fun to be in Las Vegas this past December and talking to Eric Bridgeland, Mike DeWitt, and others and hear their thoughts on who is good, who is flying under the radar, etc. Our conversations would just go on and on, eventually having to be stopped due to time and usually in mid-conversation with plenty more to talk about.

This is fun! There is so much to talk about and that translates into chaotic Top 25s. That really isn’t something to complain about.

I did blow up my ballot this week. I just couldn’t keep any sense of order and thought to where I was on my ballot. I had teams that I felt was not buying enough into while I was also holding onto teams that just didn’t seem to be living up to any expectations. I could argue parity until the cows come home (and in some, I probably am), but at some point others, many unexpected, where the ones living up to the expectations and not the others.

I ended up diving in to just about every team as far as I could get in a reasonable amount of time. I went through each and every game and gave it a simple grade (see side panel). I then determined each team’s overall opponent win-loss percentage (for Division III opponents only) and a team’s record against better than .500 opponents (also noting where the game was played). I also took my first serious look at the Massey and Bennett Rankings. I don’t put much stock in those ranking systems until a little later in a season, but this is usually the time when I glance at Massey and Bennet to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

In total, I had 47 teams on my “radar” and researched 46. Only one team being considered for my ballot didn’t get that scrutiny. My top team: Whitman.

I won’t go into my thoughts on everything since I hope to supply ideas for each team below (sheesh, that’s a lot of typing). However, I can say that that while I dove pretty deep into each team, I didn’t necessarily find the answers I was looking for with teams. It kind of helped. It also kind of made things more confusing. I ended up just going with my gut, using a lot of eraser (I still use pencil and paper when working on my ballot), and knowingly left some teams off that had just as strong, or flawed, an argument as those I included.

I also did NOT include some teams that continue to get a lot of love from other voters. I mentioned in last week’s blog some of those and why I wasn’t voting for them. For at least one of those teams I didn’t include, I knew there was a BIG game coming up this week (tonight, actually) that would allow me to make a better judgement next week – win or lose.

Okay… enough… let’s get to the ballot. If you missed last week’s, you can find it here. Now time for those who survived the explosion.

1 – Whitman (Unchanged)
I have said on air on Hoopsville or during the D3hoops.com Classic that I do not expect the Blues to go undefeated through the regular season this year. However, they are the best equipped to face all challenges. Despite missing two starters from last season (and not expected to return this year), they are a dangerous team. While we all know about Howell and his abilities (and faults), it is players like Butler, Hewitt, Stewart, Beattie, and Jacobs-Jones that make this team click. Whitman is by top team not until they lose, but until they prove they have lost something or have been exposed. Another big test comes Tuesday night against No. 3 Whitworth … in Walla Walla (yes, I will be watching on the big screen!).

2 – Augustana (Unchanged)
I wanted to move the Vikings. I really, really wanted to. Their loss to Illinois Wesleyan made me feel they should come down a bit, but to where? I still think they they are better than a vast majority of teams in Division III even if they are still trying to figure out how to play without Pierson Wofford, but there are still guys like Christian Orange, Nolan Ebell, and others who have helped Augsburg Augustana excel. What I am watching for next is if IWU exposed some stuff that other CCIW teams may try to exploit. If that is the case, Augustana will fall. If not, I don’t have any reason to drop the stalwarts from Rock Island.

3 – WashU (Up 2)
I actually thought about putting the Bears second, but then remember they had lost to Augustana. Yep, the same team that lost to Illinois Wesleyan. To add to the confusion, WashU had beaten IWU. Yes. With that circular result, I could have gotten away with putting the Bears second, but in reality I decided to respect at least the head-to-head result especially since the Vikings had beaten WashU in St. Louis. WashU is good, but they are as susceptible as any other team in the country. This isn’t the same type of team that dominated to back-to-back championships, but they are also better than the WashU teams of the last few years.

4 – Williams (Up 5)
No, I am not confident with this, but this is where the first gap exists in my ballot. Williams was ninth in my last ballot and the win over Wesleyan at least made me take note. Does that mean they are good enough to be the fourth-best team in the country? Not sure. They are still looking to replace the output and intangibles that Scadlock brought to the table. They won’t survive NESCAC (and Little Three) play without taking a couple of hits I am sure. So, they are fourth on my ballot, but I would feel better if they were somewhere between 7 and 10… there just isn’t any teams behind them I think absolutely deserve to be above them.

5 – UW-River Falls (Up 2)
Yes. I moved the Falcons up two spots despite going 1-and-1 for the week. Their win over Whitewater was note-worthy considering what UWW did later in the week. Yes, UWRF lost to Stevens Point, but let’s not pretend the Pointers aren’t good especially defensively. They are going to get some top-notch victories this season, so it didn’t surprise me to see UWRF lose to UWSP. The WIAC race is going to be one of the best in the country this year and right now I think UWRF is the class of the group.

6 – York (Pa.) (Up 10)
Big … BIG jump for the Spartans. I wasn’t sure I was ready to buy in this much, but I know that York is higher on some ballots (and lower on others). What I finally allowed myself to lean on was that I love that York has two big-men they can play off and who can step out and extend defenses. Their win over Salisbury impressed me. The Sea Gulls are a tough squad and for York to get past them after one of their more memorable stretches in program history told me they are a focused group. Yes, wins over Swarthmore, Dickinson, and then Middlebury (in overtime) had me buying in, but getting past Salisbury without getting “trapped” told me enough to make a leap. Plus, no one else is winning games they should. York appears to be. Now, this Saturday they have Christopher Newport coming to Grumbacher Center. That game will tell us a lot of how the CAC, Mid-Atlantic, and York’s seasons will be shaped the rest of the way.

7 – Wittenberg (Up 12)
Another big jump for a team, but like York the Tigers are undefeated and winning games others are losing. I didn’t expect much out of Coach Croci’s team this season. Boy was I wrong. Maybe everyone was wrong. Wittenberg appears to be a beast. I honestly didn’t want to move them too far up because they haven’t played Ohio Wesleyan or Wooster as of yet. Those games are coming up starting this weekend. They will tell me if Witt is for real or a pretender.

8 – St. John’s (Unchanged)
I might be the only one one who thinks this highly of the Johnnies. They are slowly working their way up the poll probably because of their loss to UW-Lacrosse and close wins like Hamline. However, I feel St. John’s is the class of the MIAC this year and their results against most of the conference so far are rather telling. As with a lot of teams at this point in the season, two of the Johnnies’ big tests are upcoming in the next week. Augsburg and St. Thomas in the next three games. As with Wittenberg, this is going to end up being the litmus test.

9 – UW-Whitewater (Up 6)
The Warhawks are Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde on my ballot. I have lower and dropped UWW a lot so far. I just struggle to get a read on them. I bought in early maybe on a false reading (forgetting for some reason how much they lost; trusting their transfers too much early on) and then dropped them significantly when I decided to walk away from those readings. This week they added to the chaotic race in the WIAC by beating Oshkosh and losing to River Falls. It was the fact they beat Oshkosh after losing to River Falls that made me take note. To bounce back and take out the early-season conference favorite told me more than their loss to UWRF (their first to a +.500 team this season).

10 – UW-Oshkosh (Down 6)
Yep. Three WIAC teams in my Top 10. For as much parity as there is in Division III and for as much chaos in the WIAC this surprised me as well. However, I’ve said I like the race in the WIAC and I think we have not seen this strength at the top of the conference in a few years and I don’t know when we have seen that coupled by incredible depth (the conference is always deep, but not with this much strength in my opinion). Oshkosh is still a dangerous team. The biggest challenge is going to probably come for the NCAA men’s committee to separate all these top-squads as much as possible to balance the NCAA bracket to the best of their abilities. Read this now, remember it later: One or two WIAC teams are going to have to hit the road early in the NCAA tournament if anyone wants to see this conference and region get any balance and “respect.”

11 – Wesleyan (Unchanged)
I might be buying too much into the Cardinals. They numbers won’t blow anyone away, but they have stayed relatively unblemished and their win over Middlebury, granted at home, gave voters a lot of insight. (More on why it could be a false-positive later in the blog.) The NESCAC race is also wide-open this season and Wesleyan has at least proven that they will be a factor. Like a lot of teams, I don’t think they are as good as where I have them ranked, but if you take into account for the “gap” I have in my head and Wesleyan is really more like a 15 or so ranked squad.

12 – MIT (Unchanged)
The Engineers may not have had any terrific results this week, but their win over Coast Guard showed they aren’t going to just roll over when challenged. The NEWMAC race is also wide-open, but I think it goes through Cambridge, not Babson Park this season.

13 – Ohio Wesleyan (Down 7)
This is a big drop for the Battling Bishops who I have a ton of confidence in. However, a couple of things were factors in this decision. The first was when deep-diving into all teams on my ballot I found teams I felt needed to be higher. They moved up (as you have seen) and space needed to be made. OWU allowed for some of that space to be created thanks to a loss to Wooster. While the Scots are playing far better than I expected, if OWU was a Top 10 team they should have won that game (and maybe would have despite a possible missed call at the end on Wooster; however OWU shouldn’t have been in that situation). The one thing that makes me nervous about the Bishops is their reliance on the three-point shot. That is who they are and that is how they will succeed or fail. I really like what OWU has for a team and when they are on, they are one of the toughest to stop. It is when they are off is when I get nervous.

14 – New Jersey City (Down 4)
I considered dropping the Gothic Knights even further because if they are as good as they say they are… they can’t let a team like Montclair State beat them. Yes, MSU is good. I am not taking anything away from Montclair, but NJCU supposedly has the best played in the NJAC and more talent possibly being added and thus they have to dominate all opponents. If they do not, they aren’t a Top 25 team and they are in risk of not playing in March.

15 – Wartburg (Down 2)
I like the Knights (huh, back-to-back Knights teams!), but they have now lost two games in three including a loss to Coe after a 15-point win over Central. If Wartburg wants to control what could be a controllable IIAC, they can’t let teams like Coe upend them. The difference between the IIAC being a conference that is wide-open or not will be if Wartburg can wrangle back control of the conference. BTW, there is still Buena Vista, Nebraska Wesleyan, Loras (a second time) to play… starting next week.

16 – Baldwin Wallace (Up 4)
The Yellow Jackets are are popular team for people to bring up in conversation that no one seems to be talking about publicly. Yes, losses to Wheaton (Ill.) and Muskingum will give voters pause. They have for me until this week. Wins over Hope and Mount Union gave me confidence the once-hyphenated program is for real – along with those individuals who keep mentioning them to me. However, Ohio Northern and John Carroll are coming up in the next three games … hold your breathe in the OAC because it could be a free-for-all if it isn’t already.

17 – John Carroll (Up 6)
Did I mention John Carroll? The Blue Streaks are certainly good. They have proven that under first-year coach, but long-time coaching pupil, Pete Moran. However, I think they need to tighten up the defense a bit to be a serious threat. Allowing 100+ points to Hope in a loss, which I think I have mentioned before, is not good enough. I get that JCU can put up points with their offense. Good. That’s fine. But if they can’t shut down teams even slightly, they are going to get bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament … if not the first round of the OAC tournament.

18 – St. Norbert (Up 3)
The Green Knights (what is up with the Knights?!) are done with any games that can actually answer questions for voters. The rest of the way is MWC games and we already know that leaves more questions than anything. A win in a relatively low-scoring game against Grinnell was a decent sign. However, I am nervous SNC is going to leave us wanting more, like most seasons, because they didn’t accomplish enough in their out-of-conference schedule to better position themselves for March – as long as they win the MWC bid. By the way, St. Nobert moved up three spots strictly because there was room and I needed to slot teams in. This are of the ballot is the second “gap” that exists.

19 – Skidmore (Up 4)
I am a fan of the Thoroughbreds. I have stated that several times. However, their losses that bookended the holidays still make me concerned. They have to stay focused on Liberty League games and not let their resume take any unneeded hits if they want to control things in March.

20 – Hamilton (Up 5)
I am starting to buy into the Continentals, but I am not completely sold. Massey and Bennett loves them, but in my opinion they don’t have any significant wins, only one I marked with a ‘+’ (Trinity). They are still undefeated and especially in a season like this that isn’t something to be discounted. Their win over Lebanon Valley was probably better than I have given them credit, but the questions I am looking to be answered will come slowly over time. Next up is Wesleyan, but Amherst isn’t until Jan. 20 and Middlebury and Williams aren’t for another month. The trick will be if Hamilton can avoid unnecessary losses between now and early February.

21 – Whitworth (Unranked)
Ok. I’m voting for the Pirates, now. I still don’t see a lot that makes me feel comfortable. Their opponents’ combined record is 77-87, they are 4-1 against teams above .500 – though no one of significance other than Wheaton (Ill.) for now – and even Bennett and Massey are mixed. However, I felt I needed to put Whitworth on my ballot before their game against Whitman. The reason: If I was impressed with Whitworth, but they lost (as I predict with my ballot), it might be an odd argument to suddenly put them on my ballot. Yes, I could easily make the argument (like I did in bringing Ohio Wesleyan up my ballot last week). I just feel more comfortable if they are already on my ballot.

22 – Swarthmore (Unranked)
I realize the Garnet may be better than I think they are. This is one of a handful of teams (along with Whitworth) that other voters have put them high in the poll which I have not voted for or just started voting. I know Swat has some good talent, but results have caused me to be cautious. I’m buying in right now because their loss to York continues to look better and better (especially in overtime) and their win over Middlebury looks pretty solid (though, could lose traction). The Mid-Atlantic Region is going to be fascinating to watch especially when it comes to Regional Rankings and Swat is certainly going to be part of that conversation.

23 – UW-Platteville (Unranked)
Ha. A fourth team from the WIAC in my Top 25. It isn’t rare, but it feels strange. Ryan Scott was the first to get me to focus on the Pioneers. Their loss earlier in the season to Carleton makes one scratch their head, but their control of Hope and strong start to conference play had me buy in … a little. Like the undefeated teams, having just one loss at this point in the season isn’t something to be ignored. Massey and Bennett love UWP, though that could be because of two games out of Division III. Their DIIIs opponents are 71-67, which gives me some confidence Platteville may be a sleeper in what is already a crazy WIAC race. Oshkosh, Lacrosse, Stevens Point, River Falls, and Whitewater are coming up in the next five games. Buckle up, Pioneer fans!

24 – Nichols (Down 7)
I am holding on to the Bison after their loss to Western New England. They have some of the best talent in New England, but if they truly are a Top 25 team they have to dominate the CCC. I remain confident, but nearly dropped them all together for a host of other teams (more complicated than it sounds).

25 – Middlebury (Down 22)
Significant drop of the Panthers for good reason. I was nervous about their long layoff over the holidays and it might be the reason for their recent slide. Whether it is because Middlebury is struggling to get back in sync or it gave teams plenty of time to figure them out is debatable. What isn’t debatable is that Midd has lost two of three and three of five all since they returned to action from the holidays. All three of those losses were to teams I now have on my Top 25 ballot. That is the reason Middlebury is still on my ballot, but they are also behind all three of those teams. My thinking is simple: if a team is a Top 25 squad, they win at least one of those three games showing it. I am riding Middlebury … for now.

Dropped Out:

Ramapo (Previously 14)
The Roadrunners have lost three of their last four and have me nervous. I think they have tremendous talent, but as I said on Sunday’s Hoopsville I am not sure they know how to utilize it. There are times they go several possessions without getting Bonacum involved. Then they do and he isn’t in sync or they risk getting some one like Moseley out of sync. If they can get all the talent to come together, they are a very dangerous team. If there is a “good” time for a lull in a season, it is right now. They only have lost one conference game and can remain in control of the conference with a win against NJCU coming up. However, things could also unravel just as quickly if the current trend continues – just ask Virginia Wesleyan a few years ago.

Rochester (Previously 18)
I like the Yellow Jackets. I am one who has been touting them this season. Despite what they lost from last year’s squad, I felt they were the class of the East Region and be in the battle for the UAA. While I am still a fan, Rochester has lost two of their last three including at Emory by 18. On top of that, Rochester is only 3-3 against opponents with better than .500 records; all three to 8-3 or better squads. Not sure they are playing Top 25 basketball right now.

Albright (Previously 24)
I might have bought in too soon with the Lions. They had been a group similar to the one I mentioned last week that included Lycoming, Juniata, etc. Albright, like the other two and others, took a loss this past week that didn’t look good. Lebanon Valley (who also beat Lycoming) got the win at Albright. That coupled with confusing overall metrics and I decided I couldn’t keep Albright on my ballot especially over teams who seemed to have a better resume.

Previous Ballots:
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3 (not blogged this week; Stagg Bowl Week)
Week 2
Week 1

Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’17-’18): Week 5

A reminder that this blog was written based on games played through January 1, 2018 and thoughts on teams through that point in the schedule. For the sake of saving time, there are no comments this week about individual teams in the ballot part of the blog.

If you thought Santa wouldn’t deliver in the past few weeks to the D3hoops.com Top 25, you and I have a different image of Santa. You can look at it several ways, but I prefer to think Santa wanted to give all Division III fans, especially of men’s basketball, the gift that any team has a chance this season. Thus, he seemed to hand out losses to lots of teams during the holidays. Yes, it could be construed by the other voice in my head (and maybe your’s) that Santa just wanted to give us chaos. However, to try and keep myself sane… I’m going with the first option.

In the span of 24 or 48 hours, while I lived in the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Top 25 teams fell left and right – even in front of us at the 8th Annual D3hoops.com Classic. It was almost as comical as Ohio Wesleyan’s three-point shooting for three-quarters of two games (or Nate Axelrod’s and Tim Howell’s individual efforts). It even bled over to the women’s side of things where the number one team in the country, Tufts, was defeated by an unranked opponent.

Happy Holidays to all!

Here’s a loss, there’s a loss, and another loss.

Or maybe it was: you get a big win, you get a big win, you get a big win.

Of course, the other thought on my mind: what kind of ballot am I going to come home to on January 1? I thought about looking at things on the cross-country flight home Sunday, but decided I wanted to relax and enjoy the flight … not continually order drinks to try and subdue the carnage I was wading through.

The craziest thing of all… I decided on some teams on my ballot wouldn’t move despite outcomes, other teams would make significant moves up or down no matter their outcomes, and I would continue to leave teams which at quick-glance had impressive resumes off my ballot … for now.

An example of the first part would be much of my ballot this week. A number of teams especially in the top five didn’t move even though they lost a game. Middlebury lost to York (Pa.), UW-Oshkosh lost, Wash U lost to Augustana, etc. I considered moving them. But where to? Who deserved to move ahead of those teams or others? If I move a team down, I have to replace them. I cannot leave the spot blank (despite repeated requests to be allowed to do so that continually denied).

I also moved teams up and down even though their results were the opposite. I leap-frogged Ohio Wesleyan up four spots despite losing to Whitman. Had they one, I would have considered moving them to two or three – I would have had a reason to drop Middlebury and others for losing. However, they didn’t shoot as well in the second half against Whitman, but that also didn’t make me think they deserved to move down. I have stated repeatedly that if a team ranked below another team on my ballot losses to that higher-ranked team, why would I move them down?  I moved New Jersey City up despite a loss not necessarily because they proved to be better, but because other teams proved to not be as good.

That gets me to teams I moved down. I was asked during the broadcast of Ramapo’s loss to Augsburg if I felt the Roadrunners would drop out of the Top 25 with two losses in Vegas. I didn’t see the question at the time, but made a comment later along the lines that I didn’t think so based simply on the fact that there were already a number of losses in the Top 25. Ramapo’s losses against an all-winning Top 25 might look harsher than one where nearly everyone lost. I did drop Ramapo eight spots because I wasn’t as impressed with Ramapo as I was last season when I was blown away by them in Vegas. The Roadrunners blew a nearly 20-point lead against Central in a game that I pretty much predicted they were about to be in real trouble (when leading by 18 and starting to look too relaxed). They don’t seem to play a full 40-minutes especially against teams that are not as good. They get too distracted and suddenly their lead is gone and they are fighting to get back in the game. Maybe that is why they have struggled to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for … ever. They are very talented. They are very dangerous. But they are their own worst enemy. That all said, I still think they are a Top 25 team and there was plenty of other results to keep them from plummeting too far.

Same goes with other squads. St. Norbert, John Carroll, Skidmore. All with resumes over the holidays that concerned me. St. Norbert once again not taking advantage of a non-conference opportunity to prove they are more than just a MWC dominating program. John Carroll likes to score a lot of points, but they are giving every one of their opponents a chance for the win by not tightening up the defense a bit… and losing to a sub-par Hope squad. And Skidmore that book-ended their holidays with losses to highly-ranked Middlebury and playing-below-expectations Guilford. All three might have dropped out of my poll if there hadn’t been a ton of losses to go with it.

There was also a number of teams I still am not voting for despite gaudy records at nearly the mid-point of the season. Lycoming (13-0) who is undefeated, but has an opponent win-loss percentage of .403, has only played three teams above .500, and played nine of their games at home. Franklin & Marshall (10-1) whose opponent’s mark is .454 (not too low), but also has only played three teams above .500 and lost one of them. Juniata (11-0) whose opponents combine to be 36-73 (.33) and have only played two teams above .500. Nebraska Wesleyan (11-0) who, like Juniata, has an opponent’s win-loss mark at .339 and has only played two teams above .500. Swarthmore (9-1) who at least has a .467 opponent win-loss percentage, but hasn’t really blown me away (Ryan Scott keeps telling me I am missing something; I very well may be and will watch them carefully in the next week or so). Whitworth (10-1) whose opponents win/loss mark is improved (.458), but also dropped a game to Wheaton during the break.

And there are certainly others.

With all of them I faced the very same challenge. Resumes that when you dove into them didn’t really look as good as their records made you think and no results that blew me away. I want to see more. I want to see what conference play brings us. There are plenty of chances in the next week or two to see results that can easily change my mind.

Those teams plus others were also part of a group that if included meant I needed to find room on my ballot. I dropped three teams this week for three new ones. There are six mentioned above. There are at least a handful more. I wasn’t confident in where I could find two more teams I was confident didn’t below on my Top 25 let alone six, eight or more.

There easily could be 40 or more teams that deserve to be in the Top 25. The voters clearly think so. Look at how many teams are being voted for and highly. Lycoming is sixth in the poll… and not getting a single point from me. I might also be looking the wrong way with some teams and will admit it when I become aware of it.

For now… the 25 teams I think are the best in the country don’t include a number of teams I mentioned and didn’t note.

Traditionally, I would now give you my Top 25 ballot for this week and leave a snipet per most teams. I am not going to do that this week because I need to post this and because I could argue myself for and against every team I list and their position. It would get too long. Instead, I am going to give you the Top 25 ballot and leave it at that. Not sure this will be the new norm for this blog (as many have said they like the thoughts on each team), however I think it is best for this week’s.

Here is my ballot for the D3hoops.com Top 25 for Week 5:

1 – Whitman (Unchanged)
2 – Augustana (Unchanged)
3 – Middlebury (Unchanged)
4 – UW-Oshkosh (Unchanged)
5 – Wash U (Unchanged)
6 – Ohio Wesleyan (Up 4)
7 – UW-River Falls (Up 1)
8 – St. John’s (Up 1)
9 – Williams (Down 2)
10 – New Jersey City (Up 1)
11 – Wesleyan (Up 1)
12 – MIT (Up 1)
13 – Wartburg (Up 2)
14 – Ramapo (Down 8)
15 – UW-Whitewater (Up 6)
16 – Nichols (Down 1)
17 – York (Pa.) (Up 6)
18 – Rochester (Down 1)
19 – Wittenberg (Unranked)
20 – Baldwin Wallace (Up 5)
21 – St. Norbert (Down 4)
22 – John Carroll (Down 4)
23 – Skidmore (Down 7)
24 – Albright (Unranked)
25 – Hamilton (Unranked)

Dropped Out:

Marietta (Previously 20)
Hanover (Previously 22)
Eastern Connecticut (Previously 24)

Previous Ballots:
Week 4
Week 3 (Not posted due to a busy Stagg Bowl Week)
Week 2
Week 1