The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: WashU shocks Chicago, Whitewater wins big, in fast-paced day of action

January 8, 2023

By Riley Zayas

Wow. What a day it was in the world of D-III women’s hoops yesterday. It was incredible to see so much of so many different things in these games, down to the upsets, the comebacks, the Top 25 duels in Connecticut and Wisconsin. It all formed a great slate of games that truly displayed just how deep D-III women’s basketball is right now, with so many competitive programs. I’ve broken this down into a few categories as I put down my thoughts on the way these played out…

  • The Upsets
    If you’re looking for a result that rocked the D-III WBB world on Saturday, you’d best look towards St. Louis. That’s where WashU, a team that was destroyed by UW-Oshkosh, 78-42, four days after Christmas shocked #10 Chicago. And it wasn’t by some narrow margin either. The Bears were hands down the best team on the floor, winning 68-49 as four starters scored in double figures. It was a three-point game at the end of the first quarter, but Chicago just could not find any sort of consistent rhythm in each of the next three, scoring just 11 points in each. I was impressed by how well WashU defended; the Bears did not force all that many turnovers (11), but played solid perimeter defense and forced the Maroons into a lot of midrange shots, rather than driving to the rim. Just five offensive rebounds for Chicago did not help much either. WashU has NYU coming up on Jan. 15 at home…the Violets better be careful.
  • Amherst has been struggling in a big way as of late, and on Saturday, Middlebury proved it had enough to take down the 15th-ranked Mammoths, handing them their third loss in five games. This isn’t what we’re used to seeing from Amherst, but perhaps the rest of the NESCAC is just getting better. And as far as the previous losses to Concordia-Moorhead and Chapman, blame it on the long travel, the holidays or something else, but the bottom line is that Amherst is not playing its best basketball right now. It happens. But you have to credit Middlebury at the same time for pulling off back-to-back wins that look really good on a tournament resume against Hamilton and now Amherst. The 47-45 win for Middlebury came down to the wire, with Gabby Stuart putting Middlebury in front on a jumper with 29 seconds left. Alexa Mustafaj came up with a game-sealing steal for the Panthers as they moved to 9-5, but more importantly, 2-0 in the NESCAC play. Amherst won’t be in my Top 20 come Monday.
  • The third big “upset” came in the far reaches of west Texas, where Sul Ross State took down an ETBU team that was on an upward trajectory. The Tigers of ETBU had wins over UMHB and UC Santa Cruz, and were receiving votes in last week’s Top 25. But SRSU, with its full-court press dominated in the second quarter, going on a 26-7 run. I don’t think I saw a shift in momentum quite as sudden as I saw it in Alpine, with ETBU leading 21-13 at the end of the first quarter, but trailing 39-28 at halftime. Marley Rokas is a name to remember as the 5’11 forward nearly had a double-double for SRSU with 20 points and nine rebounds. Having seen her play in person this year, I can tell you that she will be tough matchup for any opponent with her shooting ability and skill around the perimeter while still being one of the tallest players in the post.
  • The close calls
    A NESCAC-esque game unfolded in Dallas, where #24 UMHB was taken down to the wire against UT-Dallas. UTD first-year head coach Joe Shotland has done a great job working with what he has and creating a really solid defensive team. They challenged UMHB majorly, leading 49-46 with three minutes left. But you have to score down the stretch, and going the final 6:16 without a made field goal will certainly hurt you. UMHB put together a really solid effort defensively down the stretch, and pulled out a 53-49 win. It was the lowest-scoring day for UMHB this season.
  • #21 Puget Sound actually trailed 39-25 to Willamette at the half, but used a 25-12 run in the third-quarter to claim the lead and pull out an 81-75 win. But wow, did Willamette challenge the Loggers. They outrebounded PS 37-29, shot 51.9% and had 19 assists. That will win you the game in a lot of situations, but 26 turnovers really hurt Willamette, especially in the second half, when PS began its comeback.
  • Dickinson went down 19-3 against Washington College in Centennial Conference play, and after seeing Dickinson pull off a big win over Johns Hopkins earlier this week, I was surprised to see a start like that. Washington has been decent (8-4 overall, 4-3 in the CC), but not great, and Dickinson had looked pretty convincing in that previously-mentioned victory over JHU. Credit to Dickinson, they began a comeback, culminating in a 22-9 run to end the game in a 56-54 win. That was the comeback of the day, no doubt. Very impressive, but at the same time, talk about digging yourself into a hole early on the road…
  • The games that rose to the level of expectation
    I put a couple games in this category, and I understand this is completely subjective. But you could not watch the battle between #22 Trinity (CT) and #25 Bowdoin and not be on the edge of your seat. Especially because Trinity’s comeback in the fourth-quarter certainly rivals what Dickinson did further down the east coast. Because Bowdoin entered the fourth up 41-31, but Trinity outscored the Polar Bears 18-2, holding Bowdoin to yes, just two points, in the final 10 minutes. That is championship defense right there. Bowdoin did not score for the first four minutes of the quarter, and by the time we’d reached the 7:17 mark, Trinity had put together an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to just two points. From that point on, the defensive intensity continued picking up, resulting in very few made shots. With 3:31 left, Reilly Campbell’s layup fell through for Trinity, putting the Bantams in front, 45-43. They held on for a 49-43 win, and should break into the Top 20 on Monday. Looking at the box score, it’s interesting how even the two teams were. Nobody seemed to dominate in any particular category. But four three-pointers from Trinity, compared to just two for Bowdoin probably was a big difference in a game with such a small margin. Take away the threes and both teams made exactly 13 shots from the field.
  • The other HUGE game of the day was played in the WIAC (because…where else?) as #17 UW-Whitewater went to #9 UW-Eau Claire and took down the Blugolds on their home court, 79-69. I wouldn’t call this an upset, though. Whitewater has taken some losses, sure, but has nine wins over Massey Top 70 opponents. The second-most? Six. Whitewater is, if nothing else, battle-tested, and it showed at UWEC. A 22-11 third-quarter from the Warhawks put them in front, at one point by 15. Aleah Grundahl played all but one minute for Whitewater, putting 27 points on the board in an All-American-type performance. Kacie Carollo had 19 points, 10 boards for Whitewater as well, as the starting five accounted for all but two of its 79 points. If you remember, yesterday morning I said the matchup that would likely determine the outcome would be Whitewater’s defense against the potent offense of UWEC. The Warhawks rose to the test, despite having looked somewhat off against UWSP on Wednesday. They took away a lot of three-point looks for UWEC, which somewhat disrupted the Blugolds’ offense. They still shot 48.3%, but they were not scoring to the level they had been in previous wins over Trine and UW-Oshkosh. This is a key result for Whitewater. They really needed this win, especially on the road, and should see a significant bump in their national ranking come Monday.
  • Other notables…
  • #3 Transylvania won comfortably at Defiance, 70-40, moving to 14-0. It marked the 12th game of the year that the Pioneers’ defense has held its opponent below 50 points.
  • Wheaton had been off to a solid start, including a win at Puget Sound, but Millikin was the best team on the floor in a key CCIW battle yesterday, winning 74-55. I didn’t expect the margin to be that wide, but have certainly liked what I’ve seen from Millikin as of late. This is a team that is now 11-3, 3-0 in the CCIW. Bailey Coffman came off the bench for 15 points in 16 minutes. Imagine what she’ll be able to do when she’s back to playing 25 minutes a game?
  • UW-La Crosse continues to be a team that is going under the radar, but putting together a fairly strong resume. UWL is 13-2, and beat a good UW-Stevens Point that nearly won at Whitewater this past Wednesday, 47-45. It literally came down to the final shot, a missed three from UWSP, and was very close all the way through. Really solid effort from both teams on the defensive end, making the opponent work for every shot.
  • Concordia-Moorhead and Bethel both took losses in games I was expecting they would win, and while this highlights the fact that there is quite a bit of parity in the MIAC, it also probably means that this will be a one-bid league. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on performing well in the MIAC playoffs and staying healthy over the course of the next two months in order to be at full strength for post-conference play. Right now, this is a wide-open league.
  • Concordia (WI) handed Concordia-Chicago its first loss in NACC play, and I was pretty surprised it was not a closer result. 76-55 was the final, and despite Kate Benes’ 27 points for Chicago, Concordia (WI) was 11-of-19 from beyond the arc. When you shoot that well from three-point range, you’re likely going to win the ballgame.

Okay, I’m going to stop there, but this slate was so packed with key results and great games all the way around that this article went pretty long, even just touching on several of the most notable games. I have a feeling the Top 25 will look pretty different when it is released tomorrow evening. As for today, the game you’ll want to be watching tips off at 1 p.m. EST between #14 Babson and #23 Tufts. Quality non-conference action for you in January! A loss for Tufts probably drops them out of the Top 25. Have a great Sunday and be sure to come back tomorrow for my Top 25 ballot breakdown!


Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’22-’23) – Week 3

Trey Barber has missed a few games for CNU, but going into the Week 3 voting the Captains were still undefeated. Will they remain #1 on my ballot next week? (Courtesy: CNU Athletics)

I hope this finds everyone well. The Top 25 voting this past week ended up being less “fluid” than I expected, especially how the season started. I considered taking some extra time to dive into the details of every team, but figured this wasn’t exactly the time to blow up a ballot just because there wasn’t a lot of results. We really need to see some more games from a lot of teams to better understand things this season. That said, it’s amazing how some teams have already played more than a third of their games!

Due to a lot of things going on right now, this is going to brief this week (it’s already a few days late). Before getting to this week’s Top 25, here is a reminder of what my ballot was for last week’s Top 25:

1 – Christopher Newport
2 – St. Joseph’s (Conn.)
3 – Mount Union
4 – Case Western Reserve
5 – UW-La Crosse
6 – Keene State
7 – Johns Hopkins
8 – Randolph-Macon
9 – Williams
10 – Rochester
11 – Emory
12 – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
13 – Middlebury
14 – Oswego
15 – Mary Washington
16 – Calvin
17 – Nazareth
18 – Heidelberg
19 – Swarthmore
20 – Guilford
21 – Muhlenberg
22 – Wheaton (Ill.)
23 – UW-Oshkosh
24 – Catholic
25 – Stockton

St. Joseph’s remains in the second-slot of my ballot, though their last real challenge was Tufts a few weeks ago. (Courtesy: St. Joseph’s Athletics)

Now to how I voted in the Week 3 poll and maybe some comments if needed:

1 – Christoper Newport (unchanged)

2 – St. Joseph’s (Conn.) (unchanged)

3 – Mount Union (unchanged)

4 – Case Western Reserve (unchanged)

5 – Keene State (up 1)

6 – Williams (up 3)
I continue to be nervous about the Ephs. I like the make-up of their team, but worried the schedule hasn’t been much of a test. They beat SUNY Oneonta top follow up the win over RPI plus didn’t let Wesleyan trip them up. As a result, I figured I should move them up my ballot a little further. One small issue: Williams won’t play again until Dec. 29th though that will be a great holiday test against Clark.

7 – UW-La Crosse (Down 2)

8 – Rochester (Up 2)

9 – Randolph-Macon (Down 1)

Johns Hopkins fell a few more spots on my ballot after I thought more of the Muhlenberg result. Carson James is leading JHU in scoring this season at 16.3 ppg while handing out 4.3 assists per contest. (Courtesy: Johns Hopkins Athletics)

10 – Johns Hopkins (Down 3)
The Blue Jays didn’t do anything for voters to move them downward. They didn’t play any games. However, I had other teams moving around in the 5-10 slots plus the Muhlenberg result was still on my mind. I am not sure I reacted to the result enough last week (moving JHU down two) considering Muhlenberg had a loss to Swarthmore (five points in overtime). So, I moved Hopkins down a few more spots to where they felt more comfortable especially with others around them.

11 – Emory (unchanged)

12 – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (unchanged)

13 – Middlebury (unchanged)

14 – Oswego (unchanged)

15 – Mary Washington (unchanged)

16 – Calvin (unchanged)

17 – Nazareth (unchanged)

18 – Heidelberg (unchanged)

19 – Swarthmore (unchanged)

20 – Guilford (unchanged)

21 – Muhlenberg (unchanged)

22 – UW-Oshkosh (Up 1)

Freddie Ricks III leads the Celts in scoring (16.3 ppg) while being one of three in double-figured. Ricks and others have a number of eyes on St. Thomas (Texas) this season. (Courtesy: St. Thomas (Texas) Athletics)

23 – St. Thomas (Texas) (unranked)
I was wondering how long until I was voting for the Tommies Celts. I know they have a loss to what seems like a good Redlands team, but it was how they handled Trinity (Texas) – a team that isn’t what we expected them to be this season. Plus there are wins over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and East Texas Baptist that gives the impression this UST team is for real especially now that they fully qualify for NCAA stuff.

24 – Catholic (unchanged)

25 – Stockton (unchanged)

Dropped off:

Wheaton (Ill.) (Previously 22)
Admittedly, I am not sure what to think or do with the CCIW. Some teams are off to what look like terrific seasons and others stubbing their toes. Wheaton had an OT loss to one of those former squads – Elmhurst – and it left me scratching my head. I am going to have to dive in on the CCIW likely before the next vote and figure things out. Maybe Wheaton will show back up on my ballot at that point. For now, there are just so many teams across the country to consider small things seem to be reasons to make changes.

So that’s my ballot for Week 3. With already some interesting results (Hampden-Sydney knocking off CNU), we shall see what the pre-holiday break poll may look like.

Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’22-’23) – Week 2

Julianne Sitch led the UChicago men’s soccer team to it’s first-ever national title. In the process, Sitch became the first-ever woman to lead a men’s soccer team to a collegiate national title. (Courtesy: Dave Hilbert,

Welcome back to my Top 25 ballot blogs. I apologize for not getting my Week 1 ballot out as expected. The combination of basketball games (three) and Division III Men’s Soccer Championships coupled with some personal distractions caused this to be put on the back burner. I am hoping to make up at least by showing you my ballots so far in this blog. I will try and provide some comments about some of the teams, though not all (especially to keep these blogs shorter).

Please remember I am just one voter of 25 in this poll and I have never pretended to be one who is absolutely right on these nor do I pretend I am not wrong.

First, here is a reminder at my preseason ballot and a look at how I voted in Week 1 (Nov. 28):

Rank Preseason Week 1 +/-
 1. Randolph-Macon Christopher Newport +2
 2. Mary Hardin-Baylor Mount Union +3
 3. Christopher Newport St. Joseph’s (Conn.) +5
 4. UW-Oshkosh Case Western Reserve +2
 5. Mount Union Johns Hopkins +9
 6. Case Western Reserve UW-La Crosse UR
 7. Middlebury Oswego +9
 8. St. Joseph’s (Conn.) Randolph-Macon -7
 9. Oswego Keene State UR
10. Pomona-Pitzer Williams UR
11. Emory Middlebury -4
12. Trinity (Texas) Emory -1
13. Dubuque Rochester UR
14. Johns Hopkins Claremont-Mudd-Scripps UR
15. WPI Mary Hardin-Baylor -13
16. Hardin-Simmons Calvin UR
17. Rowan Mary Washington UR
18. Wesleyan Nazareth UR
19. Heidelberg WPI -4
20. Babson Hope UR
21. WashU Guilford UR
22. Stockton Swarthmore UR
23. Marietta UW-Oshkosh -19
24. St. John’s WashU -3
25. Nichols Stockton -3

Fell off the Preseaon ballot: Pomona-Pitzer, Trinity (TX), Dubuque, Hardin-Simmons, Rowan, Wesleyan, Heidelberg, Babson, Marietta, St. John’s, Nichols

Note: For both the preseason and Week 1 ballots, I did not refer back to how I had previously voted. Neither the end of last season or my preseason ballot. No notes, eye on positions, nothing. I certainly remembered a few items like Randolph-Macon had been my top selection, but nothing more significant.

That said, this week I went back to my more normal voting methods. I write down my previous ballot, then write down notes on results alongside each team, write additional note the print out receive, and then make decisions from there and finish my new ballot along side the old. I went back to it mainly because I noticed prior to my Week 2 ballot I had lost track of a couple of teams between Preseason and Week 1 that I would have spotted had the regular system been in place. So apologies to Dubuque, especially. They fell out of my ballot on Week 1 for no really good reasons, at the time. (I didn’t just put them back this week, the loss to Central gave me pause.)

Now to Week 2’s ballot. I may comment on a few of them:

Jahn Hines is leading CNU in scoring, but the Captains have a lot of weapons that make them the best team in DIII.

1 – Christopher Newport (unchanged)

2 – St. Joseph’s (Conn.) (up 1)

3 – Mount Union (down 1)

4 – Cast Western Reserve (unchanged)

5 – UW-La Crosse (up 1)

6 – Keene State (up 3)

7 – Johns Hopkins (down 2)

8 – Randolph-Macon (unchanged)

Brandon Roughley and the William Ephs are undefeated through the first-third of their season. (I’m shamelessly getting a pic of Roughley in as he’s a fellow Sarum Knight.)

9 – Williams (up 1)
I am not going to lie, I’m nervous about the Ephs. Their schedule is nothing to crow about, but at least they haven’t taken an early season loss that leaves everyone scratching their heads. The win over RPI stood out and gave me some confidence, though in the Top 10 feels too high. But as always, gaps develop on ballots and teams have to fill slots one wouldn’t have expected.

10 – Rochester (up 3)

11 – Emory (up 1)

12 – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (up 2)

13 – Middlebury (down 2)

Oswego has lost two of their tougher games so far this season – that could be a concern.

14 – Oswego (down 7)
I think the Lakers are going to be a very good team and likely will win the SUNYAC, but they have already stumbled in a couple big tests. Losing to Nazareth (likely one of the top three teams in the region) is one thing and losing to Brockport isn’t a shocking result … but the loss to Brockport was at home and the offense barely scored xx. It is a bit concerning and I likely am holding on to Oswego a bit more than I should – and I likey should have had them behind Nazareth at this point.

15 – Mary Washington (up 2)

16 – Calvin (unchanged)

17 – Nazareth (up 1)

Heidelberg’s win over Mount Union put them back on the ballot. (Courtesy: Alexis Calhoun/Heidelberg Athletics)

18 – Heidelberg (unranked)
I’ve been a bit yo-yo with the Student Princes. Part of that is similar to what happened with Dubuque and my process with my Preseason and Week 1 ballots, but the other was I may have overreacted to the UWW loss and the tight outcome against Bluffton. I still think Heidelberg will be part of the absolute battle atop the OAC.

19 – Swarthmore (up 3)

20 – Guilford (up 1)

Muhlenberg’s only loss this season is an overtime defeat to Swarthmore. (Courtesy: Muhlenberg Athletics)

21 – Muhlenberg (unranked)
Going into the season, I had my eyes on Gettysburg as being a threat to the top two in the conference (and I bought in to that too much) – I should have remembered some notes I left myself at the end of last season. The Mules (or is it Muhls?) have been a sneaky threat for a few seasons now and had more weapons going into this season than I remembered. Muhlenberg beating Johns Hopkins (first loss other than to Swarthmore in several years) was a bit surprising considering how JHU has been playing, but not when one remembers how much of a threat Kevin Hopkins’s squad really is.

22 – Wheaton (Ill.) (unranked)
I finally got a CCIW team on my ballot. I like what the Thunder have on paper, I just for some reason always want to see what happens ahead of them. I finally told myself to stop waiting.

23 – UW-Oshkosh (unchanged)

24 – Catholic (unranked)
I could have gone a bunch of different directions looking for the final team to add to my ballot. I felt stuck and dove into several corners looking for what I was missing .., and ultimately the Cardinals stood out.

DJ Campbell is leading Stockton in scoring (21.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.7 rpg) while taking twice as many shots as anyone else. (Courtesy: Stockton Athletics)

25 – Stockton (unchanged)
I am unsure if the Ospreys are a Top 25 team right now. I’ve left them on my ballot knowing they are down a few starters and other key guys haven’t been a full strength. My concern is I don’t think Stockton is the best of the conference (Rowan beat them good already this season; but has stumbled themselves) and I don’t know if the NJAC will do more than beat the heck out of themselves. Unsure when the next game will be to answer questions (other than a loss).

Fell off Week 2 ballot:

Mary Hardin-Baylor (previously 15)
Once again the Crusaders have had a turbulent start to the season. I loved that they went to the West Coast and got two quality wins with one interesting loss. However, a month off followed and that resulted in stubbing their toes again dropping the next game to Concordia-Texas. We will have to wait a bit longer to see if UMHB is going to be what we expected this season, but any at-large back-up plan is already in jeopardy.

WPI is off my ballot though is still a team I think we will still be talking about in March. (Courtesy: WPI Athletics)

WPI (previously 19)
I may be heavy-handed here with WPI, but I’ve been unnerved since the first game of the season (yes, I know it was a midnight game). Their schedule hasn’t been great other than their game against Hamilton which they loss. I think I’m going to wait and see … on a team, again, I was high on to start.

Hope (previously 20)
The Dutch have had a good start to the season. A loss to UW-Oshkosh isn’t bad and really the loss to Hanover isn’t too bad, either. However, when I’m looking for reasons to get other teams that I think deserve to be on my ballot I start to nit-pick for reasons to remove teams. Two-losses at this point along with a loss to the Panthers (which I don’t think is a Top 25 team) was my reasoning this week.

WashU (previously 24)
Like others, I think the Bear are going to be a very good team this season, but when looking for reasons to get other teams on the ballot kinks are magnified. A one-point win (following a loss) to Webster, a one-point win over 2-5 Augustana, and then the loss to Pomona-Pitzer (who I thought was going to be good but is 5-4 right now).

Again, I have never said I think I know who are the best teams, the Top 25 order, etc. The one theme over the last decade (or more) is how much more difficult it is to narrow things down each ballot. There are so many teams that have legit points and arguments while also having their own flaws. There is a reason there are 25 voters, and arguably have even more, for this poll – there needs to be that many opinions to truly suss out who the best are in Division III.


Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’22-’23) – Preseason (Part 3)

This is the third, and final, installment of my Preseason Men’s Top 25 ballot. I’ve already shared what my methodology was along with my Top 10 and teams 11-21 plus my thoughts on each team I voted. Below are my thoughts on the final five and then final notes on how my ballot worked out. A reminder as we re-start, here is my ballot so far:

UWO and Levi Borchert have had a tough start to the 2022-23 campaign, but I doubt anyone is overlooking the Titans especially when WIAC play begins. (

1 – Randolph-Macon
2 – Mary Hardin-Baylor
3 – Christopher Newport
4 – UW-Oshkosh
5 – Mount Union
6 – Case Western Reserve
7 – Middlebury
8 – St. Joseph’s (Conn.)
9 – Oswego State
10 – Pomona-Pitzer
11 – Emory
12 – Trinity (TX)
13 – Dubuque
14 – Johns Hopkins
15 – WPI
16 – Hardin-Simmons
17 – Rowan
18 – Wesleyan
19 – Heidelberg
20 – Babson

Reminder, the note after each team in parenthesis is where I ranked them at the end of last season – information I did not know or look-up prior to voting this season. The notes on each team were written shortly after I submitted by ballot in late October. I have not edited this or added anything based on results so far this season.

Justin Hardy was a beloved member of the WashU team who inspired the Bears throughout the 2021-22 season. Hardy will be missed throughout DIII. (WashU Athletics)

21 – Washington Univ (unranked)
There hardly is a season where WashU isn’t in the Top 25 conversation and for good reason. The bedrock for this program is extremely strong. This season they have a ton returning having lost only two – though one of those losses is not only impactful, but also emotional: Justin Hardy. One wonders how much the team was running high on “win it for Justin” last season and if there will be an emotional and motivating hole lingering this season. One thing I consider is the fact the team was playing without Hardy’s talents for much of the second half of last season and did well. All-American Jack Harvey has graduated, but the Bears have the UAA Rookie of the Year Hayden Doyle and Defensive Player of the Year Charlie Jacob back, plus Kevin Davet. The UAA will be very tough and WashU should be in the mix.

22 – Stockton (25th)
The Ospreys finally returned to the national conversation last season and made an already competitive NJAC another level tougher. Scott Bittner has the program and systems in place he’s wanted, and things are looking good outside Atlantic City. However, Stockton can’t surprise anymore. They do have all five guys who started in the NCAA Tournament back to go along with a lot of experience returning. They also added some interesting transfers. I just want to see how they do now that everyone knows how good they are.

Marietta lost a number of key players from last year’s final four run, but Cooper Parrott and others plan to keep the Pioneers in the national conversation. (Marietta Athletics)

23 – Marietta (2nd)
The Pioneers took the next step needed for the program and got themselves to the DIII Championship Weekend … where they ran into a literal Buzz-saw in Randolph-Macon. The challenge for the Pioneers squad now is dealing with the fact they had four starters graduate which accounted for 70% of the offense. The one thing I’m very cognizant of is that Jon VanderWal seems to have the team always ready to compete at the top of the OAC no matter how much has turned over with the program.

24 – St. John’s (unranked)
With St. Thomas no longer in the MIAC, the Johnnies have assumed the mantle of the conference target. St. John’s lost two starters including Zach Hanson, but 70% of their scoring is back in the likes of Ryan Thissan, Kooper Vaughn, and others. The one interesting development is the MIAC appears to be a bit more competitive than in past years meaning SJU must be ready every night. Pat McKenzie’s program has become a very consistent contender that I may be under-rating.

This may be Nichols last season in DIII. There are high expectations, but the first five games have seen two losses to NESCAC foes. (Nichols Athletics)

25 – Nichols (unranked)
This may be the Bison’s last run in Division III and they appear to have the pieces in place to finally take the program to the next level. While some important pieces graduated, they still return All-American and CCC Player of the Year Jakigh Dottin and two other All-CCC honorees all of which averaged double-figures last season and a fourth starter that average 9.9 points per game. Then add in some interesting transfers (some from DI which makes the likely move to DII feel a bit more planned out) and Nichols looks like it could be the team everyone knows is good but is trying to explain why they aren’t (you know the go-to: they play in the CCC).

Final Notes:

A few things that I noted about my own ballot when looking it over countless times:

IWU and the rest of the CCIW were left off my preseason ballot – a decision that certainly felt strange and likely will not be the case for the first in-season ballot. (IWU Athletics)

  • From last season’s final ballot, 12 teams did not make my pre-season ballot: Elmhurst (3rd), Wabash (4th), Ill. Wesleyan (8th), Mass-Dartmouth (13th), Williams (14th), Wheaton (Ill.) (15th), Chapman (17th), UW-Platteville (18th), UW-Lacrosse (20th), Berry (22nd), Hope (23rd), Calvin (24th).
  • I don’t have a single CCIW team in my Top 25. Yep. I noticed that, too, but not until I had submitted my ballot. At no time did it occur to me there was no CCIW representation. Illinois Wesleyan was my front runner and one of the very last teams I didn’t end up including. The issues pretty much came down to two things: IWU, Elmhurst, and others lost a LOT from last year’s squads; the difference between the bottom of the league and the top last season was stark. So, I didn’t have any teams that I thought “replaced” the likes of IWU or Elmhurst and I struggled to find strong arguments to get the Titans or Blue Jays on my ballot. Do I think there are no Top 25 teams in the CCIW? No. I just couldn’t determine who to remove to add.
  • Yes, I have three OAC teams. The counter to the CCIW, WIAC, and ODAC situation is I likely overloaded with the OAC. Again, not a conscious part of my work. When finished I then realized I had Mount Union, Heidelberg, and Marietta all on my ballot. I do think the top of the OAC may be the toughest in the country this season in terms of talent and depth, especially the number of teams with all those options.

So, there is how I voted in this Preseason Top 25 and some of my thoughts about it. Do I think I am right and know exactly who the top teams in Division III are? NO! I am one voter who has his perspective and read the tea leaves (data) in his own way (albeit different process this season). There are 24 other voters out there who have already shown not only in how the overall poll looks, but in some of their public offerings that they see things differently – in some cases, very differently.

That’s okay. I do not pretend especially with preseason polls to be the bellwether. I am learning just as everyone else is and I look forward to seeing what teams I missed on and even those I got right. I hope you enjoy it all as well.

The plan moving forward is I will try and post every week a new Top 25 poll is released. I never post this before the Top 25 is released. I don’t want anyone to think I am swaying or having any influence on any other voter. I will likely not comment on every team on my ballot, but I’ll try and show up much I moved them up or down, indicate reasons or insights with some teams and decisions, even highlight why I removed a team from my ballot. I will not include who else I am considering that didn’t make my ballot as I don’t have enough space, I always leave someone off, or it’s taken personally as if I missed something. You all can read between the lines, if necessary.

Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’22-’23) – Preseason (Part 2)

In the previous blog on my preseason ballot I gave a brief idea of my methodology this preseason along with a look at who was in the Top 10 of my Preseason Men’s Basketball Top 25. Here we will go through 11-20. A quick reminder, here are the Top 10 on my Men’s Preseason Top 25 ballot:

Josiah Johnson and his Crusaders found themselves #2 on Dave’s Preseason Top 25 ballot. (

1 – Randolph-Macon
2 – Mary Hardin-Baylor
3 – Christopher Newport
4 – UW-Oshkosh
5 – Mount Union
6 – Case Western Reserve
7 – Middlebury
8 – St. Joseph’s (Conn.)
9 – Oswego State
10 – Pomona-Pitzer

Reminder, the note after each team in parenthesis is where I ranked them at the end of last season – information I did not know or look-up prior to voting this season.

11 – Emory (#12)
One of the most consistent programs in the last decade has been in Atlanta. Jason Zimmerman has built a very good program not only in the deep south, but the UAA. Emory had the winningest class in program history graduate, including two starters and 60% of their points. That may seem like a lot for a near-Top 10 team. Like Middlebury, I didn’t initially expect Emory to be this high, but I needed to fill in areas with teams I initially expected to be lower. The Eagles do have their leading scorer, Logan Shanahan, back who was also second in rebounding and tops in blocks. Plus, watch out for Max Fried who gained a lot of experience and his game excelled in the final half of last season.

Trinity (TX) looked to be a beast, but they appear to not have their leading scorer back from last season … which raises questions. (Trinity Texas Athletics)

12 – Trinity (Texas) (unranked)
I spent much of last season watching the Tigers wondering when their balloon would pop. I had my own red flags placed on Trinity, but they continued to prove to not only be the best in the SCAC, but one of the best in Texas – which is saying something. Jimmy Smith has all five starters returning including multiple all-conference selections and SCAC Player of the Year Kaleb Jenkins. Trinity also has Ben Hanley returning after showing he would be a key contributor before a season-ending injury. The challenge will be they can’t fly under anyone’s radar anymore.

13 – Dubuque (unranked)
While doing the lead-up work and putting my ballot together I couldn’t get a voice in my head to stop saying “you may be the only one putting Dubuque (this high) on your ballot.” It did make me wonder if I was over-thinking things. Yes, losing a two-time conference player of the year stings, but there are still three starters back and half the team with lots of experience. I was also intrigued with some of the transfers coming in including one who played in every game for UW-Parkside last season.

Ethan Bartlett and the Blue Jays hope to keep JHU in the national conversation. (Johns Hopkins Athletics)

14 – Johns Hopkins (#21)
I debated putting JHU higher on my ballot, but I am curious how the Blue Jays adjust to losing Conor Delaney who helped shoot Johns Hopkins to a couple of Centennial championships. Hopkins has a wealth of talent back for a program that under Josh Leffler has returned to its former glory. The conference should be a tougher road this season, but JHU seems to be in the driver’s seat and Goldfarb Gymnasium is usually pretty difficult for visitors.

15 – WPI (#11)
I’m nervous on whether I’m making the right call with the Engineers. I mentioned on Bob Quillman’s Q-Cast in October that WPI is a team to watch. They had a seemingly unexpected, but great season last year and I mentioned I am expecting them to be even better. However, I then wondered if I had misread things when we got the Top 25 data. That data showed WPI graduated 35% of its offense. I still think WPI will be at the top of a competitive NEWMAC and looking to make waves, but they are 15 when I had initially thought they would be a Top 10 program.

Hardin-Simmons is out to a 1-3 start. Cowboys looked like a serious threat this season, but it may require reevaluating later in the season. (HSU Athletics)

16 – Hardin-Simmons (unranked)
Texas could be an interesting place to watch in DIII this season, especially the ASC. The Cowboys bring back a lot while losing some key pieces. However, I am more intrigued with the core group returning along with the transfer the team informed us via the Top 25 data request. They also may be a faster, more up-tempo, team than in the past and that could make Hardin-Simmons far more difficult to beat. They just must stay consistent. I thought about waiting to see more on HSU before buying in but went with a vote for the Cowboys anyway.

17 – Rowan (unranked)
The NJAC is always competitive as a lot of teams in the last few years have had coaching changes and are building strong programs. Rowan is a great example of that shift. Joe Crispin took over the program a few years ago and has seemingly re-built the Profs. Last year’s squad was pretty good but fell short a conference title. They bring back four starters, eight players who saw significant time, which adds up to most of their offense. Plus, they bring in a few DII transfers and Ryan Ems formerly of Scranton who is a large presence inside for Rowan.

Welseyan had it’s best season in program history in 2021-22. Nicky Johnson and the rest of the Cardinals could make it an even better history this season. (Wesleyan Athletics)

18 – Wesleyan (16th)
The Cardinals are coming the program’s best ever season. Yes, like many programs, Wesleyan graduated some of their talent, but they still have a wealth of experience returning. The NESCAC will not be easy (has it ever?). The bottom of the league has become more competitive and coaching changes in the last few years are starting to show results. I like Wesleyan and think they could maybe surprise while everyone is watching Williams, Middlebury, and others.

19 – Heidelburg (unranked)
The Student Princes surprised everyone last season and likely were a year ahead of expectations. Four starters and more than three-quarters of their scoring returns and they will need all the experience they can muster. The OAC will be yet another battle at the top with half the conference capable of winning the title.

Sophomore Nate Amado is averaging 25 ppg for Babson to start the season.

20 – Babson (unranked)
Something about Stephen Brennan’s squad has me intrigued. I didn’t think I would be voting for more than one NEWMAC team when I started this, but the Beavers have peaked my interest. They may be one of the riskier teams I’m eyeing as they have three starters and less than 30% of their scoring returning. However, Amado and Kirkpatrick are a strong duo and some of the talent coming in looks like it could contribute immediately.

In the final installment of the blog, I’ll share with you my 21-25 ranked preseason Top 25 men’s teams in Division III along with some final notes and personal reactions.