The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: What a finish to 2022.

December 31, 2022

By Riley Zayas,@ZayasRiley

Let me start by saying this. The day that we had in D3 women’s basketball yesterday I can only equate to the feel of an NCAA Tournament slate. We had scores from nationally-relevant games coming in throughout the day, plenty of on-the-edge-of-your-seat finishes, and a good number of unranked teams challenging Top 25 opponents. You really did not know what to expect from one game to the next, and that is the sort of slate we very well may not see again until March. 18 Top 25 teams were in action. Two of them lost, and five won games by less than 10 points. That should give you an idea of the sort of day in was with so much action playing out at one time. I guarantee you that come tournament time, we will still be talking about at least a few of yesterday’s results.

I didn’t know where to start with this, so I figured I should just go from the top…literally.

  • Top-ranked NYU was truly tested for the first time on Friday afternoon, in a 2020 NCAA tournament rematch with Bowdoin that certainly lived up to the hype. It was like a chess match from start to finish, both teams executing their offenses with remarkable effectiveness and poise. Both shot above 40 percent from the field (41.2% for Bowdoin, 49.2% for NYU) and it really came down to a few big forced turnovers from NYU late in the fourth quarter that kept Bowdoin from retaking the lead. Bowdoin turned the ball over twice with less than 1:20 left, but at no point did the Violets fully pull away. The lead changed hands a whopping 36 times and I was very impressed by the way both sides found ways to stay in the game with the pressure mounting. A 16-of-28 performance at the line is something NYU will need to improve on, but overall, the Violets got a very nice showing from Belle Pellecchia, who shook off a disappointing performance at Tufts in mid-December with 22 points. She is once again in the All-America conversation. Sydney Jones had 28 for Bowdoin and all signs are pointing towards her having a huge season for the Polar Bears.
  • Bowdoin’s fellow NESCAC rival Trinity (CT) pulled perhaps the most impressive win for an unranked team on Friday, taking down #13 Springfield ON THE ROAD, 58-45. Winning at Springfield is hard to do, but here’s the stat that jumped off the page in my opinion: Trinity outrebounded Springfield, 52-29. Yes, you read that right. Reilly Campbell and Emma Wax were exceptional on the boards, with 11 rebounds apiece. Springfield had just three second-chance points. When you can do that on the defensive end, you’re going to win nine times out of 10. The defensive effort was what impressed me the most about this big win for the Bantams. We know they can score, but solid defense will take you a long way in a deep conference highlighted by Amherst, Tufts, and Bowdoin.
  • Oh, and it’s probably time to expand the “NESCAC contenders” list beyond those four. Because Hamilton is making waves. The Continentals already boast wins over St, John Fisher and Rochester, and nearly shocked #8 Baldwin Wallace on Friday, falling 72-65. Hamilton actually led (at Baldwin Wallace), 51-50 heading into the fourth quarter. Credit to BW, who really turned it on in a 22-point fourth quarter, but I was very impressed by the way Hamilton approached this game. I had BW #5 in my unofficial Top 25 this past week for good reason, and aside from the Trine game back in November, hadn’t seen the Yellow Jackets tested the way they were Friday. Taylor Lambo had 28 points for Hamilton, 14 in the fourth, in a solid offensive performance. Hamilton gets another shot at a top-level team, when it plays at Ithaca on Monday. They’ll get Amherst and Trinity (CT) back to back on the road come late January.
  • So what did Baldwin Wallace do right? The Yellow Jackets were balanced, and let their depth power them to victory. 12 players played at least nine minutes, and performances like Kira Philpot coming off the bench to score 11 points in 19 minutes really drove BW to victory. The fourth quarter is when things really started to click, but I’d argue the Yellow Jackets’ best run came in the closing minutes of the second, after Hamilton had established a 33-21 lead. BW roared back, mounting an 11-1 run to go into halftime trailing by just two, 34-32. Obviously it would have been a much different story had that run not happened, and BW had gone into halftime down 12, or possibly more.
  • #9 Babson had a bit of an upset scare on their home court against Middlebury (another NESCAC program that could make some waves in conference play), and was tied 42-42 entering the fourth quarter. Babson put 19 points on the board over those final 10 minutes, and held Middlebury to just 10, but it was not a very convincing performance overall from Babson. The Beavers actually trailed 28-20 at the half, and could not really get anything going consistently on the offensive end. They had looks at the rim, but were unable to finish in the paint. 21 turnovers did not help either. We’ll see where Babson ends up in the next Top 25 poll, but I won’t have them in my Top 10. Chances are, this was a bit of the holiday break showing its effects, which is understandable. I’ll be interested to see how they fair against Tufts, Springfield and Hamilton (in that order) in mid-January.
  • Funny enough, for all the great basketball that was played, just one Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchup was on the slate. That was #7 Scranton’s home duel against #19 Tufts, a game that Scranton prevailed in, 68-59. Maggie Russell had 24 for Tufts, but it just wasn’t enough to take down a Scranton team that remains undefeated. Scranton led by a single point entering the fourth, but a 9-0 run created some significant separation. Tufts did not score for the first five-and-a-half minutes of the fourth, which isn’t a stat you want in a Top 25 matchup. Side note: I’ve heard of small rotations but Scranton might have the smallest rotation I’ve seen this season, playing just eight in this one. That says a lot about the stamina of the starting five, four of whom played 30+ minutes. Just six of the Lady Royals’ 68 points came from the bench.
  • In non-Top 25 news, UW-Stout lost its second straight game, as WashU rebounded nicely after a one-sided loss to UW-Oshkosh on Thursday. That looked like a completely different WashU team and I really liked the defensive effort, which didn’t seem to be there in full force against Oshkosh. Stout shot just 25% from the field.
  • Loras didn’t need to do anything else to earn a Top 25 spot in this next poll. Their recent wins alone qualify them for a spot, possibly in the Top 20. We’ll see. But the Duhawks went above and beyond on Friday, completely dominating a UW-Stevens Point team that had wins over UW-Platteville, Millikin, Wheaton and Luther. Loras won 85-58 as Sami Martin put 17 points in the board. Loras has so many scorers, I’m not sure opponents know who to focus on. The Duhawks had five players score in double figures!
  • Concordia-Moorhead is officially on my Top 25 watch list. I would not be surprised to see them challenge Gustavus Adolphus in the MIAC this year. After beating #6 Amherst in double overtime, the Cobbers pulled out a 40-point, 82-42 win over Salve Regina at the Classic Friday afternoon. Salve Regina is not a great team, but entered the matchup 7-2. The Cobbers filled up the stat sheet, shot 43.3% on 30 three-point attempts, and scored 33 points off turnovers. The ball movement offensively was especially strong, and gave way to plenty of open three-point shots. Remember, this is a team that beat Gustavus Adolphus earlier in the year as well.

Okay, I’ve officially maxed out as much as I can write. And there were still some pretty notable games that I didn’t get a chance to mention, like Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ OT win over Illinois Wesleyan. That’s the sort of banner day it was for D3 women’s basketball yesterday. A remarkable set of games that I really can’t say enough about. Kudos to all the coaches who have approached these tough schedules head-on. As always, feel free to email me at Or drop a comment below. I’ll be sure to respond. And while you’re at it, subscribe for free on Substack if you haven’t already! Enjoy your Saturday!

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.


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: December 2, 2022: Business as usual in the world of D3 women’s hoops

It was business as usual in the world of D3 women’s hoops last night. The Top 25 teams took care of business, and the rest of the “favorites” did the same, with no large-scale upsets coming about, a stark difference from the way Wednesday night went. And that’s a good sign. As much as I enjoy the fact that on any given night, “anybody can beat anybody”, it is good to see a level of consistency as we approach the one-month mark of the season. Most teams are close to one-third of the way through their schedules, and after nearly two full months of practice, are finding their rhythms.

Friday’s slate has the potential for another night of Top 25 teams going undefeated, but it won’t be easy. For one thing, Babson has a test tonight in Bridgewater, MA…

Game of the Day: #17 Babson (4-0) @ Bridgewater State (6-1), 8 pm EST

Babson has started off well, but so has Bridgewater State, and this is a big one for both teams, as it should increase each of their the non-conference SOS numbers. BSU’s offense looked good in Tuesday’s 95-91 win over Mass-Dartmouth, with Kylie Grassi and Sydney Bradbury forming a scoring duo that tallied 47 points. But they’ll be up against a strong test tonight, as Babson’s defense has not allowed more than 69 points in a game, and limited opponents to 28.2% from the field this season. Expect a game decided by single digits, with the score getting into the high-60s, maybe 70s.


  • Top 25 teams went 2-0 last night, with #6 Smith pulling out a 66-55 win over Eastern Connecticut, and #24 Hardin-Simmons taking down LeTourneau, 81-52.
  • Bench production is something I always try to pay attention to, as it is a good indicator of the depth of a team. Smith’s Ally Yamada came off the bench last night, scoring 16 points in 26 minutes on 4-of-6 three-point shooting. Also worth a mention, MIT’s Elise Harvey had 12 points off the bench in MIT’s 82-77 overtime win at Worcester State, and Mary Washington’s Sydney Sherman scored 18 in just 23 minutes, making all 10 of her free throw attempts as Mary Washington rolled to victory.
  • Speaking to that same point about individual performances, forward Jordan Ouellette played a full 40 minutes in the win for St. Joseph (CT) and Mitchell, scoring 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting and added eight rebounds.
  • My game of the day, between ETBU and McMurry, was very competitive through the first half, with ETBU leading by just three, 34-31, at halftime. But ETBU held nothing back in the third quarter, outscoring McMurry 24-8 in the third quarter, as the Tigers ran away with a 76-51 victory. McMurry, now 6-1, has started very well as I said yesterday, and the Warhawks proved they could play with one of the ASC’s top-level programs last night, even leading 18-12 after the first quarter. ETBU, having to replace a number of key players due to graduation, has continued getting solid contributions from Jade Goynes and Bridget Upton, who each scored in double figures.
  • There was a conversation on Twitter yesterday in regards to the Coast-to-Coast Conference, which is an eight-team conference comprised of schools in 7 different states and all parts of the country. Due to this set up, very few conference games are played, though the conference does have an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. Why not? The C2C meets the requirements set forth for an AQ, but I can understand the argument from the other side too; the side that says the C2C having an AQ is somewhat unfair, considering the lack of conference games, and that the C2C teams should be forced instead to vie for a Pool B bid. It is definitely an intriguing situation, but we must remember that it is the coaches of those programs who are forced to schedule nearly triple the number of non-conference games as most teams across the country. Their job is not easy. Potentially something could be worked out to increase the number of conference games within the C2C during the regular season (thus making scheduling a little easier on the coaches and adding some confirmation to the C2C getting an AQ) though finances become a factor there as well. For the time being, the C2C has an AQ. And to be honest, whichever conference CNU plays in, there’s a good chance they will win the league title, so it’s really not all that controversial. Unless the NCAA changes its AQ requirements, there’s no reason for the C2C to change its way of life. Just my $0.02. So the question is, should those requirements for an AQ be changed?

With that, I’ll end it here. Lots of great action set for tomorrow, but there will be some great games out of this slate tonight as well. Enjoy the action, and as always, feel free to leave a comment, question, or feedback in the comments section below.

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.

Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’18-’19): Week 7

Welcome to my Men’s Top 25 ballot blog. If you are familiar with this and have read it before, thanks for coming back. If you are new, welcome. I try and do this as often as I can – weekly is the goal – to give those interested insight on how at least one voter approaches the time and work to put a ballot together and how this voter ends up voting. A reminder that I am just one voter and I don’t expect any other voters to vote like I do, nor necessarily agree with my approach or reasoning. My take on things may be completely off one week and spot on the next (ok … maybe not that last part LOL).

This week I found my ballot had developed at least three “sections.” A top tier of team I am very comfortable knowing are some of the best in the country. A second tier I think are teams who are very good and could compete with the top tier but have shown flaws or inconsistencies so far this season – or I am just not sure are as good as their resume seems to indicate. Then a third tier of teams that are flawed, are not rising to their potential, or are difficult to truly grasp how good they are … or are not!

Whitman Blues are one of five teams Dave is comfortable saying are the best in the country.

One thing that has developed for quite a few weeks, I’m pretty set with my top five. They have shown to be the best in the country and no other teams have shown they should be in that group. It is the ballot spots after the top five where things get more interesting.

I can explain it more later, but I found myself in an endless loop near the end with the final five, maybe eight, poll positions. I could insert a number of teams that both felt like Top 25 teams, but also didn’t feel like squads that should be there. There are probably 15-20 teams I could slot into those five to eight spots and no combination was going to make me feel I had the right teams in the right spots.

In the last few blogs, I shared my thoughts on all the teams on my ballot. I won’t be doing that moving forward. I will select a few based on either movement up or down, being added or removed. If you are interested in my thoughts on teams, I have links shared with each ballot throughout and at the bottom of each blog.

The one thing I do feel comfortable saying: there are a lot of very good teams in Division III men’s basketball. We expected that fact this season and while some teams haven’t lived up to expectations, others have emerged who we are now talking about. March is going to be wide-open and the national committee is going to face a real challenge trying to balance the bracket the best they can with the limitations they are given.

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum – destination for DIII men’s basketball this season.

I was talking with a voter and another person familiar with the process recently and we all agreed, there are 12, maybe more, teams who could get to Fort Wayne and battle for a national title. Whoever wins this year will not have taken an easy road – no matter where they are in the country.

With that, let’s get to my Week 7 ballot. As a reminder, here is how I voted last week. For reference: NC (No Change); NR (Not Ranked).

1 – Nebraska Wesleyan (NC)

2 – Augustana (NC)

3 – Whitman (NC)

4 – Whitworth (NC)

5 – UW-Oshkosh (NC)

6 – Hamilton (Up 3)
I didn’t want to move the Continentals up at all, but I due to other results and decisions someone had to fill the six-spot. Hamilton got passed SUNY Geneseo in non-conference action, but their only conference game, against Amherst, had to be postponed due to the massive winter storm (I don’t follow the winter storm names, crap; read more why here). That game would have been very helpful and Hamilton benefits as the result of there being no game. Turnovers are still a concern for me especially in conference play.

UST has skyrocketed up Dave’s ballot and are once again back in the conversation atop the MIAC. (Courtesy: Ryan Coleman,

7 – St. Thomas (Up 3)
The Tommies continue their meteoric rise on my ballot (and the overall Top 25 poll) thanks to other results and John Tauer’s ability to get the most out of his team … and get them to focus on doing just that much better than their opponent. UST being back in the picture really makes the Central/West Region national conversation more interesting and complicated. Voters cast their ballots before St. Thomas’ game against St. John’s Monday evening. Tommies prevailed in overtime, but the two teams proved to me why the MIAC has two serious national contenders this season.

8 – Wabash (Up 3)
The Little Giants moved up, like others, mainly because of other results with other programs. I think Wabash is a good team, but this is starting to feel a little too high. I am not sure they are a top ten program. I might be wrong, but I am still leery with this position. These kinds of developments, along with Hamilton’s positioning, usually leads me to completely blow up my ballot in the near future.

9 – St. John’s (Down 2)
The Johnnies are a good team, but they didn’t have a good game against Carleton on Saturday. Stokman, one of the better guards in the country, was 0-10 from the field! Just one or two shots made and SJU is headed into their game with St. Thomas 14-1! I still think, despite their ranking, St. John’s is an under-appreciated program who should prove that between now and March. Of course, SJU ends up losing to UST in their first rivalry game of the season on Monday evening. My thoughts, compiled before the game, aren’t changed too much with that result. However, it did change my thoughts on the control St. John’s has on the MIAC and if they can use the home court to their advantage.

MIT’s AJ Jurko returned from what appeared to be a very scary injury to pour in 37-points against Babson in an OT win. (Courtesy: MIT Athletics)

10 – MIT (Up 7)
For most, the “yo-yo effect” talks about losing and gaining weight. In my voting world, it refers to a team I have all over my ballot from week to week. The Engineers fit that bill currently. If you have read these blogs or listened to Hoopsville, you know I think MIT is a very good team this season. However, they have been dealing with injuries especially with their core five all season. I dropped them significantly last week mainly because three guys were out, and it wasn’t clear when they would return. Don’t look now, two of the three are back including AJ Jurko whose injury against Coast Guard looked severe enough to not only be back boarded to an ambulance and on to the hospital, but also ended the game with just under three minutes to play. His return: 37-point explosion in an overtime win against Babson on Saturday. Hamilton Forsythe has also returned after missing most of the season and reports are Cameron Korb will be back this week – meaning MIT is going to be back at relatively “full strength.”

11 – Randolph-Macon (Up 2)

Williams dropped two games last week to Amherst and Middlebury which caused them to tumble a bit on Dave’s ballot.

12 – Williams (Down 6)
The Ephs had a bad week. First, they dropped their rivalry game at Amherst on Wednesday. Okay. That happens. One should expect that in their rivalry. It ended their unbeaten streak to start the season. I wouldn’t have done much with that. However, Williams then played host to Middlebury and lost that as well. That one is harder to figure, especially coming after a loss when you expect teams to be more focused on being sure to play well.

13 – Capital (NC)

14 – Marietta (NC)

15 – Lynchburg (Up 5)
I have probably been soft pedaling the Hornets for a few weeks now. I haven’t really bought in until now, though they are also in the midst of a very challenging stretch of games. They have gotten through Virginia Wesleyan, Washington & Lee, and Eastern Mennonite. However, the stretch continues with Guilford, Randolph-Macon, and Roanoke in the next three. (The ODAC’s demise is greatly exaggerated.) One little bird shared with me that Lynchburg reminds them of Ramapo from last season. It’s an interesting comment. I look forward to watching at least the next three games.

16 – Loras (NC)

17 – Swarthmore (Down 2)

Bob Semling always seems to have a team clicking defensively, but it seems the Pointers are off their defensive game lately.

18 – UW-Stevens Point (Down 10)
Williams wasn’t the only team who had a rough week. UWSP has had a rough two weeks. They have lost three of their last four to Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Platteville. Sure, the WIAC is the toughest conference in the country currently. Losses aren’t a surprise, so dropping a game to UWO was expected. The UWL outcome was a bit of a surprise, but the Eagles are also having a very good season. It was the UWP defeat that raised my eyebrows. The Pioneers were expected to be a good team this year (I had them on my ballot early in the season), but they have been very inconsistent. Having lost two of three heading into the UWP game, I figured UWSP would respond and show their medal. It didn’t happen. Feels like the rip cord suddenly got pulled. I may have been completely wrong when I felt this team was reminding me of the 2015 national champion squad. Ryan and I discussed the Pointers during the “Top 25 Double-Take” segment on Hoopsville this past Sunday night.

19 – Rochester (Up 2)

20 – Nichols (Up 3)

21 – North Central (Ill.) (Up 3)

22 – Amherst (NR)
The win over Williams gave me some reassurance that the Mammoths were maybe as good as advertised. I just really wish they had the Hamilton game to at least finish off the week and give me a result to counter-act the Williams game. Would they fall trap to Hamilton after the emotional win against the Ephs? Would they actually finish the week with another strong victory? How would it all play out? Amherst didn’t have the game thanks to Mother Nature, and it left me a little leery with this selection … for now. Side note: Our thoughts are with Dave Hixon and his family as they mourn the death of his mother last week.

23 – Arcadia (NR)
The Knights are one of those teams that has been flying under the radar for a while now. They are in one of the most competitive conferences in the country (MAC Commonwealth) that just hasn’t produced a national power. When talking to those who play against Arcadia, they site their solid defense, senior core, and a sophomore who may be the best player in the conference. The challenge with Arcadia is that their schedule doesn’t reveal a lot. You actually get more out of their losses to Salisbury and Swarthmore than their wins. My voting luck can be wrapped up with Arcadia quite well: I buy in and put the Knights on my ballot, and they follow it up immediately with a loss to Rosemont Monday night. This is why voting near the bottom of the ballot can cause one to pull their hair out.

24 – Wesleyan (Up 1)

25 – Wheaton (Ill.) (Down 6)
Those who know me might be surprised I dropped the Thunder so severely when they lost to second-ranked Augustana. As I mentioned last week, the Thunder are living and dying on the play of Aston Francis. He played well. That isn’t the issue. It’s the fact that Wheaton now has four losses on the season, and I am expecting a few more before things are all said and done. At some point, I want to see them beat a significant team. They upset UW-Oshkosh early this season which put the Thunder on everyone’s radar (along with Francis’ play). Since then, Wheaton hasn’t beaten a significant team while mixing in losses to Illinois Tech and North Park (4-14!) – they escaped NPU (82-75) in their rematch last week. Can I keep voting for a team which only has one significant result on it’s resume?

Dropped Out:

Plattsburgh’s Jonathan Patron is most likely not as happy with the position the Cardinals currently find themselves in the SUNYAC.

Plattsburgh State (Previously 18)
Going 0-2 in conference games last week was enough for me to step away from the Cardinals. Jonathan Patron is an outstanding talent, but teams seem to have clipped Plattsburgh’s wings. They just don’t feel like the same, strong team we saw last season. They now have three losses in the SUNYAC which puts them 2.5 games back of first place (Oswego State) and tied with Cortland who just beat them. All three teams in the top four (Oswego, Brockport, & Cortland) have defeated the Cardinals so far this season. Coincidentally, Plattsburgh was another team Ryan and I discussed in the “Top 25 Double-Take” on Hoopsville back on January 13.

Gordon (Previously 22)
I mentioned my nervousness last week about the Fighting Scots. The win over Nichols was good, but they had a lot of results that were tighter than I was comfortable with for a Top 25 team from the CCC. Gordon lost to Western New England this week and I decided it was enough to pull them from my ballot. You could say I was looking for an excuse, but harder to make that excuse when a team keeps winning.

As I indicated above, the last five to eight slots on by ballot could be a mixture including ten to twenty different teams. I have gone ‘round and ‘round this week and in the last few trying to determine who I think should be in those slots. I know other voters are doing the same, though I am surprised there aren’t more teams getting votes each week as a result of those debates. And of course, my luck showed with the choice of Arcadia only to have them promptly lose to Rosemont on Monday evening. Those are literally head-shaking moments for me as a voter.

So, the bottom five to eight can basically “represent” the third tier of men’s basketball which includes several teams and not all can be fit in. That’s little solace to those fans (even coaches) who want to see their team on someone’s ballot and especially the poll, but we can’t vote for everyone. Some may notice there are several one, two, and three loss teams I am not voting for that I have lumped into this third tier. Those teams just haven’t convinced me they are as good as gaudy records seem to indicate. Time will tell which is more accurate, I’m wrong or the records are gaudy, with each individual team.

Previous Blogs:
Week 6
Week 4
Preseason: Final Five
Preseason: 11-20
Preseason: The Top 10