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!
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)
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.
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, D3photography.com)
Welcome back to my D3hoops.com 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):
St. Joseph’s (Conn.)
Case Western Reserve
Case Western Reserve
St. Joseph’s (Conn.)
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.
Today marks a game that you’re not going to want to miss. It’s known simply as The Rivalry, and holds such a distinction, because, of all the rivalries in D3 hoops, this one has achieved a reputation, on both the men’s and women’s side, as being one that entire alumni bases seem to turn out for, great teams play in each season, and a significant amount of school pride on the line. Of course, I’m talking about Hope and Calvin. It’s the game of the day, and ever since I saw a tweet from Hope last night, proclaiming that it was 24 hours until tip-off, I’ve been excited. More on that below…
Game of the Day: #1 Hope @ #15 Calvin, 7:30 pm EST
This matchup, even in November, holds plenty of significance for both teams. For one thing, Calvin will be on its home floor, and provide a favorable backdrop for the Knights, who look to continue the momentum after taking down #9 UW-Whitewater on Saturday. Hope also needs this win, as it might just be the toughest test the Flying Dutch will face in the entirety of MIAA play. Stopping Gabby Timmer, Calvin’s talented preseason All-American forward, will be the No. 1 objective for Hope. If they can do that, chances of victory likely improve significantly. Plus, this is the first game in MIAA play! It feels way too early for Hope-Calvin. But here we are…
The biggest game of the night was the Top 15 duel between #14 Ithaca and #8 Scranton. Scranton seemed to have the upper hand all the way through, and emerged with a 74-53 win, in an impressive performance that solidified the Lady Royals’ standing as one of the nation’s Top 10 teams. The win is significant considering we as voters did not have a whole lot to go on when figuring out where to rank Scranton on Monday, considering the Lady Royals really didn’t have any notable wins within the first three weeks of the season. This was Scranton’s first test, and by my grade, they passed with flying colors. They were 7-of-17 from 3-point range, and had two 20-point scorers in Bridget Monaghan (20 pts) and Kaci Kranson (24 pts).
Western Connecticut State has now won three straight, after taking down St. Joseph (CT) in overtime last night, 65-63. WestConn is playing good basketball right now, and will be a contender in a very deep Little East Conference. They trailed 29-24 at halftime, but a Malaysia Dingle three-pointer with 12 seconds left in regulation sent it into an extra period. I was impressed by the play of forward Katelyn Fanning, who had 13 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. She is a do-it-all type of player for WestConn.
Emmanuel definitely gave #7 Amherst a run, though the Mammoths pulled it out, 58-53, staying perfect at 5-0. I’ll say this though, Amherst’s defense did not look good down the stretch. And neither did the offense. Emmanuel finished the game on a 19-4 run, but simply ran out of time for the comeback. So takeaways from this one were…Emmanuel is once again going to be competitive in the GNAC and the offense that put 104 points on Brooklyn this past Sunday might be the best offense Amherst has faced so far…and to its credit, Amherst made the plays necessary to stay in front, especially in the first half. It’s also surprising that Amherst continues to keep such a tight rotation, but it’s been what’s worked for Coach Gromacki for quite some time. Only eight saw the floor last night for the Mammoths.
An All-Region/All-American candidate to be paying attention to is Rochester’s Katie Titus. A D-II transfer who is a graduate student at Rochester, she is averaging 19.5 points per game through Rochester’s first four contests, and had 21 last night against Keuka. She is 38.7% from 3pt range and 53.8% from the field. Plus, she’ll be facing great competition in the UAA this season.
That’s all I have for today. Be sure to tune into a game or two tonight. You won’t regret it. Great basketball is being played across the country, and many conferences are tipping off tonight, adding an extra level of excitement and intensity to the mix. It’s a great day for D3 hoops!
Welcome back! What a day it was in D3 women’s hoops yesterday. Let’s get right into it!
Game of the Day: WashU @ Illinois Wesleyan, 4 pm EST
This is going to be a good one. Perhaps both of these teams deserve to be ranked. Perhaps both will. The bottom line is, WashU is still undefeated, having shown exeplorary effort in the comeback over #14 Millikin last week. IWU is 4-2, but those two losses are to Hope and UW-Whitewater, two teams ranked in the Top 4. IWU looked sharp in yesterday’s win over DePauw and will be on their home court, but WashU is looking better and better each time the Bears step out there.
Keep an eye on…
#7 Smith @ Trinity (CT), 3 pm EST
UNE (4-2) @ #11 Tufts (4-0), 1 pm EST
Swarthmore @ Washington & Lee, 12:30 pm EST
No. 4 UW-Whitewater was the highest-ranked of the Top 25 teams that fell yesterday, as Calvin came up with an upset, winning 66-64 on Whitewater’s home court. Talk about a big-time win for Calvin, who is now 5-0. It was tight all the way down the stretch, with Calvin refusing to go away, though the Knights trailed 34-31 at the half. In perhaps one of the most impressive plays from my perspective, Gabby Timmer stepped up on the defensive end for Calvin, blocking a Whitewater shot with under 20 seconds to play, Calvin leading 62-61. After a pair of free throws, the Warhawks again had a chance to tie it on a three, but failed to convert. Playing in a conference that includes Hope and Trine, wins like this one are huge come selection time in March (though Calvin in my opinion is a legitimate MIAA contender).
Whitewater wasn’t the only Top 10 team to fall. In another game I mentioned you should keep your eye on yesterday, No. 8 Trine suffered its second loss of the season at the hands of Ohio Northern, who is unranked, but also undefeated. Trine had a chance to go ahead late, trailing 51-50 with under 10 seconds left. But the three point try was missed, and Ohio Northern’s Brynn Serbin made a leap as the ball was traveling out of bounds of the hands of an ONU player. She grabbed the ball, and got it to a teammate before her feet landed out of bounds. The ensuing free throws were enough for a 53-50 win for ONU. Trine seemed to struggle more than I thought they would, but ONU is definitely a team I’ll be paying closer attention to in the weeks to come.
#5 Trinity beat #18 Hardin-Simmons for the second time this week, winning both on the road, and at home. Trinity will be at least #4 in my Top 25 ballot this week. The Tigers beat HSU 81-68 yesterday, as their offense continues to roll, and that is without Maggie Shipley, mind you. Her presence is worth at least another 8-10 points for Trinity, meaning we’re not even seeing the Tigers are full strength right now.
Augustana definitely has scorers. It will serve them well in CCIW play. Against Webster yesterday (an 87-64 win), four different players had double figures in points, including Carly Stone, who came off the bench with 14. Gabriela Loiz had 18 points in just 18 minutes of action and Presley Case nearly had herself a double-double, with 14 points and nine rebounds.
In today’s action, I’m keeping an eye on some matchups that could impact the way the Top 25 shakes out. As mentioned above, #7 Smiths plays a talented Trinity (CT) team on the road today. Smith has been somewhat inconsistent against quality, yet unranked opponents to start the year. But they’re also 4-0, and I really want to get a good idea of where they stack up amongst the nation’s best. UNE also plays #11 Tufts today in a game that I think could be close. UNE is 4-2, having played well as of late, but nobody has been able to slow Maggie Russell.
Enjoy the rest of your day and your weekend. Be sure to read The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops each day, either right here, or on my Substack.
Kenny Love and the overall #1 Whitworth Pirates moved back into second spot on my ballot.
It was an interesting week for the D3hoops.com Top 25 – at least I thought so. We are getting to the point where things appear to be getting more stable. I didn’t think we would ever get to that point and having said that I have probably jinxed myself for the rest of the season. However, I think myself and other voters are starting to feel more comfortable with far more of the ballot. It used to be just the top five, then maybe eight or nine, but now I feel like the top fifteen or more are a bit more solid and I am just working on filling out the rest. In other words, this week’s ballot felt more like ballots of seasons past!
Unfortunately, I did not get to see as many games online as I normally do this past week. Despite the fact a blizzard kept me indoors over the weekend, it didn’t mean I had all of this free time to just watch games. When you are expecting two to three feet of snow, you spend part of that time shoveling during the storm so you can open your doors and have less to break your back over after the storm. Thank goodness I got out a few times during the storm as three feet is what ended up falling on us and I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle that all at once (I am still shoveling three days later!).
As a result, I have concentrated my efforts a little more on posts on the Posting Up boards from those who see teams in action and know them the best. You have to be careful with this tactic as you will get some very different points of view from two people who were at the same game – seen through whatever tint their glasses are per their rooting interests. However, there are a number of solid posters who continually give great accounts of games or input that you can’t always appreciate watching a game online. I will admit, I am not great at breaking a game down through written word, so I truly appreciate those who do.
There still remains one major challenge: There are a number of deserving or seem-to-be-deserving teams worthy of Top 25 love, but not enough spots to put them in. Each week I struggle to figure out how to get teams on my ballot and figure out who to remove. In weeks past when there were losses-a-plenty, it was a little bit easier. However, the last few weeks have seen a downward trend in losses on my ballot meaning I have less teams I am willing to dump for others.
The other challenge comes with squads people think deserve to be in the Top 25 because they got a big win or two. One such team came up in conversation on Twitter recently:
While the tweet wasn’t directed at me, I saw it and it made me think. Wesleyan has been on my radar for weeks, but I keep having problems with some of their results. This past week they beat up on Amherst and beat Tufts as well. Pretty good week, right? But prior to that they had lost three of four games including Amherst beating up on them in a game that actually counted for the NESCAC. (Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams all play a second round of games against each other for Little Three bragging rights. The first Amherst-Wesleyan game counted for NESCAC play: Amherst won. The second game counted for the Little Three only: Wesleyan won.) By the way, when I say they beat each other up, Amherst won the first game by 24 and Wesleyan won the second game by 27. And then there is that Lyndon State (6-9) game the very first game of the season which Wesleyan lost by 2. While it was the first game of the season, it is still a loss I struggle to understand other than it was the first game of the season.
Rashid Epps and Wesleyan have had an up and down three weeks. Credit: Wesleyan Athletics
In my back and forth Twittersation with 757Basketball, they expressed bewilderment as to why Wesleyan wouldn’t be getting love for winning the NESCAC title last season. This is the funniest part because I can’t tell you how many people will tell me they want me voting on only this year’s results, while another set of people understands if I take history into account (not winning a title, but trends and consistency), and other set of people want me to lean heavily on history. I can’t win! LOL
Wesleyan is ranked in the Top 25 on this week’s D3hoops poll, but I will break the suspense and tell you they are not on my ballot below. The Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde routine of the past three weeks doesn’t make make comfortable putting them on my ballot just yet. However, the Cardinals have some solid opponents coming up in the final five games of the season. Play well and I am sure I can find room on a crowded ballot.
One more thing before I continue on with this week’s ballot, I want to recognize Ira Thor and Ryan Scott. Last week Ira started blogging his ballot for the world to see and Ryan Scott followed suit with his blog this week. They both recognized the fact I am doing it as part of the reason they are being transparent and I congratulate them for taking what is honestly a bold step forward in revealing their voting and even thinking behind their decisions. It only helps to give people a better understanding of how different voters vote because there are 25 completely different voters with very different mindsets and interpretations. Some of us might chat with one another, but we certainly don’t all vote the same way. To see their ballots, you can click here for Ira’s and click here for Ryan’s.
Now on to my ballot from this week (forgive the lack of brevity for some of these, not a lot of time this week for writing):
1 – Augustana^ (Unchanged)
2 – Whitworth* (Up 1)
3 – St. Thomas* (Up 1)
4 – Benedictine (Up 1)
5 – John Carroll (Up 1)
6 – Ohio Wesleyan (Up 1)
Elmhurst last unbeaten to lose in the CCIW this season.
7 – Elmhurst (Down 5)
My point a few weeks ago when Augustana lost to Elmhurst on the road was that I expected the Vikings to lose a game in CCIW play. It’s been 43 seasons since someone went through conference play undefeated and I didn’t expect it to happen this year. As a result, I did not and I have not moved Augustana off of my top spot. So Elmhurst losing to North Central, on the road, isn’t all that surprising in the fact that I didn’t expect the Blue Jays to go undefeated in the CCIW either (or they would have been my number one team!). However, it was an 18-point loss not a two-point, overtime loss like Augustana’s. North Central shot very well and Elmhurst was average. So I knew I was going to drop the Blue Jays a couple of spots. They fell a few extra spots only because I couldn’t argue they were better than the teams ahead of them right now. So, five spots is a tough drop for a road loss in conference, but to be honest I expect them to lose another road game this week (Augustana).
For those wondering, no, North Central did not make my ballot this week. I only have one five-loss team on my ballot and seriously considered dropping them off this week as well. It is a decision I am not exactly sure of even as I write this, but it is the decision I went with when it click “submit.”
8 – Hope (Unchanged)
9 – Christopher Newport (Up 1)
10 – Susquehanna* (Up 1)
11 – Marietta (Up 1)
12 – Chicago^ (Up 1)
13 – Johnson and Wales (Up 2)
The Wildcats continue to dominate in their conference. I am serious when I say even Albertus Magnus didn’t dominate the GNAC like this in the last few years. 36 points per game! But for those who have followed my blog over the years, you will notice J&W is in about the same spot as AMC has been this time of the year almost every season.
14 – WPI (Up 2)
Lord Jeff no more at Amherst. Just part of a rough week on campus. Credit: Independent Journal
15 – Amherst (Down 6)
Not a good week for the Lord Jeffs – and the final time I will probably be uttering those two words. I’m not sure the ramping up style of scheduling Amherst has done over the last few years (starting with easier opponents and working towards more challenging ones before conference play) is working out this season. That coupled with the fact the NESCAC is a far deeper conference than in years past contributed to a 1-2 week for Amherst. Wesleyan, as noted earlier, and then Colby nipped the purple team from central Massachusetts. The only bright spot, a thorough thumping of Bowdoin in the middle of a three-game road trip. It won’t get any easier for Amherst, maybe, as they continue what is a five game road stretch with games at Williams (12-6) and Trinity (14-4) this week. Amherst is clearly not as good as what voter’s thought in the preseason (#3) nor I (#5). I will be watching very closely to see how Dave Hixon’s squad responds this week.
16 – Alma (Up 2)
17 – Texas Lutheran (Up 2)
18 – Lancaster Bible (Up 2)
19 – St. Norbert (Unranked)
I am making up for last week’s mistake of accidently leaving St. Norbert off my ballot. However, it might have been a blessing in disguise. It forced me to reevaluate the Green Knights since I had them off my ballot. I needed to find a spot to place them and maybe broke up a rut I was in with SNC. I didn’t seem to be able to move them out of the twenties. This might get me moving them around a bit more since with two-losses they are playing better than expectations – AGAIN. I could have moved them up further as well, but at least they are back on the poll where they deserve to be!
20 – Roanoke (Up 3)
21 – Northwestern (Up 3)
22 – Brooklyn (Up 3)
Mount Union needs to win a big game other than Chicago earlier this season.
23 – Mount Union (Down 9)
I’ll be brutally honest, despite having them 14th and losing to a team I and the D3hoops.com voting group had ranked ahead of them (Marietta), I almost pulled the plug on the Purple Raiders. Five losses are the most any team has on my ballot. It is also the most on the overall poll, but that team is North Central. I realize Mount Union has played a very difficult schedule, in what has become a fascinatingly tough OAC race, but at some point I have expected UMU to beat a ranked team! They have a win over Chicago, but they have losses to William Paterson (once ranked), North Central, John Carroll, and Marietta (last two in back-to-back games). What is worse, when Mount Union losses it isn’t close. The average spread in a loss is 13.8 with six being the closest in a game against Colby. I decided to hold on just a little longer because I think the Purple Raiders are a very good team, but they won’t get another “big” game until Feb. 17 against John Carroll. I expect them to win every game between then to be blunt.
24 – Tufts (Down 7)
I nearly pulled the plug here as well. The Jumbos have lost two of their last four including to starting-to-get-hot Middlebury and schizophrenic Wesleyan. At least the games have been close, but as NESCAC play has intensified Tufts seems to be wilting a little. They only beat Conn College by two the other day on the road. Interestingly, Tufts has two non-conference games in the next three which might not tell us anything, so I wait patiently.
25 – Franklin & Marshall (Down 4)
The Diplomats only ended up playing one game due to the Blizzard last week and lost to Gettysburg (they have since beaten McDaniel in a twice-postponed-game). While F&M made a run in the second half to try and make it interesting, the Bullets pulled away in the end and left F&M floundering with 57 points. This is the same point in the season last year when the unexpectedly hot season fizzled on the Diplomats. They had started 14-0 and 7-0 in conference before losing their first game on January 17. They would go on to lose six of their final twelve games of the season and miss out on the NCAA Tournament. This is basically the same team, expect supposedly with more experience. However, the conference isn’t scared of the Diplomats and with Dickinson looking to prove they are still good coming up and a tough finishing set of games remaining, F&M needs to put the blinders on and focus on the task at hand – securing home-court advantage for the Centennial playoffs or this season is going to end just as suddenly as last year’s.
Trine’s undoing started with a loss at Calvin. Courtesy: Trine Athletics
Trine (Previously 22)
I did to Trine what I nearly did to Mount Union. After starting the season 10-1, the Thunder have gone 3-3 in their last six and now sit 3-3 in the conference race in a three-way tie for third. Furthermore, they haven’t beaten the really good or ranked teams on their schedule. They have lost to Ohio Wesleyan, Calvin, Hope, and Alma. Three of those teams ranked and all three conference losses to teams ahead of tied with them in the standings. Trine needs to man-up and get a significant win. They have a home game against Calvin coming up this week which can help them greatly (since they are tied with the Knights in third place), but Hope and Alma won’t show up on the schedule for a few more weeks.
* – teams I have seen in person this season
^ – teams I have saw in person last season
So, only one team entered the ballot (with one team dropping out) and it’s the first team to re-enter my ballot this season. They also shouldn’t have been off my ballot in the first place!
There are still probably 20 or so teams I have “on my radar” that I spend the most time on each week trying to figure out if they deserve to be on my ballot or not. And if they do, who should be removed.
Sometimes I blow up my ballot because I have gotten into ruts and teams probably should be moved more drastically then I am allowing in its current structure. Other times I blow it up is when I feel like I have put myself in a corner and can’t find good enough reasons to move teams on or off accordingly. This week with the bottom third of the ballot feeling somewhat set, I feel a ballot blow up coming… just to shake up my thinking.