Dave’s Top 25 ballot – Week 12

After the last few weeks and with conference schedules wrapping up and tournaments beginning, I was pretty much expecting my weekly Top 25 efforts to once again be challenging. So I was pleasantly surprised when watching the week and weekend unfold and seeing very little carnage on the men’s side. Of the 25 teams, only seven took losses and all were single losses. It gave me a chance to take a deep breath before what will surely be plenty of carnage for Week 12’s ballot.

It seemed to be a birthday present to me of which I am very grateful!

With the lack of carnage also meant for the first time in weeks I had very few possibilities to bring in a new team to my ballot. That did make it challenging in terms of who to pick from at least ten teams, but it also made selecting who would fall out of the poll a bit easier.

So, here is my Top 25, which you will notice features ten teams that didn’t move up or down and features 24 teams I had in last week’s poll. As we get started, here is a reminder of my rather frustrating ballot last week.

1 – UW-Stevens Point (Unchanged)

2 – Cabrini (Unchanged)

3 – Illinois Wesleyan (Unchanged)

4 – Wash U. (Unchanged)

5 – Wooster (Unchanged)

6 – UW-Whitewater (Unchanged)

7 – Amherst (Unchanged)

8 – St. Norbert (Unchanged)

9 – Williams (Up 1)

10 – Wesley (Up 1)

11 – WPI (Up 1)

12 – Randolph-Macon (Up 3)
The Yellow Jackets continue to play very good basketball in one of the toughest conference in the country. They had a big rivalry game against Hampden-Sydney and it turned out to be no contest. I think that alone told me a lot about RMC since in any rivalry game and no matter the records going in, things happen.

13 – St. Thomas (Down 4)
A single loss isn’t usually the death nail for a team, but the loss to St. John’s marked a season sweep of the Tommies by the Johnnies. Do you know the last time that happen?! Ok, it’s the second time in three years, but if the Tommies are that good it should never have happened! I am not sure if I have been overrated with the Tommies, but the MIAC tournament will give all of us a better sense of just how good or not St. Thomas really is.

14 – Texas-Dallas (Unchanged)
The Comets take a loss and don’t move in my rankings. I know, even I had to look long and hard at that for a while. The loss was to Mary Hardin-Baylor who have now rattled off eight wins in a row and could cause plenty of problems in the ASC tournament (heard that script before?), so I wasn’t going to knock the Comets too hard for that in the first place. However, I also couldn’t justifying moving them behind teams further down the poll. Many pollsters talk about what I call the pillow effect: a team only falls as far as those below them allows. In some cases, if there are enough losses happening further down the poll, a team can only fall so far. In this case, there are teams behind Texas-Dallas I don’t think are 14th in the country, limiting their fall to… zero.

15 – Mary Washington (Up 3)
This may be a steep rise for the Eagles who seemed in disarray and are only back to their winning ways because they played the bottom of the CAC in the last few weeks, but I also didn’t have a good reason to move teams behind them ahead of them. So consider this filling in the empty spot at 15 instead of my indication that I think everything is okay in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

16 – Albertus Magnus (Up 3)
Another example of maybe too big a leap in my Top 25. I think the Falcons are a good team, but I am not convinced they are world beaters and will go far in the NCAA tournament (they are welcome to prove me wrong). They are moving up, though, thanks to Purchase State losing. Despite a head-to-head win over Albertus Magnus over Purchase State, I had the Falcons behind because of a bad loss in conference. Now Purchase has picked up a similar resume blemish and thus AMC moves ahead.

17 – Centre (Up 4)
Similar to Mary Washington, I was going to move the Colonels up the rankings anyway, they just moved a little further north then I intended. These kind of moves and my concern they are too big a leap further explains why I didn’t feel comfortable moving Texas-Dallas down and opening up the 14-hole.

18 – Whitworth (Down 2)
Losing to Lewis and Clark on the road in overtime probably deserved a bigger drop, but there is only so far I can drop the Pirates before I run into teams I think Whitworth would beat on any court. The loss doesn’t bode well for Whitworth’s post-season aspirations of playing deep into March, but it could also be the spark that finally ignites a team I think has been playing below-par all season.

19 – Purchase State (Down 2)
Again… I can only drop Purchase State so far before there are teams I don’t think they deserve to be behind on the ballot. Their loss this past week to St. Joseph’s (Long Island) is unforgiveable and is not going to help them when it comes down to possible hosting opportunities in the NCAA tournament, but maybe they can use the loss as the motivation they need to focus on the task at hand.

(Side note: Does anyone else find it interesting that Albertus Magnus and Purchase State both lost to St. Joseph’s teams in their conference? AMC to St. Joe’s of Main and Purchase to St. Joe’s of Long Island. Fascinating.)

20 – Hope (Unranked)
There are plenty of teams I thought about bringing on to my ballot with better records, but Hope is playing better than most, I think. The Flying Dutchmen have won 11 in a row and are blowing teams out in their conference. They have a season sweep of Calvin and are very highly ranked by the NCAA regional (and national) committee. I have honestly been waiting for the shoe (pun intended) to drop thus why I have been leery about putting Hope on my ballot. However, they appear to be getting stronger and could end up being a surprise in the NCAA tournament after their season started 1-4 and 3-5!

21 – Brockport State (Down 8)
Yes, the Golden Eagles went 2-1 with just that lone loss to a good Oswego State squad, but they are playing without their best player who may be out for the reason of the season with a knee injury. John Ivy is a tremendous player, but his status is known (I have heard nothing official from anyone) and I have to work under the assumption he is out for the year. That changes this squad completely and I don’t think they are nearly as good as they were with him in the line-up. Brockport will make the NCAA 7tournament, but without Ivy they are not a Top 15 team.

22 – Staten Island (Up 1)

23 – Scranton (Up 1)

24 – Rose-Hulman (Down 2)
The Engineers eight-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Mount St. Joseph’s (what’s with the St. Joe’s-named teams?!), but I don’t think that is a horrible loss for Rose-Hulman. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt since they had the conference regular season wrapped up and were going to host the conference semifinals and championship no matter the outcome (they had swept Defiance this season).

25 – Richard Stockton (Unchanged)

Dropped out:

Ohio Wesleyan (Previously 20)
I don’t know what to make of the Battling Bishops or for that matter the NCAC. After DePauw looked great, they fell apart. After Wittenberg looked great, they have struggled. Now Ohio Wesleyan looked great and they seem to be unraveling. Mike DeWitt’s team is 3-3 in the last six games. I just don’t think they are playing like a Top 25 team.

Other ballots:
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 3
Week 1

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 12

Parity… it has to be parity. Twelve teams in the D3hoops.com Top 25, including mine, lost a game in the last week. Eighteen teams receiving votes by voters lost a game. It has to be parity. What else could explain why this late in the season trying to figure out where teams fit on a Top 25 ballot is still a head-scratching experience.

Illinois Wesleyan moved into #2 on Dave’s ballot, but whether they stay there will depend on whether they can finish the CCIW campaign undefeated after their tussle with North Central.

This week, because of the number of teams that lost from top to bottom, some teams didn’t really shift that much on my ballot. Teams moved up and down, but only one made a dramatic move (Rose-Hulman) and once again I was thinking about who I should have in the last five spots.

So with just one ballot left until the NCAA tournament begins (and two total), here is this week’s version:

1 – St. ThomasUnchanged

2 – Illinois WesleyanUp 2 spots
I am not sure if the Titans are the second best team in the country, but when everyone else doesn’t seem to want that distinction, the mantle passes to IWU. The Titans have a chance to be the first team since 1973 to get through the CCIW schedule undefeated if they can past North Central on Tuesday – but that game could also mean I am searching for another #2 next week.

3 – Hampden-SydneyDown 1 spot
I still think the Tigers are a team that could make a serious run in the NCAA tournament despite their loss this week. Of course their loss was at home, but it was to an always tough Virginia Wesleyan team that used the game to wrestle the regular season title away from the Tigers. Considering there will be no home court advantage in the ODAC tournament, I think Hampden-Sydney has the best chance to win the conference title.

4 – AmherstUp 3 spots
I stated on Hoopsville that I even after the triple overtime win over Middlebury I didn’t think the Lord Jeffs were a top five team. However, I also admitted that Amherst could move into the top five simply because of the number of teams that loss. I think Amherst is a really good team, but they have some things that give me concern on whether they can make a significant run in the NCAA tournament – similar concerns that cost them a deeper run last year. Let’s see if they prove me wrong in March.

5 – WPIUnchanged
The Engineers lost to MIT on the road, but held onto the top seed in the NEWMAC thanks to a double-digit rally against Clark. The only two losses for WPI came back-to-back against Springfield and MIT on the road in what might a testament to just how tough the NEWMAC has been than any weakness of WPI may have. Thanks to those already discussed losses by other teams, moving WPI down didn’t make any sense.

6 – MiddleburyDown 3 spots
The Panthers made an great comeback on Amherst, but were the victims of an incredible purposely missed free throw put back to force a third overtime which they would eventually lose. I was chatting with Pat Coleman during the game that if Middlebury won, I would consider keeping them at #3. I also stated that if they lost, I could move them down to where Amherst was. Well, they are a spot above where Amherst was on my ballot last week and I am fine with that. The Panthers are a good team, but like Amherst I think they have some flaws that could cost them a significant run in the NCAA tournament. And like Amherst, let’s see if they prove me wrong.

7 – CatholicUp 1 spot
I saw the Cardinals for the fourth of fifth time in person this week and once again they reminded me why I feel so confident in their squad. They came back from a loss to Scranton with a beatdown of my alma mater, despite the game not starting all that well (Goucher can force that in teams this year). In fact, they were playing so well in the second half, I swear Coach Steve Howes was using the opportunity to practice different offensive and defensive looks they made need in March. Now they have a chance at their first Landmark Conference championship title and first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 – their last year in the CAC.

8 – WhitworthUp 1 spot

9 – North Central (Ill.)Up 2 spots

10 – RochesterDown 4 spots
Have the Yellowjackets peaked too early? They had a two-game lead in the UAA, three games over Wash U., at the beginning of the month. Now they have to beat Emory to win the UAA. Should they lose, they will finish in a three-way tie at the top of the conference and will lose in the tie-breaker. They have lost two of the last three including Sunday’s six point loss at home to now 12-12 Case Western Reserve – ending a 35 game winning streak at the Palestra. Sometimes a loss near the end of the season is the perfect kick in the butt for a team, but you would have thought that loss would have been at Wash U. last week.

11 – St. Mary’s (Md.)Down 1 spot

12 – CalvinUp 2 spots

13 – UW-Stevens PointUp 2 spots

14 – WoosterDown 1 spot

15 – RamapoDown 3 spots
The Roadrunners are once again making me wonder what is going on. Yes, William Patterson is a good team, but they aren’t world-beaters. You would have thought Ramapo would have given the conference a message by beating the Pioneers and maybe set up the NJAC tournament up a bit differently. Instead, they will have to face the Pioneers in the conference semifinals Tuesday. They have lost both games this season to William Patterson and if they don’t want to find themselves on a fragile bubble they better figure out how to actually beat the Pioneers.

16 – Rhode IslandUnchanged

17 – WilliamsUp 1 spot

18 – Wheaton (Ill.)Up 1 spot

19 – UW-WhitewaterUp 2 spots

20 – MITUp 3 spots
The Engineers are back in the conversation thanks to winning eight straight games including a win at home against WPI. They still don’t have two of their top players from last year’s team back from injury, but Will Tashman has stepped up with the rest of this teammates, like Michael Kates, and has become the first MIT player with 1000+ points and 1000+ rebounds in his career. They may be a team to watch out for in the NCAA tournament because they aren’t going to be nervous.

21 – Cortland StateDown 1 spot

22 – Rose-HulmanDown 5 spots
Man, did the Engineers lose a bad game or what? Granted, Earlham finished the week with a two-game winning streak, but they were 2-21 entering the game against Rose-Hulman. The Engineers did win on Saturday and will host the HCAC tournament – which they won on the road last year. I wasn’t going to take Rose-Hulman out of my rankings for the loss to Earlham, but I certainly thought long and hard about doing it.

23 – Virginia WesleyanUnranked
Last time I put the Marlins back in my poll, I said it looked like they might have righted the ship… then they lost. So, I do put them back in my poll while knowing they could easily loss in the ODAC tournament despite being the top seed. However, a win on the road against Hampden-Sydney to take the top seed away from the Tigers along with winning six straight and 12 of the last 14 while battling through the ODAC is worth noting.

24 – AlverniaUnranked
The more I talk to different coaches in the Mid-Atlantic, the more Alvernia’s name keeps popping up. Many coaches think they are one of the best teams in the region. They won the MAC-Commonwealth regular season title by two games over crosstown rival Albright and beat a pretty good Lycoming team this past week. The road to the NCAA Tournament will go through this Reading, Penn. gym and not the other, so I like the Crusaders chances.

25 – HobartUnranked
Coach Mike Neer is proving again he can get a team rolling at just the right time of the year. They have won 11 straight and dominated the Liberty League. While they may not have the strongest out of conference schedule, they also didn’t exactly have the strongest schedule last year before nearly getting to the Sweet 16.

Dropped out:

Washington Univ. (Mo.)#22 last week
The Bears just can’t figure out road games! They loss to a decent NYU team in a game they shouldn’t have lost on the road Friday night. They certainly rebounded well on Sunday against Brandeis, but the damage was already done. I appreciate the abilities this Wash U. team has and the schedule they have played and I realize they are in a good position in the regional rankings to probably make the NCAA tournament as a potential Pool C bid, but I just don’t have any confidence they can make any type of run in the NCAA tournament.

Wesley#24 last week
The Wolverines are a pretty good team, but they already knew Salisbury had beaten St. Mary’s earlier in the week so you would have thought they would be ready for the Seagulls in the last game of the season. Wesley is now 2-2 in the last four losing to the other top teams in the CAC and after winning 11 straight games I wonder if like Rochester they peaked too early.

Old Westbury#25 last week
I realize it was the Panthers first loss since NYU on Decemeber 5th and it was their first loss at home, but it was to now 13-12 Sage and would have meant an undefeated season in the Skyline Conference. I think maybe the Panthers were looking ahead. I like how Old Westbury has played and overcome many adversaries this year, but they have to stay focused. And when you are already at the bottom of my ballot, one loss will usually cause you to slip out.

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 11

Hampden-Sydney is a team Dave thinks is very under rated and his biggest ballot move was placing the Tigers at #2.

I mentioned last week it seemed voting in the Top 25 seemed to be getting harder, more challenging as the season progressed on. Usually it gets a bit easier as the top teams cement themselves a bit and you are only making some adjustments. This past week proved that this season is wide open and as Pat Coleman said on Hoopsville Sunday night this could lead to a very fun national tournament this year.

Of the 25 teams on my previous ballot, seven teams lost nine games with four of those teams and five of those losses happening in my top six. As a result, there is some major adjustments at the top of my ballot and not the bottom, for a change.

This was rivalry week with almost everyone playing an arch-rival, so I did consider that major fact while looking at some losses and wins this past week.

1 – St. ThomasUp 1 spot
In the matter of three weeks, the Tommies have moved out of the top spot on my ballot and then back. They have moved past their lone loss and looking like one of the toughest teams in the country.

2 – Hampden-SydneyUp 6 spots
I have stated numerous times that I think the Tigers are the most underrated team in the country. They play in one of the toughest conferences in the country and seem to be putting their foot down emphatically. They trounced their arch-rival, Randolph-Macon, on the road to sweep the season series for the first time in years. And when you look at the SOS numbers, they are impressive. Ahead they have a major clash with Virginia Wesleyan coming up Wednesday in which the Tigers could clinch the ODAC regular season crown.

3 – MiddleburyUp 2 spots
Middlebury may be a bit overrated at #3, but with so many teams losing in this part of the ballot, they simply migrated up the poll. I didn’t feel comfortable placing the Panthers #2 because of the number of close games and their one-point win over Williams now looks less interesting with Amherst looming on Tuesday night.

4 – Illinois WesleyanUp 4 spots
Last week I said the Titans would probably have to win the CCIW to crack my top five, but thanks to numerous losses ahead of them and another dominating week in the CCIW, they have moved up accordingly. The only test left for an undefeated conference season is North Central on the road… if they don’t overlook Millikin first.

5 – WPIDown 3 spots
Almost everyone was waiting for the Engineers to lose their first game and it never seemed to be coming until Springfield got the job done Sunday afternoon. Springfield is having a good season and has a win against Amherst on their resume as well, so losing to the Pride on the road isn’t a shock. Now whether it was the delay thanks to an historic blizzard or just playing in a tough place, WPI has to right the ship quickly since they have MIT and Clark on the road to finish.

6 – RochesterDown 2 spots
We know the UAA is a tough conference mainly because of the travel required, so we shouldn’t have been surprised that Rochester couldn’t stay undefeated in the conference. But Rochester is now 2-2 in the last two weekends and is holding on to a one game lead in the conference with three to play. And the team behind them, Wash U, dominated Rochester in St. Louis which you hope doesn’t mean Rochester peaked too soon.

7 – AmherstUp 3 spots
The Lord Jeffs had already thumped their arch-rival Williams in a game a couple of weeks ago, but when they did the same thing, holding the Ephs to 48 points at home, it made me notice. It was Amherst’s only game of the week, but they are now on top of the conference with an important battle with Middlebury coming up.

8 – CatholicDown 2 spots
The Cardinals losing on the road to Scranton shouldn’t be too surprising, except at times it isn’t clear what Scranton team will show up on the floor. Catholic did have to come from 20 points down to within 2, but couldn’t pull off the victory. The match-up is a bit of a rivalry, so I wasn’t going to bring them down the poll too far.

9 – WhitworthDown 8 spots
Two losses probably would have resulted in a further slide down the poll if not for the number of losses by others and the fact that some of the teams below the Pirates didn’t seem like top ten teams. However, the loss to George Fox at home does give me great pause since this conference didn’t seem to be that big a challenge.

10 – St. Mary’s (Md.)Up 3 spots
I am not sure the Seahawks are a top ten team, but they have migrated up thanks to a few factors: the number of losses my others and the fact they still have only loss two games this season (both to teams on my ballot). St. Mary’s has clearly played better than many expected especially since they don’t have any significant inside presence.

11 – North Central (Ill.)Up 4 spots
The Cardinals appear to be playing better basketball than a few weeks ago when they were dealing with injuries to their top three players. I probably would have moved North Central into my top ten, except that while they beat Augustana handily on the road they couldn’t do the same to Millikin on the road. They have a major game against Illinois Wesleyan this week that could change the landscape of the CCIW.

12 – RamapoDown 3 spots
Another loss in the NJAC is not what the Roadrunners need right now before the conference tournament. The loss was to the third place teams in the conference on the road, but Ramapo needs to avoid these losses if they want to be ready for post-season play.

13 – WoosterUp 4 spots
The Scots got through rivalry week with a win in overtime against Ohio Wesleyan and an easier win over Wittenberg. Wooster is a good team that just has to focus on all games and not forget what the goal is when playing teams like Wabash.

14 – Calvinunchanged
Here is where I took a rivalry game into mind. Calvin losses a close game on the road at Hope which probably shouldn’t have been that unexpected just based on the history in this rivalry. Plus the fact, you had to figure Hope wanted revenge for the embarrassment in the first game. I still think Calvin is a good team and shouldn’t fall because of the biggest rivalry in Division III.

15 – UW-Stevens PointDown 3 spots
The Pointers went 1-0 this past week, but their move downward is because they seem to be racked with injuries. I am not sure what has gotten them to this point in the season can allow them to hold on to the end.

16 – Rhode IslandUp 2 spots

17 – Rose-HulmanUp 3 spots

18 – WilliamsDown 7 spots
The Ephs got embarrassed on their own court by a team that has now embarrassed them twice this season. Yes, it was a rivalry game, but Hope showed they could show up at home against Calvin. Williams didn’t seem to show anything. The game was delayed several days because of the blizzard, but since it was at home that is less of an excuse in my book than a team that would have been on the road. It appears the Ephs were a little overrated in previous ballots.

19 – Wheaton (Ill.)

20 – Cortland StateUp 1 spot

21 – UW-WhitewaterUp 1 spot

22 – Washington Univ.unranked
The win over Rochester told me that the Bears may have figured out whatever was wrong and are back on track – at least at home. I think Wash U. is a team to watch out for, but I still have questions on where their season is headed especially because they may have to hit the road in the NCAA tournament.

23 – MITunchanged

24 – Wesleyunchanged

25 – SUNY Old Westburyunchanged

Dropped out:

Christopher Newport#16 last week
The Captains are in a tail spin. They have lost three straight including to now 11-10 LaGrange on the road. Of course the previous two games were losses at home. I am not sure exactly what is wrong, but this is the worst time of the season to be dealing with a significant losing streak.

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 10

Sorry for the tardiness on this, but celebrating the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl title got me a little out of sync this week and then the computer I have my blog written on decided to quit working when I went to post this on Wednesday morning. Better late than never, I guess.

Once again, I had to do some real analyzing after not only the number one team lost, but when several other teams on my previous ballot took losses. (And as you will notice, I will already be changing my number one team next week.)

The one thing I have noticed and even discussed with other voters, there may be 15 or 20 teams everyone feels comfortable with, but those last five or ten spots are turning into a cluster(fill in the blank). For the most part, it seems like no one wants to step up and grab their position in the polls or in their conferences. As a result, I think voting this season may be getting harder in some ways than usual years when you really have a sense of who the best teams in the country are.

1 – WhitworthUp 1 spot
I really debated about this. The Pirates have certainly been on a tear winning every one of their games except the season opener against St. Thomas, but besides Whitman their conference schedule has been somewhat weak. They already had to use extra time to get past a pretty decent Whitman squad, but they have also been dominating teams for the most part. I am sure I will be changing this pick sooner than I would like (and now after the fact this is indeed true).

2 – St. ThomasUp 1 spot
I seriously considered putting the Tommies back into the number one place after they clearly rebounded from their lone loss pretty well. However, I had decided that St. Thomas’ loss to Concordia-Moorehead was worse than Whitworth’s loss to St. Thomas in game number one, so I didn’t feel comfortable changing that mentality a week later.

3 – WPIUp 1 spot
Being the Engineers are undefeated and had a nice victory of Springfield this past week, I could have easily decided to move WPI all the way to #1. However, I am still considering who they have played… or not played. WPI is clearly having a better season than anyone could have expected, but I may need to see a little more before I think #1 is the right place for WPI.

4 – RochesterDown 3 spots
I expected the Yellowjackets to get through the weekend unscathed, though maybe bruised, as my number one team. Of course if they had lost to Brandeis, I wouldn’t have been shocked. But to lose to an NYU team that I clearly had overrated earlier this year was not what I would have expected. Rochester did rally to get through the weekend 1 and 1, but they lost the wrong game. Considering it was their first loss of the season, on the road, and many teams below also lost, Rochester didn’t fall as much as I thought about moving them.

5 – MiddleburyUp 1 spot

6 – CatholicUp 1 spot

7 – Hampden-SydneyUp 2 spots

8 – Illinois WesleyanUp 6 spots
I was already starting to buy into the Titans, but when you beat Augustana (on the road) and Wheaton (at home) to sweep the season series from those two and remain three games ahead of North Central, I was ready to buy in further. Can the Titans get through the entire CCIW unscathed? Maybe, but the conference is too good in general for that to possibly happen. So I will continue to move IWU up the board, but won’t jump them into my top five until they get through the conference unscathed.

9 – RamapoUp 1 spot

10 – AmherstUp 3 spots
The Lord Jeffs had a very good week beating Rhode Island and two conference opponents, albeit at home. As a result, their win over Williams now becomes a bigger factor, especially since it was a blow out, so I moved them ahead of the Ephs. However, Amherst didn’t have the strongest out-of-conference schedule and lost two games as well, so I think this could be my ceiling unless they beat Williams on the road in the same manner.

11 – WilliamsDown 3 spots
I did move the Ephs down, but it had more to do with teams I moved ahead of them than the week they had. Granted they won two games on the road in the conference, but they were both close games against Bowdoin (12-9) and Colby (6-15). I know it isn’t the easiest thing to travel in the NESCAC especially from northwestern Massachusetts to anywhere in Maine (there is no such thing as a straight drive from Point A to Point B in that scenario), but if the Ephs are that good they should handle that scenario a bit better.

12 – UW-Stevens PointDown 7 spots
It wasn’t like the Pointers had it easy this week: they played on the road against Platteville and La Crosse who are both having solid seasons. What surprised me was the fact the Pointers were held to just 46 points against Platteville and then couldn’t recover a few days later against La Crosse and only scored 62. That is just the kind of week that can derail a team and makes a voter nervous. I am not sold on just how good the WIAC is this season maybe because the top of the conference isn’t as good as usual while the middle of the conference is just as tough as always.

13 – St. Mary’s (Md.)Up 2 spots

14 – CalvinUp 2 spots

15 – North Central (Ill.)Up 2 spots

16 – Christopher NewportDown 5 spots
I was confident the Captains were pretty good this year, but when you lose to a .500 team like Greensboro at home, I take pause. I still think CNU is a solid team, but I may have had them too high in my poll. (And since I voted they lost to Virginia Wesleyan at home and it wasn’t close.)

17 – WoosterDown 5 spots
The win over Denison at home was destruction; the loss on the road against Wabash was… well… embarrassing. I am not sure if the Scots were looking too far ahead to their game against Ohio Wesleyan or not, but this is the time of year where a team needs to put its foot down and not stub its toe.

18 – Rhode Islandunchanged

19 – Wheaton (Ill.)unchanged

20 – Rose-HulmanUp 3 spots
The Engineers put their foot down on the HCAC. With a very important game against underachieving Transylvania who beat them at home earlier in the year… they won on the road. Rose-Hulman now has a two game lead on the conference forcing everyone to go through Terre Haute, Indiana if they want to automatically pack their bags for the NCAA tournament.

21 – Cortland StateUp 3 spots

22 – UW-Whitewaterunranked
As I mentioned earlier, I am not sold on the top of the WIAC. I have also not been sold on the Warhawks a lot this season; they simply lost too much from last year’s national champions. But they keep winning and are now just a game back of UW-Stevens Point and may be finding their stride… for now.

23 – MITunranked
For the engineers, I mean beavers, no I mean Engineers (plenty of them in my Top 25), they still don’t have Jamie Karraker or Noel Hollingsworth back and may never get them back, but they are still winning. There are three seniors in double-figures including Mitchell Kates and Will Tashman who are scoring 15+ points a game and some of the underclassmen are stepping up. Only one of their four losses is a bad one (Salem State) and they have won five straight. Maybe MIT has found a way to win this season despite the challenges they have faced.

24 – WesleyDown 4 spots
I knew that trying to sweep St. Mary’s, especially with the second game being on the road, would be a tall task. So, I really wasn’t going to eliminate them from my ballot and they only moved this far down because I was moving other teams in that I think might still be better despite the fact the Wolverines have still won 12 of the last 13 (as of my voting).

25 – SUNY-Old Westburyunranked
In a constant search for who are the best 25 teams, I am taking another stab at a team that maybe isn’t getting enough attention. I don’t have the space to explain the season the Panthers have had simply from Superstorm Sandy and the aftermath. But consider that Old Westbury played their first 13 games of the season on the road, had to travel by van to every practice for the first several months at a gym off campus, and they didn’t even have their own locker rooms during that time. Still, the Panthers are undefeated in their conference and while games have been close recently it is probably because the Panthers aren’t used to playing in their own gym!

Dropped out this week:

DeSales21st last week
I will be the first to admit, I made a mistake here. Shortly after I placed DeSales in my ballot and stated they were one team flying lowest on the radar, they lost two games in conference including a pivotal game with Delaware Valley before falling asleep against Misericordia.

Transylvania22nd last week
The Pioneers did it to me again. I bought in and put them back in my Top 25 only to see them lose to Rose-Hulman, at home no less. I just can’t figure out the Pioneers who didn’t lose any of their starting offense from last year’s squad, but clearly lost something from the seniors who left even if it wasn’t on the court.

Alvernia25th last week
You can almost copy my comments about DeSales into this section: they lost a pivotal game against conference and Reading, PA rival Albright. They didn’t lose two games, but when you are on the very bottom of the ballot, any slip can cost you.

Dave’s Top 25 ballot: Week 8

With Monday’s loss by St. Thomas, is the University of Rochester next in line to be No. 1?
Rochester athletics photo

This week, voting in the Top 25 was relatively easy especially when compared to last week’s overhaul that proved more challenging – though enlightening – than expected. You aren’t going to see a lot of changes this week. In fact, the first 12 positions in my poll didn’t move. I did have to deal with questions about close wins and surprising losses, but it was a handful of teams this time, not the entire ballot. So, here we go:

1 – St. Thomasunchanged

2 – Rochester unchanged

3 – Whitworthunchanged

4 – WPIunchanged

5 – Middleburyunchanged

6 – UW-Stevens Pointunchanged

7 – North Central (Ill.)unchanged

8 – Williamsunchanged

9 – Catholicunchanged

10 – Ramapounchanged

11 – Christopher Newportunchanged

12 – Hampden-Sydneyunchanged

13 – WoosterUP 5 spots
Very good week for the Scots who put their foot down on the NCAC. A win over Ohio Wesleyan on the road helped give the Battling Bishops their second straight loss and give Wooster a two-game lead in the conference.

14 – Stevensunchanged

15 – Amherstunchanged
The Lord Jeffs did win three games this week, which would normally have me move them up. But first, there isn’t much room for moving upward and second, they only faced one team with a winning record and all three of the games were at home.

16 – St. Mary’s (Md.)UP 1 spot

17 – CalvinUP 4 spots
When you lay the wood to your rival Hope in one of the biggest rivalries in college sports, people take notice. Hope is clearly having a tough season (which featured another loss this week to Olivet), but the fact Calvin manhandled them in a game where a winless team would probably still make it interesting is rather telling. Calvin now has a two-game lead in the MIAA.

18 – Illinois WesleyanUP 4 spots
The Titans didn’t exactly beat anyone stellar in conference play this week, but they won both games on the road in a conference that has already shown that the top teams can lose to those struggling below .500. Big test coming up… North Central at home.

19 – Albertus Magnusunchanged

20 – Brandeisunranked
The Judges made a statement this weekend beating Chicago and then Wash U on the road. Brandeis has only two losses at the hands of Rhode Island College in the first game of the season and Amherst at the beginning of December. Seven straight wins has them tied on top of the UAA with Rochester who they will face at home on Sunday.

21 – GuilfordDOWN 5 spots
The ODAC is probably tougher this year than in years past with nine of the twelve teams with winning records and eight teams within four games of the top of the conference. Guilford got a win over Randolph midweek, which kept them from falling out of the poll with their loss to Washington & Lee, albeit on the road. And the road doesn’t get easier. They have Lynchburg at home and then on the road at Hampden-Sydney this week. Let’s see if they stay on my ballot.

22 – Virginia Wesleyanunranked
The Marlins do lead the ODAC with a perfect 8-0 and have won five straight. However, the four-game slide at the end of December and barely able to get by Roanoke (who seemed to have the game in hand) are signs that maybe this Marlin team is lucky to be 8-0 in the conference. They are on top of the ODAC recordwise, but I am not convinced they have figured things out.

23 – Wesleyunranked
Really can’t keep the Wolverines off my ballot any more. 10 straight wins including St. Mary’s and Salisbury in the last two show this team is playing very good basketball right now. Wesley has wins over Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Wesleyan as well this season and nearly got past Christopher Newport back in November (lost in triple overtime). The Wolverines have a rematch with St. Mary’s on Saturday that will determine who is in control of the CAC heading into February.

24 – Rhode Islandunchanged
The Anchormen didn’t exactly impress this week. In fact I thought about dropping them when considering they beat Mass-Dartmouth and Plymouth State – a combined 5-26 – by a total of nine points. The games were on the road and New England is probably distracted with the Patriots this week, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. A battle for the top of the LEC looms Saturday with Eastern Connecticut on the road – if Rhode Island doesn’t forget they play Western Connecticut first.

25 – Rose-Hulmanunchanged
The Engineers didn’t do anything to impress me this week, either. They beat Franklin (who is 11-6 and has a win over Illinois Wesleyan on their resume) easily, but then struggled at home against 7-10 Bluffton. So, I thought about moving Rose-Hulman off my ballot until I remembered they still only have two losses. Who would I have replaced them with? Transylvania who beat Rose-Hulman last week – so the reason would have been good.

Dropped out this week:

Ohio Wesleyan13th last week
Yeah, this might be harsh, but I wouldn’t have removed them from my Top 25 with just their loss to Wooster. Their lost to Hiram by 13 on the road midweek on the other hand made the loss to Wooster at home just the cherry on top. I like the Battling Bishops but they shoot horribly from the free-throw line and they have games like Hiram, Allegheny and others that have me shaking my head.

Washington Univ.20th last week
A trusted friend in the Midwest Region things the Bears are a Top 25 team and I agree with him, until they lose at home to Brandeis. Sure, on paper that shouldn’t be a surprised since Brandeis is clearly playing well. Except it was at home where Wash U. hadn’t lost all season and this is the Bears third loss in the UAA. Furthermore, Wash U is now 2-2 in the last four games. I watched the game against Brandeis and nothing impressed me. Something doesn’t seem to be working right now in St. Louis. Here is hoping they turn it around fast before they lose any chance of making the NCAA tournament.