March 9, 2023: Breaking news this morning

Within the last hour, we’ve had three breaking news reports come out in the D3 world, all of which are related to women’s basketball in some way or another. So I thought I’d put out something on all of this news, in addition to my look at the Sweet 16, which should be out this evening (and probably hit your inbox tomorrow morning).

This first one is combined because, well, the move itself is combined. Both Trinity (TX) and Southwestern are on the move, announcing they will join the Southern Athletic Association by the fall of 2025. This move was reported over a month ago by D3VBWest, a Region 10 volleyball website, but we were unsure when that move would be announced, and how committed both universities were to moving all sports to a league based heavily in the southeast U.S. and headquartered in Atlanta.

Apparently, this move was closer than many of us expected, and with Southwestern moving its football program from ASC affiliation to SAA affiliation next year, neither school’s football program will see any changes made. The other sports will now be playing Rhodes, Berry, Centre in others, replacing short treks to north Texas and Louisiana with regular season road trips involving flights and such.

My first reaction is what the SCAC is losing. will probably cover the football aspect of this extensively in a story, and I know I’m a WBB blog. But football often drives conference realignment (especially when it comes to Texas) and with all the question marks surrounding the ASC (with the league dropping to four teams by 2026 if there are no new additions), the SCAC now has only six football schools as well. As a reminder, the min. number of teams for an AQ is 6, so both the SCAC and ASC are on thin ice right now. With Southwestern and Trinity gone, the SCAC is in danger of losing its AQ before it even restarts football if another school in the league leaves or drops its football program for whatever the reason.

How does it relate to WBB? Trinity will be the top team in their league in the SAA, just as they were in the SCAC. But the basement of the SAA in WBB isn’t as deep as the SCAC’s is. Scott Peterson, the D3 WBB numbers guru, quickly ran a few calculations. If you replace all of Trinity’s SCAC games this year with SAA games (sam number of conference games too), the Tigers’ SOS goes from .522 to .579. Southwestern would likely see a similar jump in SOS, though the competition level is also a bit higher in the SAA. There are no juggernaut programs in the SAA currently, but Rhodes, Centre, and others have frequently been competitive within Region 6.

The SCAC, meanwhile, has lost its “top dog” in terms of WBB. Colorado College probably fills that void and is a program on the rise, but the SCAC will become a more-wide open league without Trinity.

Full release from Trinity (Southwestern has not put anything out publicly in regards to this move):

The third piece of breaking news that came out a little while ago was that Justin Heinzen will be stepping down as Loras’ head coach after 15 seasons at the helm. Dave McHugh of Hoopsville was the first to report that coaching change. Loras was nationally prominent this past season and hosted a first weekend pod a few days ago that included Trine and WashU.

But according to McHugh’s tweet, Heinzen was operating without an assistant for much of the year, and has decided to take a break from coaching. Personally, he has been a huge supporter of my coverage of D3 WBB and I greatly appreciate that. I enjoyed watching Loras play numerous times this season, and wish him the best of luck in the future. Coaching at the D3 level is not easy, and doing it without an assistant makes the job that much more difficult.

Heinzen has Loras in a good spot within the ARC right now, and I expect the Duhawks will remain competitive in the years to come with the foundation he has built.

As always, if you have tips/thoughts/feedback/questions, shoot me an email at or a DM on Twitter (@ZayasRiley). Always happy to respond and talk about D3 WBB and D3 sports as a whole. Have a great day. More to come on tomorrow’s games!


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: My Top 25 ballot…with context

January 10, 2023

By Riley Zayas, @ZayasRiley

Back with another ballot breakdown…this time for Week 6 after a wild week in D3 women’s hoops! Here is how I’m seeing the Top 25 right now…

Trinity (TX): I went back on forth with whether to keep the Tigers #1 or put NYU back in the top spot, but at the end of the day, Trinity’s resume remains stronger at this point in my opinion, with four Massey Top 70 wins compared to just two for NYU. Not to mention, the experience and depth Trinity has continues to make them a very dangerous matchup for any opponent.

NYU: The Violets are still very close to Trinity in a lot of ways, and there’s not a clear No. 1 at this point. Still, Trinity has more quality wins based on Massey’s ratings, and just going on the eye test, I think the Tigers are the better team right now. Will they be next week? Who knows…but right now, that’s how I’m seeing it. NYU has looked good in its key games against Bowdoin and Tufts and there is a very likely chance the Violets will stay No. 1 in the poll this week.

Christopher Newport: I’m sure you’ll be able to find video of this somewhere (or even just on demand on the W&L website), but CNU’s game against W&L yesterday went into double OT with the Captains winning 104-102. But after the first OT it seemed the game was all but over, as CNU went up 93-91 in the final seconds, but a technical foul AFTER the final buzzer against the CNU bench kept W&L alive. Hanna Malik hit back-to-back free throws with no time on the clock, sending it into a second OT. It was one of the more thrilling finishes of the weekend, no doubt. That said, W&L did expose some areas, and because W&L was careful with the ball, it limited CNU’s opportunities to generate turnovers. That will be something to keep an eye on moving forwards.

Transylvania: The defense continues to reign supreme for the Pioneers, who held Defiance to just 40 points on Saturday. Transy has allowed 50 points or more in just two of its 14 games this season. That’s enough for me to slide them up two spots.

Hope: Hope looked good on the road against Olivet and Alma, though neither opponent has more than four wins this season. The Flying Dutch are 13-1, on a four-game win streak, and though Carlee Crabtree is no longer on the roster, freshman Sydney Vis has really stepped up, with 11 points against Olivet. Karsen Karlblom is another freshman who has seen some more minutes as of late.

Scranton: The Lady Royals continue to impress me under the leadership of new head coach Ben O’Brien, winning by 10 on the road at Catholic, who is 10-3, on Saturday. Though Scranton hasn’t played the toughest schedule out there, the Lady Royals have risen to the challenge every time they’ve been faced with a top-quality opponent (ex. Ithaca, Catholic, Wartburg).

Smith: Springfield might not be in its top form right now, having lost two of its last three, but still, for Smith to win against Springfield by 14 on Saturday is an impressive result to me. Watching that one live, I liked how well Smith attacked the boards with 11 offensive rebounds. This is a team that seems to have made great strides over the course of the year, starting out with some unconvincing wins but is playing at a high level right now, on a six-game win streak.

Baldwin-Wallace: BW drops down in my ballot a little bit, after narrowly surviving an overtime upset bid from Mount Union earlier in the week. The Yellowjackets are still 13-0, and have some notable victories, but have now been taken down to the wire twice in the last two weeks against Hamilton and Mount Union. This is a clear Top 10 team, and the margin between Smith and BW seems very thin.

DeSales: DeSales is another undefeated team in my top 10, at 13-0, though I haven’t seen them challenged much yet, which makes it hard to rank them. Their last two results have been 82-18 and 72-30. Talk about playing in one-sided games…

UW-Whitewater: To go to UW-Eau Claire and win with points to spare is very impressive to me, considering the Warhawks barely beat UW-Stevens Point this past Wednesday at home. Having a positive mentality on the road is so key, as Whitewater has now won at UC Santa Cruz and UW-Eau Claire in two quality victories. The defense from UWW was very good against the WIAC’s top shooting team, and puts them back in my top 10.

UW-Eau Claire: Whitewater is now the higher-ranked of the two WIAC teams in my ballot, but not by much. UWEC and UWW have very similar resumes now, though UWEC’s loss on Saturday doesn’t drop the Blugolds a whole lot in my ranking. Keep in mind they still have wins over Trine, Wartburg and UW-La Crosse.

Trine: The Thunder took care of business against St. Mary’s this past week, in a dominant 86-52 win. Their resume remains solid, highlighted by the victory at Hope last month, and I now have three three-loss teams in a row.

Rochester: I really like the 75-66 win at Emory, which came on Saturday. We saw how tough it was to play in Atlanta after Tufts fell to the Eagles by 15 a month ago, and Rochester is now 11-1 after winning there. Katie Titus is on pace to become the nation’s leading scorer, with another 20-plus point performance (26).

Babson: Babson gets bumped up three spots in my ballot after finding a way to down Tufts in a wild finish on the road Sunday. It was quite a game, and came down to the final shot, as the Beavers are now 11-1, having responded well to the Loras loss a couple weeks ago. The 60-51 win on Dec. 30 over Middlebury looks pretty good now after Middlebury beat Amherst on Saturday.

Chicago: WashU, despite battling some injuries, shocked Chicago in St. Louis on Saturday with perhaps the upset of the day. It is the Maroons’ first loss of the year, and I’m only dropping them three spots, despite falling to an unranked opponent (I’m confident there will be voters dropping them five or six spots). Had they played a tougher non-conference slate, the slide may not have been as great as it likely will be, but they also have a big-time win over Whitewater, that remains their only Massey Top 50 victory.

Trinity (CT): I should’ve ranked Trinity last week…there’s no other way to say it. The Bantams were #26 for me last week, but have now jumped into the middle of my ballot. At 13-1, Trinity is one of just two NESCAC teams who are 2-0 in conference play, having edged Bowdoin in a Top 25 matchup on Saturday, 49-43, in an incredible defensive effort.

Puget Sound: PS drops one spot, after struggling majorly in the first half against Willamette, but it was more due to Trinity’s big win over Bowdoin than anything the Loggers did. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from PS throughout the last four weeks or so, and have been impressed by the offensive depth on the roster, with several players who can easily go for 15 or 20 points on any given night.

Ohio Northern: ONU is 12-1, and hasn’t lost since Nov. 22. But it’s not all about just the results. Those are a factor, but not the only factor. Watching ONU live, I really like the grit on the defensive end seen from the Polar Bears. An overtime win over Otterbein was closer than I’d anticipated earlier this week. Once again, it is really hard to win on the road.

UW-Oshkosh: The Titans are another team that goes from unranked to in my Top 20. That’s what happens when you have the amount of parity we have in the division this season, and that’s a good problem for voters to have! Oshkosh has six Top 70 Massey wins right now, a statement only two other programs (UW-Eau Claire and Loras) can make. With a young roster, the Titans started out with a few tough defeats, but have weathered the storm and emerged on the other side, as much in the WIAC title race as anyone.

Hardin-Simmons: The Cowgirls took down McMurry this weekend in a crosstown showdown between the only two schools in the ASC located in the same city. HSU’s offense has been solid throughout its non-conference schedule and into ASC play, at 75.6 PPG and 44.6% shooting from the field (both No. 1 in the ASC). They still have the two losses to Trinity, but have won all the rest. They embark on a five-game road trip over the next three weeks, which will certainly test them.

Loras: After jumping into the Top 20 after being unranked for the entire year last week, the Duhawks dropped their next game to Luther, in a surprising upset. Again, it’s tough to win on the road, no matter who you are. Loras has a super impressive resume, and that game was one of the only times I’ve seen the Duhawks play poorly. They fell back just two spots, and it was more because of Oshkosh moving into my ballot than anything else.

Mary Hardin-Baylor: Another road test…another close result. That’s becoming the theme as I write this ballot breakdown. The Cru trailed by three at UT-Dallas on Saturday with three minutes left, but went on a 7-0 run to close it out, winning 53-49. The defensive effort was top-notch and though they did not score much, UMHB is improving as a collective unit coming off those two losses in San Antonio just before Christmas. We may look back and see that as the turning point of the year come March.

Millikin: Millkin was a team I voted for Week 1 and like Oshkosh, quickly fell out of my ballot. But the Big Blue is back in. Bailey Coffman has recovered from her jaw injury and is contributing off the bench at this point, scoring in double figures despite limited minutes as she works back into the rotation. Coffman, along with Elyse Knudsen, form a 1-2 punch that could end up winning Millikin the CCIW title. Millikin is 11-3, 3-0 in CCIW play at this point. The rough start is far in the rearview mirror for Olivia Lett’s squad.

Gustavus Adolphus: Losing to Bethel, 70-66, hurts the Gusties a fair amount in my ballot, especially as other teams continue to add quality wins. But Gusty is my favorite to win the MIAC title, and somewhat of a dark horse in my opinion. They don’t have any “earth-shattering” victories, but no bad losses either.

UW-La Crosse: This final spot came down to two WIAC programs with very similar resumes: UWL or UW-Stout. At the end of the day, I’m taking UWL, a program that has won its last five. Watching them play, the Eagles can win a bunch of different ways, which is very valuable in a team; they played fast at Chapman and won 74-48, this past Saturday, a defensive battle played out at Stevens Point, and they won 47-45. The defense is very good too, as the only WIAC team with over 100 blocked shots this season and the only team in the league allowing under 50 points per game (49.6).

Going beyond the ballot…here’s who my next five would be




UC Santa Cruz


Bottom line:

-Trinity (TX) stays No. 1 for the third straight week (second with an official ballot)

-Newcomers are: Millikin, UW-Oshkosh, Trinity (CT), UW-La Crosse

-Dropped out: Springfield, UC Santa Cruz, Amherst, Tufts

-Trinity (CT) makes the biggest jump, going from unranked to #16

-Oshkosh also goes from unranked to #19

-Whitewater has reentered the Top 10


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: My Week 5 Top 25 ballot…with context

January 4, 2023

By Riley Zayas

Publishing this on this Wednesday morning, as we turned in our ballots yesterday afternoon, but here is my Top 25 ballot for as I accounted for all the results over the past week (and there were a lot of them!). I ranked out to #30, and will have thoughts on the new Top 25 soon. Hope the new year is treating you well!

  1. Trinity (TX): The Tigers are 13-0 having picked up a solid SCAC win over Colorado College on Monday afternoon, aided by 19 points off the bench from Maggie Shipley. Shipley’s presence, following an injury that kept her out for nearly a month, will help the Tigers tremendously through conference play. Interestingly, the Tigers are seventh in Massey ratings, but having watched them play multiple times, this is a team on a national title quest. They are experienced, deep, and have plenty of shooters, which spreads the opposing defense out, creating three-point shots on a number of possessions.
  2. NYU: That said, NYU is a very close second. And with a strong back half of the regular season schedule, including a matchup at Chicago on Jan. 13, the Violets will have plenty of chances to improve an already strong resume over the next two months. Bowdoin gave NYU all it could handle this past Friday, but credit to NYU for pulling it out late. The 78-75 win was in part due to an impressive 49.2% mark from the field.
  3. Christopher Newport: The Captains are playing phenomenal basketball, and amongst the nation’s best this year, I feel the margin is extremely thin. CNU looked good in both games in Puerto Rico before Christmas against Cortland and Colorado College, and returned to the States with a 33-point win over Rowan. Washington & Lee (8-3 overall) is CNU’s next big test, in a game set for Jan. 8.
  4. Hope: I value Carnegie Mellon as a fairly competitive opponent on the national scale, and the way Hope played in an 85-66 win over CMU on Dec. 29 was pretty impressive. The Flying Dutch got to the free throw line and forced turnovers, along with hitting 12 three-pointers (41.4% from beyond the arc), which seemed to be the keys in that victory. For a program like Hope, the loss to Trine back on Dec. 19 could be the spark that propels them to another Final Four. We saw it happen a year ago…
  5. Transylvania: Transylvania is 12-0, rolling through its schedule, and added wins over Wisconsin Lutheran and Berea at home on the final weekend of 2022. Both were quality opponents, but the experience and defense of the Pioneers continues to reign supreme. It has been a major element in their victories this season, as they have allowed above 50 points just twice, which is incredibly impressive.
  6. Baldwin Wallace: BW was challenged by a good Hamilton team at home, and actually entered the fourth quarter trailing by a point. The Yellow Jackets remain undefeated and have the big win over Trine, which has boosted their resume in a big way. The victory over Marietta back on Dec. 10 also helps. Late-game execution is certainly a strength of this team. Watching the overtime against Trine and seeing how they handled the fourth quarter against Hamilton were really indicative of the sort of poise and ability to perform under pressure that will serve BW well come tournament time.
  7. Scranton:12-0 this season, I was really interested to see how Scranton would handle its matchup against Tufts on Dec. 30, quite possibly their biggest test since battling Ithaca on Nov. 29. Coming away with a 68-59 win solidifies the Lady Royals’ spot at #7, which is where I had them in my Week 4 2.0 Top 25 a week ago. They’ll get another great matchup at Catholic, who is 10-2, this Saturday.
  8. UW-Eau Claire: Similar to Scranton, UWEC had a huge test over the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s, traveling to Trine for a Top 15 contest. The Blugolds came away with a 75-68 victory, overcoming an eight-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to take a 36-29 lead at the half. Their performance in the second and third quarters were the reason they came away with the win, and the experience on this roster continues to give UWEC an advantage. Led by Jessie Ruden, there are five seniors on the roster. UWEC also beat DePauw by 14 a day after taking down Trine.
  9. DeSales: DeSales also broke into my Top 10 with a 12-0 record, and held the distinction for the largest margin of victory over this past week, defeating CCNY 82-18. A 70-53 win over a solid St. Joe’s (CT) team improves their resume in my opinion. I still worry about the lack of quality opponents, but the Bulldogs are due to travel to Stevens on Jan. 18 in what will probably decide the top spot in the MACF.
  10. Smith: Though I was initially weary of voting Smith high (and to some extent I still am) the win over Trinity (CT) is looking better and better, since it was on the road, and Trinity took down another Top 25 opponent in Springfield this past week. Before that win, Smith beat Bowdoin 59-54, who nearly took down NYU on the road a week ago. The Pioneers do not lack quality opponents, and should do very well on the regional rankings because of that. At 10-1, they’ll get another test in Saturday’s game against Springfield (10-2 overall), and will also face Hamilton, Tufts, and Babson before the regular season is over.
  11. UW-Whitewater: Whitewater has slid up due to some losses ahead of them, but the Warhawks also beat UC Santa Cruz on the road, which I consider to be a high-quality victory, especially having come just before Christmas. A 17-point win over a Bethel team that is 5-1 in the MIAC on Dec. 30 only adds to an extremely strong resume for the defending WIAC champions. I’ll be very interested to see how Saturday’s duel with UW-Eau Claire goes (on a side note…I’m mentioning Saturday a lot…might want to clear out some time in your day for D3 hoops…the slate will be stacked!).
  12. Chicago: Ah, yes. The great challenge of Whitewater and Chicago. They look pretty similar when you dive into the numbers, and have similar resumes. I still feel like Whitewater is the better team out of these two, but the results do not lie. I venture to guess this is the final week (for now) I’ll have to decide between putting Whitewater ahead of Chicago or vice versa. Chicago plays WashU in a key UAA matchup on Saturday. WashU has been unpredictable as of late. Chicago is looking to move to 12-0 in that contest.
  13. Trine: Losing to UWEC drops Trine back from #9 to #13, and it was a respectable loss, but still a loss. Honestly, I feel like Whitewater, Chicago, and Trine are very close right now. Any order would certainly be explainable at this point. Trine is strong, and actually outrebounded UWEC by 10 in the game last week. The Thunder really rely on the post play, and do it well.
  14. Amherst: Amherst was #6 entering the week for me, but a pair of losses on the West Coast drops the Mammoths back by eight spots in my ballot. That said, Chapman and Concordia-Moorhead are both good teams, and playing unique styles coming off a holiday break is not easy, so I did not think dropping Amherst below the Top 15 was warranted. We will see how NESCAC play progresses for the Mammoths, who will need to rebound well to stay in the Pool C conversation.
  15. Rochester: Admittedly, Rochester might be too high on my ballot, but there have been times when this squad has shown plenty of potential for a deep tournament run. Katie Titus is certainly in the All-American conversation by this point, averaging 20.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. No new results for Rochester in this voting period, as the Yellowjackets haven’t played since Dec. 13.
  16. Puget Sound: As I said last week, going to San Antonio and taking down Mary Hardin-Baylor before giving Trinity (TX) a really strong run rises Puget Sound’s stock in my ballot. This is a team that runs a full-court press and can make things happen in transition. If the Loggers find a way to limit the number of times the opponent breaks the press and ends up with an easy layup on the offensive end, this is a team that we will be talking about come Selection Monday.
  17. Babson: The loss to Loras down in Florida dropped Babson quite a bit in my ballot, and though the Beavers have since rebounded with wins over Hanover and Middlebury (neither of which were dominant victories by any means), I haven’t seen reason to put Babson ahead of Rochester or Puget Sound for the time being. But they’ll have plenty of great opportunities in the NEWMAC, and could end up in the Top 15 once again in the span of just a week or two.
  18. Loras: Loras was #25 in my Top 25 a week ago, and jumps up to #18 after two outstanding wins over Calvin and UW-Stevens Point. Loras is putting together an incredible resume, with victories over Coe, UW-Eau Claire, Babson, and now, Calvin and UWSP. It’s hard to think UW-Platteville and Augustana beat them earlier in the year. Sami Martin is a tremendous forward, and has been one of the better forwards I’ve seen play this season.
  19. Gustavus Adolphus: Here’s the thing with the Gusties. If UW-Stout ends up faltering in WIAC play, their resume could take a hit. Still, Gusty passes the eye test for me, shoots the ball with confidence, and right now, has five players averaging eight points or more. The victory over St. Benedict still looks really good, as they won that one by 17, and Bethel is next on the schedule tomorrow. Bethel is a solid program that seems to be clicking at the right time, despite a 5-4 overall record.
  20. Mary Hardin-Baylor: UMHB looked out of sorts against Trinity and Puget Sound prior to Christmas, but back on their home floor, the Crusaders were exceptional against both Piedmont and UC Santa Cruz. It was the latter of those two wins that caused me to move them up from #23 to #20. The second half performance against UCSC was key in the Cru’s Top 25 win, and the way UMHB has been executing defensively as of late has been vastly different from what we saw a couple weeks back.
  21. Springfield: Springfield fell to a Trinity (CT) that will quite possibly make its way into my ballot next week or the week after, with the way the Bantams have been playing. But for Springfield, the 58-45 loss on Dec. 30 hurts because outside of beating Williams and Middlebury, Springfield does not have another Top 100 Massey win. That concerns me a bit, as I have liked what I’ve seen watching Springfield live, but they’ve been unable to emerge victorious in their two biggest games thus far, against Amherst and Trinity. The Jan. 7 game at Smith will be key for their ranking and tournament resume.
  22. Hardin-Simmons: HSU is another solid team with experienced talent, but has not put up any outstanding wins from my perspective. Again, that is just one element of things, but it is hard to rave about a team who has just one victory over a team with nine or more wins at this point (ETBU). That said, I still think HSU is a top contender for the ASC title along with UMHB and ETBU, and as result, certainly deserves a Top 25 ranking. The Cowgirls played well against Adrian and SUNY Geneseo in Puerto Rico on Dec. 29-30, which was a cool experience for the team I’m sure, despite some schedule adjustments with the travel craziness we all witnessed across the nation a week ago.
  23. Ohio Northern: ONU is 10-1, and I’m convinced Ohio Wesleyan caught the Polar Bears on a bad day, because besides that performance, ONU has been unstoppable. Two wins over sub-.500 teams got them to 10 wins last week, and OAC play resumes against Otterbein and John Carroll on the road in the week ahead.
  24. UC Santa Cruz: UCSC took a pair of rough losses in Texas (though today’s loss to ETBU doesn’t count towards our voting), and has now dropped three straight. Chances are, UCSC needs to win the C2C Tournament now in order to get into the NCAA Tournament. But regardless, this is a talented squad, with some of the best inside-outside presence in the nation, in my opinion. Tess Oakley-Stilson, Aubrey Wagner, Amanda Inserra, Ashley Kowack, and Kaylee Murphy can play with the best, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before we see them pull off a big-time win.
  25. Tufts: Tufts takes the coveted No. 25 spot in my ballot, and it was a hard decision, since Trinity (CT), Millikin, Bowdoin, and several others were in strong consideration for my ballot. But I need to see Tufts play against Babson on Saturday before determining whether I should drop Tufts out completely. The Jumbos are led by one of the nation’s most prolific scorers in Maggie Russell, and I believe as much in contention for the NESCAC title as anyone at this point. The wins at WPI and Stevens remain their most impressive victories.
  26. Trinity (CT)
  27. Bowdoin
  28. Ithaca
  29. Millikin
  30. UW-La Crosse

The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: Loras pulls off the upset, Top 25 showdowns go down to the wire

December 21, 2022

Welcome back! Pretty exciting day in D3 women’s hoops yesterday, with games from mid-morning until late in the evening. And there were several that you couldn’t help but be on the edge of your seat as you watched the final quarter unfold. Here are a few of my thoughts from watching yesterday’s action, along with a big-time game to be looking ahead to today…

  • All these holiday tournaments make for some very early tip-off times, such as TCNJ’s battle in Puerto Rico with Susquehanna yesterday morning that began at 9 a.m. here in the central time zone. It was a nice win for TCNJ, who I think could be a viable contender in the NJAC, especially with NJ City struggling quite a bit at this point.
  • A game that I thought might have had the chance to turn out close between Loras and #9 Babson turned out to be nothing of the sort. Instead, Loras ran away with it, taking down a previously undefeated Babson team, 73-52. Loras has been on my watch list for a couple weeks now, and if you remember, this is not the first time the DuHawks have come up with a big win. They also took down UW-Eau Claire two weeks ago, which remains UWEC’s only loss of the season. Loras seems to have the right mix of guards and forwards who each contribute on both ends of the floor. Both Sami Martin and Silvana Scarsella had 20+ points in yesterday’s win. With that win, I’d think Loras has to enter the Top 25 conversation.
  • The first matchup involving two Top 25 teams came in #20 Puget Sound’s 59-58 win over #16 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Played on a neutral court, this had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game, and was back-and-forth in nature the whole way. UMHB led 59-58 with under 20 seconds to go, but PS inbounded the ball, dribbled around, and eventually found Grace Pytynia-Hillier, who drove to the free-throw line, and put up the game-winning shot with a tenth of a second left on the clock. Her shot won the game for PS, while UMHB lost its second straight. Regardless of the outcome in today’s game for PS against Trinity, this was a big-time resume-building win for the NWC title favorite.
  • The second matchup came on the west coast, as #18 UC Santa Cruz hosted #21 UW-Whitewater. There was a lot on the line for both teams, as I mentioned in yesterday’s write-up, and both teams played like it, with Whitewater pulling out a 61-60 victory. I thought a few too many fouls were called on plays that were borderline questionable, but hey, what do I know? Whitewater erased a two-point deficit and took a two-point lead in the span of less than 30 seconds, as Yssa Sto. Domingo came up with all four points. UCSC did a good job on the offensive end to get back into it after falling behind early, and shot 6-of-11 from 3-point range in the game. But down the stretch, with All-American Kaylee Murphy having fouled out for UCSC, Whitewater found a way to score at the right times.
  • Wartburg bounced back from a really rough showing against Scranton Monday and battled #10 Trine extremely well in Florida. But Trine emerged with a 60-56 win, keeping its win streak, now at six games, alive. Defining stat in this one was the rebounding totals: Trine outrebounded Wartburg 44-29, which is a huge margin for a four-point game. A few more offensive boards, and Wartburg could’ve been in a different position. What I will say though is that Wartburg gave up 13 offensive rebounds, but Trine scored just six points on those. Not a bad defensive showing. Still trying to figure out where Trine stacks up with the Top 15 or so in the nation.
  • Cortland beat Dickinson in what could actually be a win over a regionally-ranked opponent for Cortland, depending on how things shake out once regional rankings are released in February. Dickinson is a solid team, 4-1 right now in the Centennial Conference, but Cortland is also playing very well, at 9-2. The 63-54 win saw Cortland shoot 47% from 3-point range, and they held off an 18-9 run from Dickinson to close the game. Cortland is certainly in the national conversation, with its only losses coming to Ithaca and CNU, along with notable wins over Hamilton and SUNY Geneseo.
  • Key game today: #20 Puget Sound at #3 Trinity, 4 pm EST: This is a big one, and undoubtedly a result we will still be talking about come Selection Monday in March. PS has momentum after beating UMHB less than 24 hours ago on that game-winner, while Trinity has had a day to prepare and rest, not to mention playing on its home court. Both teams run a full-court press, so this will either be a game in which multiple players go for 20+ points, or a game where we see both sides turn the ball over about 20 times. It’s really a 50-50, and I think whoever executes better defensively comes out with the win. Massey matchup tool has Trinity winning 72-70…you don’t want to miss this one! Brian Yancelson has the call (and does a great job) on Trinity’s Tiger Network:

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.