SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth is ranked No. 1 in the latest D3hoops.com top 25 men’s basketball poll.
The Pirates accomplish many firsts with the poll starting with this being the first time any Whitworth team has been ranked No. 1 during the regular season in any sport. It is also the first time any school from the state of Washington has been ranked No. 1 in any men’s NCAA basketball regular-season poll and it is the first time any school west of St. Paul, Minn., has been listed atop the D3hoops.com men’s basketball rating.
The Pirates picked up 19 out of a possible 25 first-place votes in the poll and have 616 total points. Williams is ranked second and Amherst is third, despite the fact that Amherst is the only other unbeaten men’s team besides Whitworth in NCAA Division III. Amherst also defeated Williams in the squads’ first match-up this season.
“We are happy that a great school and a great bunch of guys can be recognized in this manner,” said Whitworth head coach Jim Hayford. “I told the guys three things — one, we want to be number one in the nation at the end of the season. Two, it is nice when you are recognized like this so enjoy it. Most hard work goes unnoticed but you still keep doing it. This is something you can hold for the rest of your lives. Three, this means we will take an even better shot from all of our opponents as they would love to be the team that knocked off No. 1. So stay focused.”
Whitworth is 21-0 overall and 12-0 in the Northwest Conference. The Pirates are riding the best start in school history and the progrmam’s second-longest winning streak ever behind only the 25-game streak set during the 2009-10 season.
Whitworth had been ranked second in each of the two previous polls, but room was made at the top after previously top-ranked Wooster fell at home to Wabash in overtime on Saturday.
Whitworth will put its No. 1 ranking to the test for the first time on Friday when the Pirates host Willamette in a game that will be televised regionally. The Bucs will host George Fox on Saturday in the final regular-season home contest on the schedule.
The University of Puget Sound won the 1976 NCAA Division II championship, but there were no regular season basketball polls for Division II or Division III at that time. The highest regular-season rating for any other NCAA schools in the state were No. 2 by: Washington in 1953, Gonzaga in the last regular-season poll of 2004 and Western Washington (Division II) in 2006.