We're just about ready to enter the second month of the 2019-20 DII men's basketball season. The top teams from our preseason 25 are starting to establish themselves as the best of the best.
At least for now.
Welcome to the first DII men's basketball Power 10, well, ever. Each week, I'll rank what I think are the top 10 teams in DII men's basketball. I used a set of criteria that consists of — but not limited to — ranked teams beaten, winning teams beaten and average margin of victory against DII opponents, just to name a few. I also based the first Power 10 off my preseason rankings, which already look quite different just three weeks into the season. Here, take a look:
DII men's basketball Power 10: Nov. 25
(Note: All records and stats through games played Sunday, Nov. 24.)
No. 1 Northwest Missouri State | 6-0
The Bearcats entered the season No. 1 in my preseason rankings and have shown little problem justifying that selection. You have to go back to March 10, 2018, for the Bearcats last loss as they are now winners of 44 in a row. And they aren't simply winning: Northwest Missouri State has beaten two nationally-ranked teams and five teams with winning records at an average margin of victory of 31 points.
WIN STREAK TRACKER: Follow Northwest Missouri State's run at history
No. 2 Bellarmine | 4-0
There was little that separated Bellarmine and Nova Southeastern as the two are both very formidable teams. I stuck with the Knights because I had them ranked No. 2 entering the season and they have done nothing to change that so far. Bellarmine is perfect, and though it hasn't had a super tough schedule to date, the Knights closest game this season was an eight-point margin. They are beating teams with little issue.
No. 3 Nova Southeastern | 3-0
The Sharks got a late jump to the season and have only played three games. This team hasn't lost a step from last season's Elite Eight bunch, and have beaten their three opponents by an average margin of victory of 54 points. Mark Matthews is playing like the player-of-the-year candidate we expected and Nick Smith has come out on fire to give the Sharks a big 1-2 punch.
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No. 4 West Texas A&M | 6-0
Like the Bearcats, the Buffs came out of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic unscathed, defeating nationally-ranked Lincoln Memorial and USC Aiken. Every victory has come in double-digit fashion and Joel Murray and Qua Grant may be the best sophomore duo in the nation outside of Maryville, Missouri (you know, those Trevor Hudgins and Diego Bernard fellows?).
No. 5 UC San Diego | 6-0
I had the Tritons ranked No. 25 heading into the season, despite the return of four starters. Looks like I was wrong, as they are clearly a top-10 team. Four of UCSD's six wins are against teams with winning records, and they are winning by a 21-point average. To say containing Chris Hansen and Christian Oshita is a handful for opposing teams is an understatement.
No. 6 Indiana (Pa) | 5-0
The Crimson Hawks lost a lot from their recent run of dominance, but we are learning Joe Lombardi simply gets the most out of everyone that steps on the court. Now, IUP hasn't had the toughest schedule, but it is winning and doing so convincingly at a margin of 14.6 points per game. They have a solid six-man rotation that can all score and board pretty darn well.
No. 7 Lincoln Memorial | 6-1
Here's where it gets a little dicey since I have a one-loss team above undefeated ones. That said, the Railsplitters lone loss came on opening night when they took West Texas A&M to overtime. Lincoln Memorial has won six straight since by an average of 36.2 points per game. Four of those wins have come against teams either ranked or receiving votes in one of the two national polls.
No. 8 Valdosta State | 5-0
Talk about a swing and a miss. I didn't even have the Blazers ranked entering the season. I thought the loss of Beau Justice would loom large and take some adjustment. I was wrong. Valdosta State is winning ball games, and winning big, with four players averaging double-digit points so far.
No. 9 Southern Indiana| 4-0
The Screaming Eagles had a dream run to the semifinals last year, and despite the loss of one of the best players in program history, they keep rolling. Here's a good example of where average margin of victory comes into play. Southern Indiana has the same record as some other undefeated teams, but so far it is steamrolling similar competition by nearly 20 points per game.
No. 10 Daemen | 7-1
Yep, you read that correctly. I have 7-1 Daemen in the top 10 despite the one loss. Especially when you consider the one loss was to Northwest Missouri State. The Wildcats have reeled off seven straight and held West Liberty to 83 points in a big upset on Nov. 16. It's fair to question if this run is sustainable since quite a few victories have been narrow wins, but right now, the Wildcats are hot, and in my opinion, deserve this spot.
Just missed (in alphabetical order):
- Alabama Huntsville
- Ferris State
- Missouri Southern
- Saint Anselm
- St. Edward's
- Queens (NC)
- West Liberty