Welcome back to the DII men's basketball season. The holiday break is in the books and we are full steam ahead in conference play. We open 2020 the same way 2019 closed: Bellarmine, Northwest Missouri State, and Nova Southeastern remain the cream of the crop.
RANKINGS: The final NCAA.com Power 10 of 2019
Before we jump into this week's rankings, let's remember: These are my picks, and mine alone. I base them off several categories that the DII men's basketball selection committee will use come NCAA DII tournament time such as — but not limited to — ranked teams beaten, record against winning teams, strength of schedule and average scoring margin.
Now, here's how the first Power 10 of 2020 turned out.
DII men's basketball Power 10: Jan. 6
(Note: All records and stats through games played Sunday, Jan. 5.)
No. 1 Bellarmine | 10-0 | Previous: 1
The Knights continue to smother their opponents behind a defense that allows just 58.7 points per game, third-best in DII men's basketball. Bellarmine has been handling its opponents by a margin of 24.2 points per night and is one of just two remaining undefeated teams in DII men's basketball. Alex Cook leads the way, tops on the Knights in scoring (15.6 points per game) and second in rebounding (5.6 points per game). A huge conference test awaits against the Screaming Eagles on Saturday.
This week: Jan. 9 at McKendree; Jan. 11 at Southern Indiana
No. 2 Northwest Missouri State | 12-1 | Previous: 2
The Bearcats are now 50-1 over the past season and a half, so there is little surprise that they remain near the top of the Power 10. Ryan Hawkins — who was the x-factor last year — has emerged as a go-to guy in the departure of Joey "Buckets" Witthus. The scary part is, the Bearcats have two other go-to guys in Trevor Hudgins and Diego Bernard.
This week: Jan. 9 at Emporia State; Jan. 11 at Washburn
No. 3 Nova Southeastern | 10-1 | Previous: 3
There is very little separating the top three teams right now. In fact, you could argue that the Sharks are improving their resume more than any other team in the Power 10 with two top 25 victories in their last three contests. They are averaging 109.9 points per game after dropping 111 on No. 14 Florida Southern in Saturday's overtime thriller. Mark Matthews is an absolute stud, averaging 22.5 points per game while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.
This week: Jan. 8 at Lynn; Jan. 11 vs. Florida Tech
No. 4 Lincoln Memorial | 13-1 | Previous: 4
This team has already checked plenty of boxes in 2019: a deep rotation of players, signature wins against ranked/ receiving votes teams and a superstar in the making in Courvoisier McCauley. The Railsplitters are balanced, able to explode on offense (93.2 per game) and shut you down on defense (67.5 per game). There is no question this team is capable of an Elite Eight run.
This week: Jan. 8 vs. UVA-Wise; Jan. 11 vs. Catawba
No. 5 West Texas A&M | 13-1 | Previous: 5
Qua Grant and Joel Murray fuel the Buffs charge and don't seem to be slowing down at all. The duo helped lead West Texas A&M to the Elite Eight last year and look to be ready for another deep run again in 2020. That said, Derrick Geddis is one I've had my eye on this season. A role player last year, Geddis has stepped into the starting lineup and averages 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
This week: Jan. 9 at Texas-Permian Basin; Jan. 11 at Western New Mexico
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No. 6 UC San Diego | 13-1 | Previous: 7
Much like there is very little separating Nos. 1 through 3 on the Power 10, the race between Nos. 4 through 7 is equally as close. The Tritons move up a spot this week because they have been winning without a DII player-of-the-year candidate against a schedule that has a combined .544 winning percentage. Christian Oshita has fit in nicely with the Tritons, leading the way with 17.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
This week: Jan. 9 at Stanislaus State; Jan. 11 at Humboldt State
No. 7 Indiana (Pa) | 10-1 | Previous: 6
The Crimson Hawks bounced back from their first loss of the season with a huge 25-point win this past week. Armoni Foster and Malik Miller are going to be a nightmare to handle for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference over the next few months. IUP has been a menace at home — where it opens divisional play on Monday — now 26-2 since last season.
This week: Jan. 6 vs. Mercyhurst; Jan. 8 at Slippery Rock; Jan. 11 at Gannon
No. 8 St. Edward's | 12-1| Previous: 9
The Hilltoppers keep winning since an early-season loss to top 25-killers Texas A&M-Commerce (the Lions are 3-0 against the top 25). This rotation is deep with six players that contribute more than nine points per night. St. Edward's is also the most unselfish team in the Lone Star Conference, leading the conference with 20.38 assists per night.
This week: Jan. 9 at Midwestern state; Jan. 11 at Cameron
No. 9 West Chester | 12-0 | Previous: 10
The Golden Rams just keep rolling and are the only other undefeated team in the Division. West Chester has the PSAC's top offense, scoring 88.2 points and 46.4 rebounds per game. Robbie Heath is on fire, having scored 24 or more points per game over his last five and is leading the team in rebounding as well. A big three-game week to open divisional play will be a good test for WCU.
This week: Jan. 6 at Edinboro; Jan. 8 vs. Shippensburg; Jan. 11 at Mansfield
No. 10 Missouri Southern | 10-2 | Previous: NR
This was a tricky spot. Quite a few of the teams I considered lost this week lost this past week, so it came down to factors like the toughness of schedule and scoring margin against tougher competition. The Lions are back on track after losing to Texas A&M-Commerce by two, winning three games in a row in blowout fashion. Cam Martin is a star and Kinzer Lambert and Elyjah Clark are big-time threats. This may be a bit aggressive, but my preseason No. 6 team looks like they are ready to be back in elite territory.
Just missed (in alphabetical order):
Like I said, this was the closest week so far. Florida Southern lost this past week, but took Nova Southeastern to overtime in a 111-103 thriller, proving the Mocs will contend with anyone. Southern Indiana looked to be heading to the No. 10 spot with an 86-82 victory over No. 25 Drury but dropped the next game to unranked (albeit pretty good) Southwest Baptist. With conference play opening up, we should be able to get some more separation in the coming weeks. DBU and Alabama Huntsville keep winning, but for me, I just need to see a few more signature wins to get back into the top 10, but both are right there.
- Alabama Huntsville
- Dixie State
- Ferris State
- Florida Southern
- St. Thomas