Tournament time is approaching and the elite teams in DII men's basketball are beginning to separate themselves from the pack. The top-9 teams in last week's Power 10 rankings didn't lose, but a 1-1 week by No. 10 sees a new team enter the mix.
RANKINGS: How the Power 10 fared last week
Before we get started on the latest Power 10, remember we've added a bonus. For the third week in a row, I'll be looking at how those first regional rankings may unfold come Wednesday, Feb. 19. I'll take a guess each week at who the top seed could be in each of those regions. So, how did we get to these 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. That means my Power 10 and regional rankings could have slightly different looks as the regional rankings are more of a season outlook while the Power 10 is more in the now.
Here are your latest Power 10 rankings, followed by the first release of my top seeds in each region.
DII men's basketball Power 10: Feb. 10
(Note: All records and stats through games played Sunday, Feb. 9.)
No. 1 Northwest Missouri State |22-1| Previous: 1
For as well as the Bearcats have played, they are not the clear-cut No. 1 with Lincoln Memorial creeping closer each week. That said, a big showdown on the road in Joplin against Missouri Southern would add to Northwest Missouri State's impressive resume. There isn't a box these Bearcats don't check: they are not only winning but winning big (a scoring margin of 22.3 points per game) and they have played the 32nd-toughest schedule in the division. Their Big Three — Trevor Hudgins, Diego Bernard and Ryan Hawkins — are second to none.
This week: Feb 13 at Missouri Southern; Feb. 15 at Pittsburg State
No. 2 Lincoln Memorial | 23-1 | Previous: 2
The Railspitters have just been utterly dominant since, well Game 2 really, now dropping 93.6 points per game while allowing 70.2 a night. As a team, they are shooting .523 from the field and .415 from 3 as there is simply no one player to shut down on a given night that will give you the competitive edge. Courvoisier McCauley, Devin Whitfield, Cameron Henry and dunkmaster Anthony Brown are all averaging over 12.9 points per game this season, a nasty four-headed monster for opposing defenses.
This week: Feb. 12 at UVA-Wise; Feb. 15 vs. Newberry
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No. 3 West Texas A&M | 23-1 | Previous: 3
It was an uncharacteristic week for the Buffs. Sure, they went 2-0 once again, now winners of 14 in a row, but scored just 145 points in both games, well below their season average of 92.5 points per game. Still, that shows just how dangerous West Texas A&M is, winning games with lockdown defense while still more than capable of 100-plus point games. Not to sound like a broken record, but have you checked out the Qua Grant and Joel Murray Show? You really should, the two are quite the force.
This week: Feb. 13 vs. Tarleton; Feb. 15 vs. DBU
No. 4 UC San Diego | 22-1 | Previous: 4
Tyrell Roberts is on absolute fire. He keeps reeling of conference player of the week awards, and this past week he dropped he second-straight 30-point night. He's been absurd from beyond the arc of late, shooting 71 percent (24-for-34) from 3. As long as he and Christian Oshita keep rolling, the Tritons look tough to beat in the West.
This week: Feb. 13 vs. Cal State Dominguez Hills; Feb. 15 vs. Cal State LA
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No. 5 Nova Southeastern | 18-2 | Previous: 5
It was a big week for the Sharks, avenging one of their two losses on the season in an 89-85 victory over Rollins on the road. Unfortunately, that week pales in comparison to what lies ahead: a showdown with Florida Southern, you know, that team one spot below. This team is electric, scoring 104.2 points per game and Mark Matthews is one of the toughest to stop in DII, scoring 21.6 points per game on 61.8 percent from the floor.
This week: Feb. 12 vs. Lynn; Feb. 15 vs. Florida Southern
No. 6 Florida Southern | 21-2 | Previous: 6
The Mocs have won nine in a row and have been throwing up a ton of points along the way. That last loss? A 111-103 overtime thriller to the aforementioned Nova Southeastern Sharks. This week's game isn't only big for my Power 10, but will mix up the Sunshine State Conference and South Region rankings as well. The Mocs' stars Jalyn Hinton and Brett Hanson both had big games last time around, expect them to shine once again on Saturday.
This week: Feb. 12 vs. Rollins; Feb. 15 at Nova Southeastern
No. 7 Azusa Pacific | 18-3 | 7
The Cougars have now won 13 in a row and are making the West Region prime viewing giving UC San Diego a good chase for the top spot. They had a tremendous week for their PacWest standings, taking down second-place Point Loma by seven and third-place Chaminade by four. Selom Mawugbe continues to be a menace down low, now averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting an astonishing 73.1 percent from the field.
This week: Feb. 10 vs. Hawaii Pacific; Feb. 13 vs. Fresno Pacific; Feb. 15 vs. Dominican
No. 8 St. Edward's | 21-2 | Previous: 8
St. Edward's had another perfect week, now winners of four in a row. The Hilltoppers are one of three Lone Star Conference divisional leaders still undefeated in division play, which means we're heading for quite the conference tournament. They boast the LSC's second-best scoring offense at 87.4 points per game led by Ashton Spears 20.0 points per game.
This week: Feb. 13 vs. UT Permian Basin; Feb. 15 vs. Western New Mexico
No. 9 Indiana (Pa) | 18-2 | Previous: 9
Another win paired with a West Liberty loss gives the Hawks some more breathing room in the Atlantic Region. That said, the Crimson Hawks have some tough competition left on the schedule before the PSAC tournament begins. This team is balanced with the second-best scoring offense (83.6 points per game) and defense (65.6 allowed per game) in the conference led by Malik Miller and Armoni Foster, two of the best in the PSAC.
This week: Feb. 12 at California (PA); Feb. 15 vs. Gannon
No. 10 Jefferson | 20-2 | Previous: NR
This came down to the Rams and fellow East Region heavyweight Bridgeport. Jefferson's Dec. 7 18-point victory over the Purple Knights give them the nod for now. DeVaughn Mallory, Josh Bradanese, Kylan Guerra and Deondre Bourne all average more than 13 points per game giving the Rams a potent offense. The Central Athletic Collegiate Conference is a tricky one, but Jefferson is the last remaining undefeated team in CACC play and have zero teams with a winning record left on its slate.
This week: Feb. 15 at District of Columbia
DII men's basketball regional rankings: Who's No. 1?
If the regional rankings were released today, here's who I think would be the No. 1 team in each of the eight regions.
- Atlantic: Indiana (Pa). The Crimson Hawks toughest competition — West Liberty — lost to an unranked team before bouncing back against top 25 Charleston (WV). The Hilltoppers are still one to watch here, as is Shippensburg, but I think this is IUP's for now.
- Central: Northwest Missouri State. What else can I say about this squad? Ok, how about they are 122-6 over the past three-plus seasons.
- East: Jefferson. Bridgeport is getting close, but the Rams still have that win over the Purple Knights.
- Midwest: Ferris State. This one is wide open. Each of the three teams I had in contention last week — Bellarmine, Ferris State and Grand Valley State — lost at least one game last week. Missouri-St. Louis which I had on the outside looking in dropped both of its games last week. We'll go with the Bulldogs and their DII-best 22 wins.
- South: Nova Southeastern. This can change Saturday against Florida Southern.
- South Central: West Texas A&M. Like I said last week: this is Buffs country until further notice.
- Southeast: Lincoln Memorial. Also like I said last week: I don't think this is even close. The Railsplitters are on a level all their own right now.
- West: UC San Diego. Azusa Pacific is getting close, but the Tritons look unstoppable right now.