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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | October 4, 2020

Early DII college basketball contenders and a look at next week's DII football slate

DII college basketball: Trevor Hudgins sinks game-winner for Northwest Missouri State's 7th-straight MIAA title

It was a quiet week in the world of DII sports with just one DII football team and some cross country meets across the nation. There was some big DII college basketball news out of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, however. 

Let's take a look ahead at what's to come in the division. 

DII college basketball: Let’s start looking at the contenders

The big news of the week came out of the MIAA. The Association announced its men’s and women’s basketball teams will get back to action on October 15th with tip off around the conference on November 18 and 19. 

Last week, we took a look at how the season ended in the NCAA.com’s Power 10 rankings. Now, let’s turn our attention to the year ahead in both men’s and women’s basketball. We’ll start with a look at the two teams that finished 2019 at No. 1.

DII men’s basketball: Northwest Missouri State
The MIAA and DII college basketball should certainly fear the Bearcats. Northwest Missouri State was sitting at 31-1, ready to defend its undefeated national championship from the year prior when play halted. The Bearcats return seven players, including four starters, three of which — Ryan Hawkins, Trevor Hudgins and Diego Bernard — are amongst the best in the division. Not too many would be surprised if Hudgins walks away with the player of the year award.
First game: at Northeastern State, November 19, 2020

DII women’s basketball: Drury
The Lady Panthers were 32-0 after the GLVC tournament last season, but things will look a lot different in Springfield, MO this season. Gone is head coach Molly Miller who went an unthinkable 180-17 in her six seasons at the helm. Also gone is Hailey Diestelkamp, who was one of the greatest players in program history, as well as Daejah Bernard who made the Drury engine go. But Drury is always ready with nine returners. Paige Robinson is a conference player of the year candidate and Haley Meely could be the freshman of the year in the GLVC. New head coach Amy Eagan has plenty to make another run.
First game: TBA

DII football: RMAC ready to open play next weekend

Only one DII football team was in action this past Saturday, as West Texas A&M traveled to FCS Stephen F. Austin in a battle of Texas teams. West Texas A&M moved to 1-2 in their busy schedule and finally have a week off next Saturday.

A look ahead: Four Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schools begin their football seasons on Saturday, October 10. Chadron State heads to Colorado Mesa while Black Hills State heads to South Dakota Mines.

Saturday’s game will be the 135th meeting between the Hard Rockers and Yellow Jackets, making it the oldest rivalry in DII football. It was Black Hills State that took home the Homestake Trophy last year, but the Hard Rockers still hold the series lead 63-60-11.

South Dakota Mines has two exciting players on offense in running back Ahmad Lewis and quarterback Jayden Johannsen. Lewis led the RMAC in rushing, averaging 125.9 yards per game to go along with nine touchdowns. Johannsen transfers in from North Dakota State, and if we know anything about the Bison it’s that they know a thing or two about QBs. For Black Hills State, Chance Eben will be back under center and he will have tight end Jarret Jenson back, who caught a touchdown in last year’s Black Hills Brawl.

Elsewhere, Angelo State will be the second team to try and take down FCS Stephen F. Austin in as many weeks. The Lumberjacks defeated West Texas A&M 34-6 on Saturday

DII cross country: Six conference are underway

The cross country season is off and running (pun completely intended). Six conferences and 76 schools have gotten their fall seasons underway. With the RMAC among the conferences in the mix, that means the defending men's champion Colorado School of Mines and defending women's champion Adam's State are both in action this season. Mines will host Colorado Christian in the 5675 Time Trials next Friday while Adam's State heads to Grand Junction, Colorado for the Maverick Invitational. 

Around the horn: DII baseball and softball isn’t far away

Both the DII baseball and DII softball seasons hardly got started when play halted. There were so many questions left unanswered. Could Tampa catch Florida Southern for the most championships in DII baseball history? Would Augustana (SD) become the first repeat champions of the new millennium?

The season doesn’t open for a few months, but we’re itching to see how things will be when play resumes. Before it does, let's get caught up on how we left things in March.

NCAA.com DII baseball power 10 rankings (from March 9)

  • No. 1 Central Missouri
  • No. 2 Angelo State
  • No. 3 UC San Diego
  • No. 4 Colorado Mesa
  • No. 5 Tampa
  • No. 6 North Greenville
  • No. 7 Catawba
  • No. 8 Minnesota State
  • No. 9 Georgia College
  • No. 10 (tie) Ashland Eagles, Mount Olive 

Quick thoughts: DII baseball championship regulars UC San Diego are Division I bound, so the top 10 will certainly have a different look. There was a lot of good baseball being played, particularly in the Southeast. Central Missouri and Angelo State were really cooking when play ceased, and it felt like a really good Colorado Mesa team was just coming together.

NCAA.com DII softball power 10 rankings (from March 11)

  • No. 1 Southern Arkansas
  • No. 2 Augustana
  • No. 3 Chico State
  • No. 4 North Georgia
  • No. 5 Young Harris
  • No. 6 Texas-Tyler
  • No. 7 Angelo State
  • No. 8 Texas A&M-Commerce
  • No. 9 Grand Valley State
  • No. 10 Trevecca Nazarene 

Quick thoughts: The Vikings had a mere 17 games under their belt in the title defense, one in which they piled up 61 wins the previous season. A simple look at the rankings shows things were getting hot in Texas, as DII newcomer UT-Texas was really impressing in its first run through the Lone Star Conference. The final Power 10 of 2020 had four new teams enter the mix, so things were just beginning to unfold. 

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