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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | December 20, 2020

The DII Report: Washburn, Mercyhurst crash the latest Power 10 DII men's basketball rankings

Washburn sinks Fort Hays State at the buzzer on DII college basketball opening night

Washburn was a sleeper heading into the DII college basketball season, but the Ichabods are now wide awake. A perfect 6-0, Washburn is sitting pretty in the latest DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings.

RANKINGS: The Preseason Power 10 | The latest NABC poll

There were a few more DII basketball victories over Division I competition this past week, and Lincoln Memorial keeps its winning streak rolling.

Grab some eggnog, cuddle up next to the fire and get ready for the latest DII Report.

The new-look DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings

Things certainly have a different look since I rolled out the preseason rankings in mid-November. Three teams — Florida Southern, Nova Southeastern and Indiana (Pa.) — are either not tournament-eligible or not playing at all and thus, will no longer be considered.

So, what are the criteria in this ever so odd year of 2020?

DII MEN'S HOOPS 101: How the tournament works

I'm glad you asked. Some of the criteria I normally use in the Power 10 rankings are thrown out the window. Since it is almost entirely conference play — minus a few bonus games added last minute due to the coronavirus — there is not much in-region play to help decide how teams match up outside their conference. The record versus ranked teams is a bit skewed at this point, since many of the ranked teams won't start play until 2021.

So, I am using the criteria set forth by the selection committee where applicable, but for the first time, I'll be using a recency bias. We have to at this point, right? Also, schools MUST be eligible for the DII men's basketball championship. That means no CCAA, CIAA, NE10, PSAC, SSC or GNAC schools unless said teams are playing the required non-conference schedule to get in (at least 11 DII games). 

Remember, the tournament is now just 48 teams and conferences are still making decisions, so this could all change as soon as tomorrow.

No. 1 — Northwest Missouri State | Previous: No. 1
Bearcats are undefeated, blah blah blah. Trevor Hudgins and Ryan Hawkins are insanely good, blah blah blah. Kidding aside, the Bearcats remain the team to beat. There's nothing new to say. This team has been dominant since the 2018-19 season started.

No. 2 — Lincoln Memorial | Previous: No. 4
The Railsplitters are rolling, now at a DII-best 37-game winning streak. They are a perfect 5-0 to start the season, including an impressive 93-68 victory over Preseason Power 10 UAH. We can talk about Devin Whitfield and Cam Henry all day long, but all five starters can score in double figures on any night. This is a deep team.

No. 3 — West Liberty | Previous: No. 2
You can really flip-flop No. 3 and No. 4, but I stuck with the Hilltoppers at three despite not playing a game yet. Nothing new to report, except that any team with all five starters and three key reserves returning and can score 100 every night is one to watch. 

No. 4 — West Texas A&M | Previous: No. 3
The Buffs had to postpone their opening weekend matchup against nationally-ranked St. Edward's and took that aggression out on Texas A&M-Commerce midweek. West Texas A&M showed it can still do what it does best — score — as both Qua Grant and Jojo Murray combined for 51 of the team's 100 points. Grant also recorded the first of many double-doubles to come this season.

No. 5 — Mercyhurst | Previous: NR
The DII Lake Show is representing the PSAC in impressive fashion. Here is where some recent bias comes into play. The Lakers are known for defense and thus far it has showed, downing then-No. 12 Ferris State in back-to-back nights and then taming an underrated Ashland team. Mercyhurst is holding opponents to just 52.9 points per game with four players showing they can score when needed.

No. 6 — Washburn | Previous: NR
I said I really liked Washburn heading into the season and this is why. Now, the Ichabods haven't played a lot of top-ranked competition, but they are scoring points on one end, while limiting them on the other. I also think Tyler Geiman gets lost in the shuffle of MIAA stars, because he's one of the more unsung heroes of DII. He currently leads the Bods in points, rebounds, assists and steals. That's pretty good.

No. 7 — Colorado School of Mines | Previous: NR
The Mines are out to a fast start, now 6-0 to start the season. Like Washburn, they are scoring points in bunches while not allowing many at all — a mere 55.2 per game to be precise. Brendan Sullivan was on my preseason player of the year watchlist and he currently paces four Orediggers in double figures with 15.2 per night. 

MEN'S POY WATCHLIST: 11 DII college basketball players to watch 

No. 8 — Northern State | Previous: No. 7
The Wolves are another team that hasn't started play but is too good to keep out of the mix. Pretty much what I said in the preseason holds true: Northern State is two years removed from the DII men's basketball championship game and return four starters, including player of the year candidate Parker Fox. 

No. 9 — Truman | Previous: NR
Another newcomer to the mix, I like Truman here because of a commanding victory of then-top-10 Missouri-St. Louis. The Bulldogs are 4-0 with a very winnable game slated Sunday against Quincy. All five starters are averaging at least nine points per game with Dylan Peeters averaging a double-double thus far (12.8 points, 11.8 rebounds per game). Cade McKnight has also been impressive averaging 18.0 points per game on 56.4 percent shooting.

No. 10 — Findlay | Previous: NR 
The Oilers closed out the 2020 portion of their schedule undefeated, sitting at 4-0. This team has an intriguing cast with Tommy Schmock running the floor. He paces the offense, scoring 11.8 points per game on 65.4 percent shooting and a team-high 5.8 assists per game. This team has plenty of weapons and should be one to have on your radar.

Also considered: Alabama-Huntsville, Augusta, Augustana (SD), Azusa Pacific, Colorado Mesa, Daemen, St. Edward's, St. Thomas Aquinas, Tusculum, Valdosta State

What you missed last week in DII college basketball

A Shark attack in Honolulu: The Hawaii Pacific women's basketball team extended its winning streak to 26 games with a commanding victory over Big West foe Hawaii. Amy Baum, one of my preseason player of the year candidates, led the way with 28 points and nine rebounds as four Sharks reached double figures in the impressive 82-74 victory. It was the Sharks' first victory over their DI in-state rivals. 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH: DII women's hoops names to know

Lincoln (PA) women's basketball goes out in style: For the third straight season, the Lions took down a Division I MEAC opponent. This year, they dominated Delaware State, winning 72-55. Eleven players found the bottom of the net with at least two points, while Bryanna Brown led the way with 18 points. It turned out to be Lincoln's final game of the season with the CIAA's announcement of a canceled season.

Western Colorado downs Air Force: Notice a trend here, folks? DII women's basketball took charge this week, and the Mountaineers added to the fun. They went on the road and upended the Falcons 77-70. Samantha Coleman and Mikaela Parker led the way with 15 points each while Jessie Erickson grabbed 10 boards. 

Surprise, surprise: We looked at the DII men's Power 10, but what about some pleasant surprises thus far in 2020. Texas-Permian Basin is 5-0 and can score some serious points, like the Falcons did in their 61-point second-half comeback last week. Missouri Western dropped its first game of the season, but is in the top 25 for the first time in nearly two decades at 4-1. Lindenwood improved to 4-1 with a win over nationally-ranked UMSL (note, the Lions have a game scheduled Sunday shortly after this was published). 

Laolu Oke owns the glass. MSU Denver's sophomore forward had himself a week in the rebounding column. He ripped down 20 rebounds on Tuesday and followed that up with a 17-rebound performance on Thursday. The two games are the first and second-best rebounding performances of the young DII men's basketball season. 

Drury continues to reel off wins. The Lady Panthers continue to rack up wins and are the early-season No. 1 in this writer's opinion. Winners of 38 in a row and 69 straight at home, Drury makes it look easy, winning its games by an average of 25 points. Paige Robinson continues to shine, double-doubling in her last outing. But there are other impressive starts:

  • Central Missouri is now 6-0, winning games by nearly 20 points. Nija Collier and Graycen Holden are on fire, combining for 39.6 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.
  • Nebraska-Kearney is 5-0 heading into Sunday's action. The Lopers have done it defensively, allowing a mere 47.2 points per game. 
  • Tusculum is on fire, led by DII Report regular Maddie Sutton. Sutton is DII's leader in double-doubles with four as the Pioneers are out to a 6-0 start. 
  • Southern Indiana was a sleeper to watch on the men's side, but how about the women? The Eagles are 5-0 heading into Sunday's action, and Emma DeHart is leading the way with 18.6 points per game. 
  • Fort Hays State is also 4-0. The Tigers have a trio of scorers averaging double figures a night.

Enjoy your holidays, DII sports fans. We'll be back next Sunday with more DII news and notes.

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