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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | January 24, 2021

DII Report: Upsets, buzzer beaters, new Power 10 rankings and former DII football stars in Sunday's NFL playoffs

No. 10 Findlay knocks off No. 23 Hillsdale on game-winning buzzer-beater

Welcome to the year of the buzzer-beater. From Washburn's opening night last-second victory to this past week, it seems the world of DII college basketball has been taken over by the dramatic last-second shot.

Oh, and more upsets.

Simply put, the weird year of 2020 didn't pump the brakes when the calendar flipped to '21. And speaking of 2021, there are just four teams left in the 2021 NFL Playoffs. Curious of which former DII football players will be on the field Sunday? Of course you are.

You know what that means. Sit back, kick the feet up and get ready. We're going to look back at the week that was and get you caught up on the latest DII women's basketball top-10 in this week's DII Report. 

Another wild week in DII college basketball

The fun and unpredictable 2020-21 DII college basketball season continues to unfold, leaving more questions than answers on what March will look like. 

Did you see the week Lenoir-Rhyne's men's team had? First, the Bears upset No. 13 Queens (NC), sparked by a 49-41 second half to win 71-66. I said heading into the season that R.J. Gunn was a special player who could help the Bears make some noise. And he's done just that. Lenoir-Rhyne has now beaten Lincoln Memorial and Queens this season. On Wednesday, big man Cooper Fowler got the putback at the buzzer to move the Bears to 6-2 on the year.

And how about the old alley-oop at the buzzer for the win? That's exactly how No. 10 in our Power 10 rankings DBU improved to 9-1 with a 91-90 victory over Midwestern State. There are no words, just watch for yourself:

The Glenville State women's team is known for lighting up the scoreboard, but Taychaun Hubbard's performance got the defense some recognition. She recorded 10 steals in Wednesday's 123-74 victory over Wheeling, setting the Mountain East Conference single-game record. 

The Concord men's team did two things that not many teams in the MEC can say they've done. Not only did the Mountain Lions upset the No. 2 team in our Power 10, West Liberty, but they also held the Hilltoppers to under 90 points. Malik Johnson (25 points) and Mohamed Bundu (22 points, 14 rebounds) led the way.

Carson-Newman and Tusculum women's basketball teams played a memorable one on Wednesday. Both teams are likely to be in the top-25 when the first WBCA poll is released, and both battled like it. It took two overtimes, but when the final whistle blew, Carson-Newman remained perfect on the year and handed Tusculum its first loss 69-66. The Eagles' Braelyn Wykle scored a career-high 30 points, while the Pioneers Maddie Sutton pulled down a program-record 25 rebounds.

Lander and North Georgia, another pair of teams that are poised to highlight the first WBCA poll, also played a doozy. The Nighthawks entered the final quarter with a 47-42 lead, but a 9-0 run to start from Lander made this a thrilling period. A wild final seconds that saw lead changes, turnovers and, eventually, a tie, led the two into overtime. Lander was able to pull away 69-63 and — SPOILER ALERT — propelled itself up the Power 10.

While the Turnpike Tussle usually gets more attention on the gridiron, Emporia State made sure it was noticed on the hardwood. The Hornets upset No. 7 Washburn, 91-74. The two teams played even in the first half until Emporia State erupted for a 48-31 dominating second half. Jumah'Ri Turner led all scorers with 27 points. 

Parker Fox kept his name in the player of the year hunt by getting Northern State to 8-0 behind a 21-point, 21-rebound performance. It was his fourth double-double of the year. The Wolves are looking like real contenders.

It was a roller-coaster weekend for St. Edward's in DII men's basketball. On Friday, the Hilltoppers ran away with an 86-65 victory to get head coach Andre Cook his 200th career victory with the school. The following night saw the Hilltoppers' 34-game home winning streak come to an end to the very same UTPB team they defeated the night before. This is a very strong win for the Falcons, but I've said it before: these back-to-back games against the same team make it hard for weekend sweeps in the Lone Star Conference. 

Speaking of monumental wins, Mercyhurst improved to 4-0 on the year. The Lakers locked up win No. 300 for head coach Gary Manchel, who had his squad in the last DII Elite Eight two years ago. The Lakers' defense continues to impress and will make them a dangerous out, come tourney time. 

Well, hello Lubbock Christian. We normally have plenty to say about the women's team, but how about the men's squad thus far? A 19-win team a year ago, the Chaps are off to an 8-0 start. Their latest win saw them dish out 28 assists and shoot 56 percent from the floor. 

The latest DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings

It's been two weeks since the last Power 10 rankings. Moving forward, we'll take a look at the DII women's basketball top-10 every other week until the tournament.

A quick reminder. These are my rankings, and mine alone. I usually try to stick as closely to the same criteria that the selection committee uses come tournament time, but this is a much different season. That said, there will be some recency bias in play, and if there was a tight line to draw, I went with the red-hot team over the one just getting started. 

Also note, these are only teams that currently are scheduled to hit the requirement for games played to become tournament eligible this March. Any teams in conferences not playing this season will not be included. 

1. Drury — The Panthers have not played since I last updated the Power 10, but are still the team to beat. Paige Robinson is second in the GLIAC in points (21.3 per game), while leading the team in rebounds (7.1 per game) and assists (6.1 per game) and is a true player of the year candidate. 

2. Lubbock Christian — The Lady Chaps turned in an impressive weekend sweep over the upstart Texas A&M International Dustdevils, improving to 8-0 on the season. This team has impressive depth with seven players chipping in more than 15 minutes per night and all able to score when needed. The nation's best scoring defense — a stingy 45.7 points per game allowed — certainly helps. 

3. Nebraska-Kearney — The Lopers remain undefeated on the season, now at a very impressive 12-0. Watching the Lopers is watching true team basketball. Not one player is averaging double figures, yet six are contributing at least 6.8 points per game. Add in DII's third-best scoring defense, and this is a tough team to beat.

4. Lander — We talked about the big top-25 victory over PBC rival North Georgia. The Bearcats ended UNG's perfect start to the season while extending theirs to 7-0. This team is fun to watch and the trio of Zamiya Passmore, Makaila Cange and Miriam Recarte are legit. The three combine to score 43.7 of the Bearcats 72 points per game. 

5. Hawaii Pacific — Well, the Sharks finally returned to DII play two weekends ago, only to have this past weekend postponed. Still, HPU is off to a 3-0 start and has now won 28 in a row. Here's where recency bias comes into play. Amy Baum and Olivia West are a dangerous scoring duo, and this team is very good. But having played only three games so far, the Sharks slip two spots.

6. Carson-Newman — I'll admit it. I slept on the Eagles. They have been good for quite some time, but I thought losing Kayla Marosites would've taken a larger toll. I was wrong. Carson-Newman is now 7-0 coming off that impressive victory over Tusculum. Braelyn Wykle is off to a sizzling start scoring 22.9 points per game and senior Addison Byrd is leading the way as the veteran on the team.

7. Charleston (WV) — Let's welcome the Golden Eagles to the mix. Charleston is now 6-0, the last undefeated team in the Mountain East. That's because it has wins over Glenville State and Notre Dame (OH), the two teams projected to finish first and second in the MEC, respectively. Brooklyn Pannell is averaging 23.2 points per game, while Erykah Russell is averaging a double-double with 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

8. Valdosta State — I have been overly high on the Blazers since opening tip. Last weekend they suffered their first loss of the season to perennial top-25 Lee and rebounded this weekend with two tremendous wins. Five players scored in double figures in their most recent victory. 

9. West Texas A&M — The Buffs and Texas A&M-Commerce were really close for me, and since West Texas A&M won two games handily this past weekend while the Lions dealt with postponement, here is where that recency bias comes into play. Lexy Hightower and Abby Spurgin are a strong one-two punch, and while they have a loss on their record, it was in double-overtime.  

10. Tusculum — Sure the Pioneers picked up their first loss, but let's be real. It was to a really good Carson-Newman team and went to double-overtime. This team is still one to watch, especially with Maddie Sutton reeling off double-doubles every night. Three other Pioneers join in, averaging double figures in scoring. 

The next 15 (in alphabetical order): Cedarville, Central Missouri, Colorado School of Mines, Daemen, Emporia State, Gannon, Glenville State, Grand Valley State, Minnesota Duluth, North Georgia, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Southern Indiana, Texas A&M-Commerce, Valdosta State, Western Colorado

DII football alum in NFC and AFC Championship games

Matt LaFleur will draw up the game plan for the Green Bay Packers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Before he was making plays for Aaron Rodgers, he was breaking records as a DII football quarterback at Saginaw Valley State.

👀 RECORD-SETTER: 11 records Matt LaFleur set on the DII football field

Here's who else to keep an eye on in Sunday's games. 

(Note: Active rosters only per NFL.com on Saturday, Jan. 23)

Team Player School
Buffalo Bills John Brown Pittsburg State
  Justin Zimmer Ferris State
Green Bay Packers Malik Taylor Ferris State
Kansas City Chiefs Tyreek Hill West Alabama
  Nick Keizer Grand Valley State
  Mike Pennel CSU-Pueblo
  Tershawn Wharton Missouri S&T
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tanner Hudson Southern Arkansas
  Ryan Jensen CSU-Pueblo
  Zach Triner Assumption

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