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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | January 25, 2022

Nova Southeastern jumps a spot in new DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings

DII men's basketball predictions for the 2021-22 season

The 2022 portion of the DII men’s basketball season went from 0 to 100 mph seemingly overnight. Last week, five teams in the Power 10 rankings fell, leading to a shakeup. A week later, the mighty Northwest Missouri State Bearcats lost to Central Oklahoma — and for a second week in a row we have a new-look top 10.

RANKINGS: Take a look back at last week's Power 10

The Central Region is looking to be among the toughest once again. Not only is Central Oklahoma picking up speed as the Bronchos head towards the Power 10, but Augustana (SD) is making some noise as well. The Vikings defeated Minnesota Duluth this past week, and per Inkblot Sports latest update, it propels Augustana (SD) to the top of the region in many metrics. It is actually pretty wild. You could make a case that the Power 10 could be eight teams from the Central and West Region, and you would have a very good case.

There has been some consistency this season and that’s been in Lubbock Christian and Nova Southeastern. The two programs are the last remaining undefeated teams in the division. The Chaps have cemented their hold on the No. 1 spot for yet another week, while the Sharks make another jump to No. 2.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCHLIST: The Bevo Francis top-100 is released

The weekly reminder: These are my rankings, and mine alone. The DII men’s basketball Power 10 ranking is a combination of overall records, insight from coaches, SIDs and insiders and some of the numbers considered by the selection committee come DII men’s basketball tournament time. You will have a new Power 10 every Tuesday until the start of the DII men’s basketball tournament.

The DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings

Note: All games through Jan. 24

No. 1 Lubbock Christian | Previous: 1

The Chaps made program history, picking up their 17th straight win to open the season. Lubbock Christian is now one of two undefeated teams in DII, but also the only undefeated team in the Lone Star Conference. Lubbock Christian is so dangerous with a seemingly perfect balance of offense and defense. That defense, which is now ranked fourth in scoring in DII, has led to a top-5 scoring margin of 19.3 points per game. This team is going to be very tough to beat.

UNDEFEATED WATCH: Track the remaining perfect teams 

No. 2 Nova Southeastern| Previous: 3

The Sharks have surprisingly broken the 90-point barrier only once in five January games. That said, this team is still second in DII in scoring with more than 97 points per game. The Big Three of Sekou Sylla, RJ Sunahara and Nick Smith continue to impress every time they take the court. Smith, who leads DII in steals and assists, is the catalyst as the Sharks are also tops in DII in assists per game, steals per game and turnover margin.

No. 3 Cal State San Bernardino | Previous: 8

The CCAA shuffle continues in the Wild West. This week it is the Coyotes' turn to spring to the upper half of the Power 10, ending Cal State San Marcos’ quest for a perfect season in a 74-64 overtime win last week. With Chico State losing again, that propels the Yotes to the top of the CCAA as well. This team is deep, with four scorers in double digits combining for the top-scoring team in the CCAA... by nearly 11 points.

No. 4 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 2

Why do the Bearcats only drop two spots after picking up a loss? Northwest Missouri State went into Edmond, Oklahoma, lost its second leading scorer and top rebounder Wes Dreamer to injury three minutes into the game and had two players foul out… and lost by one in overtime. Trevor Hudgins tied his single-game 3-point mark (11) for the third time this season. The Bearcats rebounded with a 29-point victory later in the week. You could argue I dropped the Bearcats a spot or two too low as they still have some of the best numbers in the division.

ALL-STATS: Trevor Hudgins tops the first starting five of the season

No. 5 Cal State San Marcos | Previous: 4

The Cougars lost to a Coyotes team that is clearly one of the best in the land, so their fall this week is a soft one. It was Cal State San Marcos’ third consecutive overtime game after picking up statement victories against Chico State and Point Loma. It looked like they just ran out of gas, and understandably so with that grind. This is still the top scoring defense in a tough conference and one of the better stories of the year.

No. 6 West Liberty | Previous: 10 (tie)

The Hilltoppers were one of just four teams in last week’s Power 10 that didn't record a loss this week, so that propels them back up the rankings. Remember, when it comes to teams that are close, such as West Liberty and conference rival Fairmont State (which beat the Hilltoppers by three points), we must go to the numbers. The Hilltoppers have played a tougher schedule with marginally better stats that the selection committee likes come March.

No. 7 Augustana (SD) | Previous: NR

This is where it gets confusing. The Vikings have wins against three nationally ranked teams, including a big one over Minnesota Duluth this past weekend. They also have a loss against Upper Iowa. They sneak into the top 10 this week because per Inkblot Sports stats, Augustana is atop the Central Region numbers. The Vikings are winners of five in a row, and rather convincingly at that.

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No. 8 Fairmont State| Previous: First five out

Welcome the Fighting Falcons to the mix. With its win over West Liberty on Jan.15, Fairmont State jumped into the “first five out.” Two more wins this week, and the Falcons are now 15-2, but the week ahead is a big one. Fairmont State has both Charleston (WV) and West Virginia State on the slate. Not only are the two right behind Fairmont State in the MEC standings, but Charleston is also responsible for one of its losses earlier this season.

No. 9 Indiana (Pa) | Previous: 4

The Crimson Hawks lost a stunner on Monday, but Pitt-Johnstown has been very good this season, now sitting at 14-3. That’s what keeps IUP in the top 10 for now. This team can score, but will also shut you down, leading DII men’s basketball with a 22.7 scoring margin. That’s in large part thanks to the career year Armoni Foster is putting together with averages of 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

No. 10 UNC Pembroke | Previous: NR (tie)

The Braves are 16-1 and winners of 12 in a row. What has been holding them off the list is strength of schedule, but with the bulk of losses in the Power 10 and “first five out” this past week and three more wins by an average of 33.3 points per win, UNC Pembroke can no longer be ignored. This is yet another strong starting five, with four players scoring more than 10 points per game.

HISTORY: DII men's basketball programs with the most championships

First 10 out (in alphabetical order)

As we’ve said many times the past two weeks, the 2022 portion of the DII men’s basketball season has been wild. While it is always difficult, there is usually a distinct separation in stats or wins that helps sort out the “First five out”. This week, it was splitting hairs, so let’s highlight all 10 deserving teams.

  • Central Oklahoma: A win against Northwest Missouri State is going to boost your status in the division. This rotation has four double-digit scorers and Isaiah Wade is one of the most dynamic players on the court.
  • Chico State: With two losses in their past three games, the Wildcats fall out of the Power 10 for the first time in 2022. That said, they have played a tougher schedule than some top-10 teams and still have one of the best RPI in the division. 
  • Ferris State: The Bulldogs may be the team to beat in the Midwest. They have rebounded from their loss to Minnesota Duluth with five straight victories, two of which are key victories against GLIAC powers Grand Valley State and Saginaw Valley State.
  • Flagler: The Saints have won four in a row, including a 13-point thumping of nationally ranked Augusta. That is a huge in-region win and Flagler is now 2-0 against top-25 teams. Jaizec Lottie is one of the best scorers in DII.
  • Lincoln Memorial: The Railsplitters suffered a shocking loss to 7-9 Catawba, but the basketball season is a long grind. Lincoln Memorial shouldn’t be discouraged too much with an offense that features six players averaging double figures in scoring.
  • Minnesota Duluth: Full disclosure, this was a hard pick. The Bulldogs are a very good team, but with back-to-back losses to top 25 teams, they fall just out of the top 10. Statistically speaking, even with those losses, they are right there, which exemplifies how well they have played this season.
  • Queens (NC): Up and down the Royals’ season goes. They have now split with SAC heavyweights Lincoln Memorial and Tusculum and have won three in a row. Jamari Smith is an absolute stud and a well-deserving Bevo Francis Award nominee.
  • Upper Iowa: See Minnesota Duluth. Upper Iowa is playing very well but picked up the third loss of the season to Northern State. This team has exciting, big-time scorers and a solid resume thus far, but needs to keep putting up convincing wins in a loaded Central Region.
  • West Texas A&M: This is the first time since I have been doing the Power 10 rankings that West Texas A&M is on the outside looking in. The Buffs have dropped a couple games in January, but playing in a tough Lone Star Conference, they have the numbers to quickly return to the Power 10 with a few signature wins.

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Augusta, Barry, Bentley, Dominican (NY), Truman

Player to watch: DaJuan Jones, Texas Permian Basin

We continue to highlight those players who may be flying under the radar because their team is not mentioned in rankings or polls. Let’s head to the Lone Star Conference and Bevo Francis Award nominee, DaJuan Jones.

Jones is a graduate transfer from Arkansas-Monticello where he helped lead the Boll Weevils to their first GAC tournament championship last year. In fact, it was his drive to the basket with 3.5 seconds remaining in the championship game that put UAM up by one point. He took home the tournament MVP honors.

This year with the Falcons, Jones is leading the Lone Star Conference in assists (7.4 per game) and assist/turnover ratio. He is also third in DII with those 7.4 assists per game, while adding 14.1 points per game and a team-high 27 steals through 18 games. Already a player-of-the-year contender, Jones should be on your radar.

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