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Wayne Cavadi | | March 22, 2022

How Nova Southeastern took an undefeated run into the DII Men's Elite Eight

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

The run is over. Nova Southeastern went 31-0 until falling in the 2022 DII men's basketball tournament quarterfinals, upset by Black Hills State 77-67. The Sharks were the first Sunshine State Conference team to go undefeated in league play and overall in the regular season since SSC expansion in the 1981-82 season.

Before we look back on the Sharks and their 31-straight wins, let’s start with a historical perspective.

HISTORY: Every DII men's basketball champion

There have been 64 DII men's basketball championship seasons completed, minus the 2020 tournament which was cut short by COVID-19. Of those 64 national champions, a mere five have gone undefeated. That’s roughly 8% of all national champions in history, so clearly this is no easy task. It becomes even more daunting when you compare it to DII women’s basketball, where four of the last seven national champs completed the season undefeated.

All-time undefeated seasons in DII men's basketball

Year Team Record Conference
2019 Northwest Missouri State 38-0 MIAA
2009 Findlay 36-0 GLIAC
1996 Fort Hays State 34-0 RMAC
1993 Cal State Bakersfield 33-0  CCAA
1965 Evansville 29-0 Indiana Collegiate Conference

One of the conferences — the ICC — no longer exists. That's how long it's been since the first undefeated champion.

Of the five previous undefeated national champions, three — Northwest Missouri State, Cal State Bakersfield and Evansville — had won a championship prior to its undefeated season. Findlay won its division six of the seven seasons leading up to its perfect championship season and was an established DII powerhouse, so it felt like something special was on the verge of happening.

RECENT UNDEFEATED TEAMS: Northwest’s dominating 2019 | Findlay’s buzzer-beating finale

Fort Hays State seems to be the outlier, the lone dove that surprised the world and the model these Sharks need to follow. The Sharks have never been to a championship game, never mind won one. In fact, Nova Southeastern made its first NCAA DII tournament appearance in program history just two years ago. 

Additionally, the number of undefeated teams remaining halfway through seems to be shrinking. Eight teams remained undefeated at the start of January in 2017 and 2019 (when the Bearcats most recently did it), and nine teams were still perfect on Jan. 1, 2018. The 2019-20 season saw just two and this year saw five on Jan. 1.

TOURNEY TIME: Everything you need to know about the DII men's basketball tournament

So, completing a season undefeated in DII men’s basketball is a rarity, and may be getting rarer. 

Nova Southeastern | Record: 31-1

Big games remaining: Florida Southern (Jan. 15, W: 83-73; Feb. 12, W: 97-87), Tampa (Jan. 22, W: 84-75), Barry (Feb. 2, 97-87) Embry-Riddle (Feb. 26, W: 94-85)

No. 1 seed in the Sunshine State Conference 

  • Defeated No. 8 Florida Tech, 89-77
  • Defeated No. 4 Florida Southern, 92-65
  • Defeated No. 3 Barry, 98-85

No. 1 seed in the South Regional

  • Defeated Savannah State, 113-62
  • Defeated Union (TN), 81-80
  • Defeated Embry-Riddle, 71-68 

No. 1 seed in the DII Men's Elite Eight

  • Lost, Black Hills State, 77-67

Nova Southeastern opened 2022 with a pair of top 25 showdowns and came out victorious by double digits in both and have now swept nationally ranked Barry in three games this season. This offense was  near the top of DII with nearly 100 points per game and led the division in steals, assists and turnover margin. 

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