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Wayne Cavadi | | February 23, 2022

A new-look DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings as conference tournaments begin

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

Regional rankings have dropped. Conference championships have begun. And Nova Southeastern continues to play undefeated basketball.

RANKINGS: Previous Power 10 | Regional

While Nova Southeastern was the logical choice to remain atop the latest DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings, it’s crunch time and we are heading down the home stretch. Many teams of Power 10s past have quite a bit to prove and may need to win their respective conference tournaments to get a higher seed come selection Sunday.

Remember, these are my rankings, and mine alone. The DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings 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. Keep in mind one thing about these metrics: Like the tournament, they are very regionalized. Comparing the RPI from one region to the next for example is not as cut and dry as it may seem. The next Power 10 rankings will be Wednesday, Mar. 9, following the Selection Show on March 6.

The DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings (All games through Feb. 21)

No. 1 Nova Southeastern | Previous: 1

The Sharks are the easiest pick out there right now as the unquestioned No. 1 in DII men’s basketball. They are second in the division in scoring offense and scoring margin, first in assists and steals per game and are fueled by the best turnover margin in DII. Nova Southeastern has four weapons that can score at any moment and one of the best big men (Sekou Sylla) and floor generals (Nick Smith) in DII.

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No. 2 (tie) Indiana (Pa) and West Liberty | Previous: 4 and 5, respectively

Finding what separates these two teams is like finding a needle in a haystack. West Liberty has won 10 in a row, while IUP has won nine. The Crimson Hawks led the Atlantic Region in the first regional rankings in RPI with West Liberty right behind. For performance indicator, it is flip-flopped with West Liberty No. 1 and IUP a very close No. 2. Strength of schedule? IUP is at .532 while West Liberty sits at .522. The Crimson Hawks’ Armoni Foster is playing at a player-of-the-year level and the Hilltoppers, per usual, are outscoring everyone in the division, including regionally ranked Fairmont State which they just defeated this past weekend. The Atlantic Region is going to be bananas.

No. 4 Augustana (SD) | Previous: 6

The Vikings are getting some breathing room in the very crowded Central Region. They closed out the regular season with 13 straight wins and await Minot State or Southwest Minnesota State in the NSIC tournament this Saturday. Per the last regional ranking metrics, the Vikings were No. 1 in many significant categories, including RPI and PI. The Vikings are the top scoring defense in the NSIC by a wide margin (nearly four points as of the end of the regular season) and have a true player-of-the-year candidate in Tyler Riemersma, who leads the NSIC in rebounding while scoring 18.5 points per game.

No. 5 Lubbock Christian | Previous: 3

The Chaps stumbled to open February, seeing their undefeated start to the season come to an end and lose a pair of games in a four-game span. But that speaks to how good this team has been… Lubbock Christian, despite two recent losses, is still this high in our rankings. Even as a two-loss team, the Chaps were perched atop the South Central region with the best PI and RPI while playing a schedule with a combined .536 winning percentage. That said, if the Chaps want to hold that spot, they have little room for error down the stretch, but this team is in the driver’s seat right now.

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No. 6 Chico State | Previous: 9

This may be surprising, since the Wildcats were third in the first regional rankings, trailing CCAA rivals Cal State San Bernardino and Cal State San Marcos. However, Chico State swept Cal State San Bernardino this season, and this past weekend took down Cal State San Marcos for the season split. Looking around the region, the Wildcats also have non-conference wins against No. 5 Seattle Pacific and No. 8 Azusa Pacific. This team has a nice balance and has been impressive against the competition it will face in March.

No. 7 Cal State San Bernardino | Previous: 10

The Coyotes fell a bit in the previous Power 10 after falling to Chico State. However, if you take away the games against Chico State this season, Cal State San Bernardino is 20-0. That includes big non-conference wins against regionally ranked Point Loma and Central Washington as well as conference rivals Cal State San Marcos and Cal State Monterey Bay. This offense paces the CCAA, scoring more than 10 points per game higher than the next closest team. Defenses will have their hands full this postseason.

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No. 8 Augusta | Previous: NR

The Southeast Region is crazy at the top — there is no other word to describe it. Augusta sneaks into the Power 10 this week for several reasons. The first, and most obvious, is a 13-point win over last week’s Southeast No. 1 Flagler. Augusta also swept regionally ranked Columbus State, Georgia College and USC Aiken this season. Lastly, the Jaguars had the top RPI in the region last week and trailed UNC Pembroke by fractions of a point in PI. The Jaguars have won nine in a row and are playing with a lot of momentum right now.

No. 9 Lincoln Memorial | Previous: NR

There could be a lot that disagree with this ranking, and that is fair. However, the Railsplitters have an impressive resume. They split with conference rival Queens (NC) and Wingate and swept Tusculum. They also have a non-conference win against USC Aiken, where compared to a team like UNC Pembroke, which does have a higher RPI and PI, but lacks wins against regionally ranked opponents. This time of year, teams that enter the Power 10 are teams with a proven track record against ranked competition, and that’s what gives Lincoln Memorial the edge… this week.

No. 10 Upper Iowa | Previous: NR

This is another spot that could be met with ire. Let’s look at who it came down to — the Peacocks, Northwest Missouri State and Minnesota Duluth. Per the last regional rankings metrics, Upper Iowa had a better RPI and PI than both. The Peacocks also won the head-to-head against Minnesota Duluth this season. Northwest Missouri State has some impressive non-conference wins against regionally ranked competition, but Upper Iowa has a big one against Truman, the No. 1 team in the Midwest in the first regional rankings. If you want to break it down even further, Upper Iowa has done all this against a tougher strength of schedule than both. It may not be the popular pick here, but right now it seems like the right one.

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First five out (in alphabetical order)

  • Central Oklahoma: The Bronchos are probably the No. 15 team if these “first five out” were ranked. They sneak past Fairmont State, which dropped its fifth game of the year. Central Oklahoma swept regionally ranked Fort Hays State and has that big win against Northwest Missouri State. In a region that somehow was void of the top team in the GAC, there is little room — if any — for error in the Central.
  • Minnesota Duluth: The Bulldogs finished strong, but a loss to Minot State bumped them from the top 10 for the first time in 2022. This team is still very balanced, with five strong scorers that is going to make it a nightmare for opposing defenses in the NSIC tourney.
  • Northwest Missouri State: This is just the second time the Bearcats have had as many as five losses since 2015-16 and the first time they have been right outside the top-10 in probably the same time. It’s not simply that the Bearcats have four MIAA losses, it’s that those losses have come against three of the top-5 teams in the conference (Central Oklahoma, Emporia State twice and Washburn). In a loaded Central Region, we may be seeing something very unfamiliar to all of us: The Bearcats are the underdogs.
  • Queens (NC): The Royals are part of the cluster atop the Southeast Region and barely miss a spot in the Power 10. Should they defeat Wingate in the regular season finale, it could certainly change things. There are few teams more ready for March, traditionally speaking, than Queens. We expect the same this year.
  • UNC Pembroke: The Braves dropped their second game of the season and fall just outside the top 10. Despite having a higher RPI and PI than both Queens and Lincoln Memorial, the Braves are lacking wins against regionally ranked opponents. This team still has plenty of weapons and can score points in bunches, so the Southeast better be prepared.

Player to watch: Philip Alston, Cal (PA)

We continue to highlight those players who may be flying under the radar because their team is not mentioned in rankings or polls. This week, we turn to the PSAC and one of the real breakout seasons players in DII men’s basketball.

Alston is one of the better stories in the division this season. He played a modest role in Cal’s 19-11 finish as a freshman in the 2019-20 season. That year, he appeared in 18 games, posting nightly averages of 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Expecting to take on a larger role in his sophomore campaign, the Vulcans never took the court last year.

Flash forward to the 2021-22 season and Cal has already matched/surpassed that 2020 win total with two games remaining. Alston is the main reason why. The 6-foot-6 big man is averaging 20.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, the latter leading the PSAC. With Cal in the hunt for a spot in the DII tournament, Alston is certainly one to watch.

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