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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | March 29, 2022

Northwest Missouri State tops the final DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings of 2022

Northwest Missouri State wins DII National Championship

The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats completed another March to remember and are the national champions… yet again. That puts the Bearcats atop the final DII men’s Power 10 rankings of the season… again. Welcome to the 2000s, right?

2022 TOURNEY: How the Bearcats won their third-straight titleInteractive bracket

These were particularly tough Power 10 rankings. Remember, this top 10 isn’t a national poll and there isn’t a body of voters deciding who should be where. There is also no selection committee to break down the additional numbers and help make sense of what some metrics mean. When you have a team go 31-0 all the way to the DII Men’s Elite Eight, but said team doesn’t win it all, just where do they rank? Does one game determine an entire season? Obviously not but combing through the details was no easy task here.

So, remember, these are my rankings, and mine alone. They aren’t perfect but do give an insight as to what it looks like to get to a fair top 10.

The final DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings of 2022

Photo credit: Jon Walker

No. 1 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 9

If this is the last we see Diego Bernard, Trevor Hudgins and Ben McCollum altogether on a DII men’s basketball court, well, we were treated to an epic finale. The Bearcats actually fell out of the Power 10 for the first time in the history of the rankings (which started three seasons prior) but once March hit, it was as if nothing changed. The Bearcats blew through the field in historic fashion and ended 2022 with the first “three-peat” in DII history.

No. 2 Nova Southeastern | Previous: 1

There is zero doubt that many will disagree, but the Sharks were a phenomenal team in 2022 that essentially played one poor half of basketball all season. This team went a perfect 31-0 all the way to the No. 1 seed in the DII Men’s Elite Eight, where it led after one half of quarterfinals play. And then, for the first time all year, the Sharks went cold. At the end of the day, this team played the 25th toughest schedule in DII and was second overall in scoring while leading DII in assists and turnover margin with the D2CCA player of the year in Sekou Sylla and two Bevo Francis finalists in Sylla and RJ Sunahara. This team was nothing short of amazing.

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

No. 3 Augusta | Previous: 7

The Jaguars had one large advantage all season: 7-foot-1 Tyshaun Crawford, a Bevo Francis finalist and one of the true dominating bigs in all DII. He was pivotal in defeating an outstanding Queens (NC) team to get to the DII Men’s Elite Eight and then put in a record-setting performance, going 12-for-12 in a 25-point, 14-rebound performance to defeat Indiana (Pa) in the semifinals. When you look back to November, this team was solid the entire way, dominating down low and shooting the three very well with signature victories up and down its schedule.

Last second 3-pointer advances DII basketball's Augusta to Elite Eight

No. 4 Indiana (Pa) | Previous: 2 (tied)

The Crimson Hawks reeled off a 33-win season that ended at the hands of Augusta in the national semifinals. That’s pretty impressive when you consider they lost Shawndale Jones — a top-five scorer in DII at the time — to injury earlier in the season. This team was deep offensively and extremely tough defensively — the best defense in its conference as a matter of fact — and it was all on display when IUP handled an extremely talented Hillsdale team by 12 points in the quarterfinals. As always, you can expect the Crimson Hawks back in the mix next season.

No. 5 Augustana (SD) | Previous: 5

Yes, a team that didn’t even make the DII Men’s Elite Eight comes in at No. 5. The Central Region is always very tough, and we typically see two or three of the best teams in the country play for the chance at the quarterfinals. Augustana was the top seed in the region for a reason and checked off all the boxes with signature wins and dominating stretches of the season. Tyler Riemersma was one of the best from start to finish. The Vikings season came to an end at the hands of the Bearcats. They aren’t the first and likely not the last to suffer that fate.

No. 6 Queens (NC) | Previous: 4

The Royals were on a 17-game winning streak until a buzzer-beater in the Southeast Region finals ended their chances of another DII Men’s Elite Eight appearance. Per the final NCAA.org numbers, the Royals were great against ranked opponents all season long, finishing 8-3 against tough opposition, including another victory over rival Lincoln Memorial in the Southeast Region semifinals. Like Augusta, the beneficiary of that thrilling buzzer beater, if Queens had advanced, you have to think it had the talent to get to the championship game.

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

No. 6 Chico State | Previous: First five out

The Wildcats came out of the stacked CCAA and then made their way through a very tricky West Region. That included defeating Cal State San Bernardino (ranked No. 8 in the previous NABC poll) and splitting the regular-season series with No. 9 Cal State San Marcos before losing to the Cougars in the CCAA tournament. This team was put to the test out West and was the lone survivor in Evansville. The Wildcats were gritty and could grind you down defensively or win in a shootout. It was simply an impressive run from start to finish and it was against the eighth toughest schedule in the division.

Note: There were nine teams considered for the next three spots in the Power 10. And it was very close as to how it turned out and could have gone several different ways. That is to show just how deep not only the rankings were this season, but the tournament as well.

No. 8 Minnesota Duluth | Previous: First five out

This is where the picks start to get unpopular because there will be some that were not in the final eight teams in Evansville. The Bulldogs had a remarkable turnaround in 2022. And that included going 9-3 against DII ranked teams, in one of the toughest regions in the division mind you. While injuries aren’t an excuse late in the season, the Bulldogs faced a red-hot Washburn team without Austin Andrews, who was second on the Bulldogs with 18.1 points per game and led the team in rebounding. If he were healthy, we’d be looking at a very different ball game.

No. 9 Lubbock Christian | Previous: 6

West Texas A&M put together an impressive resume… and the Chaps beat them both times this season. That keeps Lubbock Christian in the Power 10, but not that alone — this team was 9-2 against DII-ranked teams this year. The Chaps dropped a one-point heartbreaker to a very good Colorado Mesa team in the DII tournament. This team was No. 1 for some of the season and was very good from start to finish.

No. 10 (tie) Black Hills State and Washburn | Previous: NR for both

When the dust settled, Black Hills State played the 11th-toughest schedule in DII men’s basketball. That included defeating West Texas A&M and No. 1 (and then undefeated) Nova Southeastern in arguably the largest upset in DII Men’s Elite Eight history. That’s what pushes them into the final top 10 of the season. Well, that and Joel Scott, who set the Yellow Jackets single-season scoring record with 787 points while ripping down 10.6 rebounds per game.

It’s understandable if some disagree with this considering Washburn finished with a 22-11 record. But the Ichabods also played the toughest schedule in DII basketball and made it to the Central Region semifinals. They also started off with four losses before Dec. 5 because their star player, Tyler Geiman, was on the shelf. This team took down all the heavyweights at least once in the MIAA and handed Minnesota Duluth a 10-point loss in the Central Region tourney. The Ichabods were incredibly strong in the second half of the season.

First five out (in alphabetical order)

  • Bentley: The Falcons checked all the boxes with signature wins, a strong record against DII-ranked teams and a trip to the DII Men’s Elite Eight. This team had four scorers average 15 or more points per game this season.
  • Cal State San Bernardino: The Coyotes sneak in over Cal State San Marcos thanks to a stronger strength of schedule, that first-round DII tourney win and the top RPI in a stacked West Region heading into the tournament. It was an impressive run in 2022.
  • Hillsdale: Patrick Cartier was such a great player (again) this year and with that fluid and dangerous offense, the Chargers made program history with a trip to the DII Men’s Elite Eight. A 6-7 record against DII-teams during the season is the only thing that kept them out of the top 10.
  • West Liberty: This team can score with the best of them and seemingly will always be able to. The stunning first-round loss to West Virginia State doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a program you can already pencil into the tournament next year.
  • West Texas A&M: Head coach Tom Brown skipped the rebuild, did some reshuffling and despite a new-look starting five took the defending national runners-up all the way to the South Central Region semifinals. The Buffs went 11-3 against DII-ranked competition this year and proved it will continue to be among the DII elite programs.

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