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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | January 18, 2023

DII men's basketball Power 10 rankings: Nova Southeastern holds tight at No. 1

Northwest Missouri State wins DII National Championship

We are halfway through January and although the top two teams remain the same, there was some serious shaking up of the new Power 10 rankings in DII men's basketball.

POWER 10 PREP: Look back at the previous Power 10

Nova Southeastern and Indiana (PA) are the final remaining undefeated teams in DII men's basketball and are thus No. 1 and 2 respectively. With Northwest Missouri State, Black Hills State and UMSL all racking up losses since the last Power 10, the rest of the rankings have a new look. 

The fourth DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings of the regular season

(Note: Games through Jan. 16)

No. 1 Nova Southeastern | Previous: 1: The Sharks are 16-0, have a pair of Bevo Francis Award candidates, and are simply blowing past the opposition. They lead DII with 107.1 points per game and are defeating opponents by 29.7 points per game, more than six points better than the next best team. A big matchup against Embry-Riddle awaits this week, but the Sharks have handled a tough schedule very well so far. 

POY WATCHLIST: The initial Top 100 Bevo Francis watchlist released

No. 2 Indiana (PA) | Previous: 2: The Crimson Hawks keep powering along and like the Sharks, are fueled by a pair of Bevo Francis Top 100 candidates. Opposite of the Sharks, this team is fueled by defense, and is one of the best in the land, allowing a paltry 58.7 points per game. I'm not one for cliche, but defense does win championships and is a large reason why IUP is annually a DII Men's Elite Eight threat. 

No. 3 Central Oklahoma | Previous: 9: Speaking of great defenses, the Bronchos have a top-five scoring defense in DII men's basketball, allowing just 58.9 points per game. When you factor in that has been against DII's sixth-toughest schedule, you have a solid ball team. Last week, they held the Bearcats to just 38.2% shooting in an 11-point win against the three-time champs. That's all you need to know right there about how well this team is playing right now. 

No. 4 Lincoln Memorial | Previous: 8: The Railsplitters have been on absolute fire, winners of 16 in a row with one of the top offenses in DII men's basketball, scoring 92.8 points per game. They beat teams by 22.5 points per game, so defense doesn't seem to be a problem either. All five players that get regular minutes score in double figures — there are just so many weapons. While they haven't played the toughest of schedules, the eye test reigns here as this is one of the deepest teams in the division.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: 11 teams off to pleasantly unexpected starts in 2022-23

No. 5 Augusta | Previous: 8: The reigning runners-up are on fire, winners of their last 10. The Jaguars picked up a huge Peach Belt Conference win against nationally ranked Young Harris since the last Power 10, beating their foes by 21 points. Tyshaun Crawford is, unsurprisingly, a Bevo Francis candidate leading the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks, posting statistics which put him among the best in the division.

No. 6 Colorado School of Mines | Previous: 10 (tied): I like what's happening in Golden, Colorado. The Orediggers have a nice blend of talent, solid on both sides of the ball and disposing of the opposition by nearly 20 points per game. Brendan Sullivan has long been one of the best in DII, and continues to lead the way, but it's transfers Sam Beskind (Stanford) and Adam Thistlewood (Colorado State) who find themselves on the Bevo Francis Top 100. That shows you what kind of depth this team has. One loss to conference rival Black Hills State in overtime is the only blemish on their record. 

No. 7 Black Hills State | Previous: 4: Did someone say Black Hills State? The Yellow Jackets dropped their first game since last year's national semifinals, and to be fair it was against a very good Colorado Mesa team that has found its way into the national rankings. I'm not sure when the RMAC became a basketball powerhouse, but here we are with four teams in the top 25. That shows what kind of toughness the Yellow Jackets have, navigating a tough schedule with a 14-1 record and one of the best players in DII in Joel Scott.   

All Stats Team: A starting five of box-score stuffers for December

No. 8 Northwest Missouri State | Previous: 3: The Bearcats dropped that game to Central Oklahoma and now have two losses to top-25 competition within the MIAA. So what? Last year, when the sky seemed to be falling and I knocked the Bearcats to the "First five out" they went on a run and never lost again. That said, two losses are two losses, and, especially when the expectations are sky high in Maryville, the Bearcats stumble a bit... for now.

No. 9 Hillsdale | Previous: 10 (tied): The Chargers rebounded from a tough loss and have reeled off four straight wins, now sitting at 16-1 on the season. There is just such balance among this starting five that they seem very dangerous and prepared for a sneaky big run. With UMSL slipping a bit, the Chargers are the team to beat in the Midwest at the moment, and each win helps separate them from the pack. There is a long way to go, though, so let's see how Hillsdale handles the rigors of late- season hoops.

No. 10 West Liberty | Previous: 7: I'm keeping the Hilltoppers in the top 10 despite the recent blowout, and that's mainly because what I think of Fairmont State (more on them in a bit). This team lost three big-time performers from last year's squad, and there were some bumps and bruises expected along the way. To be 14-2, and with just the one loss in conference shows to me this team is gelling just fine. Having Bryce Butler continue to play at an elite level certainly helps. 

First five out (in alphabetical order):

  • Bentley: The Falcons are 14-1 and are making it tough on anyone in the East Region to catch them for the No. 1 seed. This team has some scorers as Zach Laput (20.9 points per game) leads a starting five that all scores more than 11 points nightly.
  • Fort Lewis: The Skyhawks keep winning and Akuel Kot keeps scoring. A huge test lies ahead as they face Colorado Mesa and Colorado School of Mines in a week's span.
  • Point Loma: Kaden Anderson is an absolute beast and after a rough start to the season, this team is rolling, winners of 12 straight. The Sea Lions and Cal State San Bernardino are going to make things fun out West. 
  • UNC Pembroke: The Braves have won 10 in a row and are now 17-1 on the year. They are doing it with solid defense and a very nice balanced attack on offense. 
  • West Virginia State:  The Yellow Jackets have one loss by two points to West Liberty this year. Otherwise, this team is cruising, now 15-1 with a potent offense that scores 91 point per game. 

Team to watch: Fairmont State —  I had Fairmont State ranked highly this preseason and a tough three-game run in early December saw them fall from people's radars. The Fighting Falcons have righted the ship and are 8-1 since, with the one loss coming in overtime to nationally ranked Virginia Union. Throw in the largest defeat of West Liberty since 2018, and this team is trending in the right direction in the new year. 

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