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Wayne Cavadi | | January 10, 2021

DII Report: Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 go down in men's basketball as the DII women's Power 10 rankings debut

No. 10 Findlay knocks off No. 23 Hillsdale on game-winning buzzer-beater

Who's No. 1? Well, that's a question that won't be answered until Tuesday in DII men's basketball after four of the top 5 ranked teams all lost in a span of 72 hours. We will be able to answer that in DII women's basketball though, as the Power 10 rankings make their 2021 debut.

SPOILER ALERT! Drury, who extended its winning streak to a DII-best 40 games, is No. 1.

UPSET CITY: How Washburn took down No. 1 Northwest Missouri State

From great individual performances to impressive team victories, there was plenty that went down on the hardwood this past week. Kick back, relax and let's go around the world of DII college basketball in this week's DII Report. 

Who's No. 1?

Can Northwest Missouri State hold onto the No. 1 spot considering No. 2 Lincoln Memorial, No. 3 West Texas A&M and No. 5 Washburn also lost in DII men's basketball this past week? I can't answer that, but the Colorado School of Mines, Findlay and Northern State will certainly have some choice words on the topic.

No. 5 Washburn rolled into Maryville, MO. a perfect 7-0 on Thursday, January 7. The Ichabods left Maryville a perfect 8-0, claiming their first victory over the Bearcats in their last 12 tries. For Northwest Missouri State, it was just its second loss in the last three seasons. That's not a typo, ladies and gentlemen.

Trevor Hudgins forced overtime with three free throws, but Washburn prevailed 84-82 for its first victory over a No. 1 ranked team since 2015. Per usual Tyler Geiman led the way with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Diego Bernard had a solid game for Northwest Missouri State, recording a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards.

Two days later, Washburn found itself in another top-25 showdown, this time against the upstart No. 22 Missouri Western Griffons. The Griffons briefly saw their eight-point halftime lead slip away, but were able to put the Bods away 74-68 and move to 8-1 on the season. Will Eames ripped off a double-double as four Griffons reached double digits.

No. 2 Lincoln Memorial saw its 39-game winning streak snapped by Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears R.J. Gunn was a player to watch coming into the season and he delivered on Saturday, dropping 20 points and going 4-for-5 from 3-point land. Darius Simmons chipped in a season-high 23 points as Lenoir-Rhyne hung on for the 89-83 victory. The Railsplitters' Cameron Henry was held in check, fouling out with nine points while Devin Whitfield dropped 21 to lead Lincoln Memorial.

Out in Texas, No. 21 DBU bounced back from a Friday night loss to No. 3 West Texas A&M by taking the Saturday showdown, 87-78. Chandler Jacobs, who has scored at least 22 points in five of his six games this year, scored 24 points as the Patriots erupted for a 58-31 second half to erase an 18-point first-half deficit. Jones put up one of two double-doubles for DBU as Jalen White added 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Let's be honest. Though the top teams fell, each one did so to very good basketball teams. Each will likely drop a bit in the rankings, but it should be minimal considering the teams to which they lost, and considering the 8-0 Orediggers didn't play on the wild Saturday, but could the Bearcats still be No. 1?

The aforementioned Mines may be the top contenders for the spot. This team is very good and as I said, undefeated. I really like Brendan Sullivan as a player of the year candidate, but the fact is this team is six or seven deep in highly-effective players. Northern State must also be in the mix. The Wolves clearly shook off the cobwebs from opening weekend and had much more commanding wins this past weekend, closing their weekend sweep with a 100-point performance. Parker Fox and Mason Stark are leading the way, but again, this is another team with experience and talent deep onto their bench. And let's not forget the Cardiac Kids, the undefeated Findlay Oilers. After last week's dramatic buzzer-beater to beat Hillsdale in a top-25 showdown, the Oilers moved to 6-0 with yet another victory in the final seconds. 

All eyes will be on the NABC poll come Tuesday.

DII women's basketball Power 10

The 2021 portion of this odd DII women's basketball season is underway. Drury is undefeated — because Drury is always undefeated — and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is underway, giving us two of the best teams in the land. 

Seems a perfect time for some rankings, don't you think?

A quick reminder. These are my rankings, and mine alone. I usually try to stick as closely to the same criteria that the selection committee uses come tournament time, but this is a much different season. That said, there will be some recency bias in play, and if there was a tight line to draw, I went with the red hot team over the one just getting started. 

Also note, these are only teams that currently are scheduled to hit the requirement for games played to become tournament eligible this March. Any teams in conferences not playing this season will not be included. 

1. Drury — The Panthers moved to 8-0 on the season and have now won 40 straight. Paige Robinson has been phenomenal, leading the team in points (21.3 per game), rebounds (7.1 per game) and assists (6.1 per game) but this is a balanced team. They will be on a temporary hold after coronavirus concerns, but this is still the team to beat. 

2. Ashland — The Eagles have a new look this season in personnel, but the finished product looked very familiar. Ashland came out and dominated its first quarter of play in nearly a year by jumping out to a 22-7 lead. Karlee Pireu and Hallie Heidemann look like a formidable scoring duo.

3. Lubbock Christian — How do you not have head coach Steve Gomez's team in the top 5? The Lady Chaps are a perennial contender and are off to a 4-0 start. Allie Schulte was expected to lead the team, and she's doing just that scoring 15.3 points per game with grabbing 6.0 rebounds per game. A big weekend series with Texas A&M-Commerce was postponed until February but it will tell us a lot about the Lone Star Conference.

4. Texas A&M - Commerce — Hey, didn't I just mention the Lions? I really like this team after an impressive 2019-20 season fueled by a stingy defense that allowed just 56.8 points per game. Dyani Robinson was good as a freshman and in her first two games this year as she took home LSC player of the week honors. If she can get healthy, this team is dangerous. 

5. Hawaii Pacific — Is it Jan. 16 yet? The Sharks are still waiting to tip-off DII play after a program-first victory over Division I Hawaii back in December. That took their winning streak to 26 games, the third-longest in DII. Amy Baum is a special player and could lead this team on another deep run, pairing with Olivia West as 20-point scorers in the game versus Hawaii. 

(NOTE: Here's where it gets razor thin. No. 10 can easily be No. 6 as this next tier is incredibly close.)

6. Nebraska-Kearney — The MIAA is a very tough division in women's basketball. There is only one undefeated team left and that is the No. 6 Lopers. UNK has disposed of the top three teams in the MIAA, defeating Emporia State, Fort Hays State and most-recently, taking down then-7-0 Central Missouri 68-56. This is a gritty team, with no one player scoring in double digits but five chipping in 7.9 points or more per game. Pair that with a defense that allows just 50.1 points per game and you have a dangerous squad.

7. Lander — The Bearcats are rolling off the momentum of last year's strong season and are off to a 4-0 start. They have a wealth of players that can score with Makaila Cange and Zamiya Passmore each leading the way with 15.8 points per game. 

8. North Georgia — This should make for a fun battle in the Peach Belt. The Nighthawks are always in the mix, and Julianne Sutton has been a large reason why. The senior forward is averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but it's the play of freshman Caroline Martin that has us really liking this team. She's averaging 17.7 points per game giving the Nighthawks quite a few players that can light up the scoreboard nightly.

9. Valdosta State — The Blazers were only an 18-win team a year ago, so their 7-0 start — including a win over perennial top-25 Lee — is quite impressive. So has been the play of their "Big Three". Kayla Bonilla is an electric and efficient scorer, putting up 17.3 points per game while shooting 59 percent from the floor. Kwajelin Farrar is locked in and nearly averaging a double-double per game. Alexandria Smith has shown she can board and score as well. This team looks good right now. 

10. Tusculum — Maddie Sutton returned to the double-double column (13 points, 19 rebounds) in a big win over Anderson (SC) to improve the Pioneers to 7-0. Tusculum has won 10 in a row dating back to last season, its longest win streak in a decade. With four players scoring in double figures nightly, this is a tough team to beat.

Just missed, and I mean JUST missed (in alphabetical order): Central Missouri, Colorado Mesa, Colorado School of Mines, Emporia State, Grand Valley State, Mercyhurst, Minnesota Duluth, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Walsh, Western Colorado, West Texas A&M

ICYMI: What else stood out this week in DII college basketball

  • How about the Minnesota State Mavericks men's team? They took down No. 14 Augustana (SD) on consecutive nights. Minnesota State is getting contributions by six players that make them difficult to defend. 
  • South Dakota Mines women's team had an impressive victory over then-5-0 Western Colorado. Michaela Shaklee led the way with 24 points and six rebounds.
  • Qua Grant (West Texas A&M) is having himself a nice little season, per usual. This past week he had the second triple-double of the DII men's basketball season. He went for 19, 10 and 10 in a 94-79 win over Oklahoma Baptist.
  • Welcome back, Fairmont State men's basketball. I told you the Falcons would be a team to watch and boy were they in their first game. They scored 110 points in the season opener and EIGHT players reached double figures.
  • Speaking of which, the Glenville State women's team is doing what they do best: scoring by the boatload. The Pioneers put up 126 in their opening victory as seven players reached double-digits in scoring. Re'Shawna Stone and Taychaun Hubbard led the way, combining for 43 points. 
  • Tusculum's men's team improved to 5-1 when leading scorer Trenton Gibson beat the buzzer on Saturday:
  • Can we talk about the red-hot Javelinas? Texas A&M-Kingsville is the first LSC team to seven wins amid a five-game winning streak. The LSC already had some stiff competition, adding another team to the mix should be fun.

There is a lot of action coming at you on Sunday, January 10. We'll get you caught up next week in the DII Report.

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