This past week, the DII men's and women's basketball regional rankings were released. Do you know what that means, DII sports fans? For the first time in almost a year, we have a national championship just a few short weeks away.
If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will. Maybe a look at the latest DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings, some thrilling top-25 action from the men's side and taking a look at the week that was in DII baseball will do the trick?
Sit back and relax. I've got you covered in this week's DII Report.
The latest DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings
Last time we checked in on the DII women's Power 10, we had a new No. 1 in undefeated Lubbock Christian. This week, the Lady Chaps maintain their top spot as the first regional rankings were released. Now, these were regional rankings unlike any other: due to the disparity in games played and insufficient data for what is normally used for ranking the regions, teams were listed alphabetically as "under consideration" for the special 2021 regions.
That doesn't influence this week's Power 10 because, naturally, all 10 teams are under consideration. That said, the next women's Power 10 rankings will come out on the cusp of the 2021 DII basketball championship, when we'll know a lot more about how those regional rankings play out.
While the top three teams held strong, there was quite the shakeup in these latest rankings. Former No. 4 Charleston (WV)'s surprising undefeated run was halted at 13 in a loss to Concord, while Minnesota Duluth and Arkansas Tech both saw the perfect starts also come to an end. West Texas A&M dropped back-to-back stunners to Cameron as well, and now has three losses on the season.
But wait, there's more. Carson-Newman, which came in at No. 9 last time, fell to Limestone. The Saints outscored the Eagles 44-31 in the second half to pull away. And let's not forget No. 19 Michigan Tech taking one from Grand Valley State at the buzzer on a game-winner by Ellie Mackay. Grand Valley State is No. 9 in the WBCA poll and was just outside our rankings last time.
So how does this week's Power 10 look?
1. Lubbock Christian — The Lady Chaps had a big showdown with Texas A&M-Commerce canceled due to the winter storm, but improved to 12-0 with a dominating win over Texas-Permian Basin, 74-43. That's just more of the same from Lubbock Christian, which leads DII in scoring defense (44.7 points per game) and margin of victory, winning games by an average of 31 points per game.
2. Lander — Another week, another pair of dominating wins for the Bearcats. They have a really talented starting five, with each player contributing more than eight points per game. Makaila Cange is having a monster season, averaging 18.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
3. Drury — The Lady Panthers are now 14-1 and a real offensive juggernaut. They're averaging an even 91 points per game since their first loss in nearly two seasons, and are third overall in DII. Paige Robinson continues to lead the way, with per game averages of 22.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
4. Hawaii Pacific — The Sharks are now 9-0 after an absolutely dominating 95-37 victory on Wednesday. This team has some serious scoring ability with five players averaging double-figures. Olivia West paces the bunch with 20.2 points per game. The Sharks rank second in DII for margin of victory, beating opponents by an average of 29.7 points per game.
5. Fort Hays State — Yes indeed, I have the Tigers rising from honorable mention all the way up to No. 5. It's true, they have two losses and jump several one-loss teams, but they're playing sound basketball at the right time, winners of their last 13 straight. The most recent victory was by nine points over a very good (and top-25) Central Missouri team.
6. Charleston (WV) — The Golden Eagles' program record 13-0 start came to an end at the hands of Concord. They had an absolutely abysmal night shooting, finishing 22-for-79, which is not particularly characteristic of a team that was shooting over 45 percent heading into the game. I'm going to consider it an anomaly against a Concord team that defends well, because they have two players in Brooklyn Pannell and Erykah Russell that can take over a game.
7. North Georgia — The Nighthawks are now 14-1 and that one loss came to No. 2 Lander in overtime. This team is really good, as they have five players averaging more than 9.9 points per game. Julianne Sutton and Caroline Martin are a fun duo to watch.
8. Valdosta State — The Blazers stand at 16-2 after finishing 18-11 a year ago. Every time the Blazers hit the top 10, we have to mention the play on Kayla Bonilla and Kwajalein Farrar. The two are combining for 28.4 points per game on a team winning its games by almost 14 points per contest.
9. Minnesota Duluth — The Bulldogs slipped and lost their first game of the season, but quickly bounced back with a victory on Saturday. That gets them to 10-1, playing the 11 games needed to qualify for the tourney playing .910 basketball. Brooke Olson has been hot of late, scoring at least 22 points in three of her last four games. She's averaging 20 per game.
10. Grand Valley State — I know. It doesn't make make much sense to bump a team into the top 10 on the heels of its second loss of the season. But I'm super impressed with the play of the Lakers. Here's a team that essentially lost its starting five from arguably the greatest era in program history, and are now 13-2, losing both games by a combined six points. And don't underestimate Michigan Tech, who could still be underrated at No. 19.
First five out (in alphabetical order): Arkansas Tech, Carson-Newman, Glenville State, Texas A&M-Commerce, West Texas A&M
Top-25 showdowns take center stage in DII men's basketball
What a Saturday for DII men's basketball. Even with SAC rivals Lincoln Memorial and Queens (NC) having to cancel, three top-25 matchups went down, including NABC No.1 Colorado School of Mines vs. No. 7 Colorado Mesa. There will most certainly be a new No. 1 in the NABC after Mesa fought from behind to defeat the Orediggers.
To start the day, Mercyhurst — which came in at No. 5 in the last Power 10 — faced off against No. 21 Gannon in a battle of unbeatens. The Lakers remained that way, improving to 10-0 in an impressive 83-61 victory. MiyKah McIntosh scored 20 points to lead four Lakers in double figures. Mercyhurst's smothering defense was once again impressive, holding Gannon — which had been averaging over 81 points per game — to just 61, its season-low by quite a bit.
Last time Washburn and Northwest Missouri State squared off it was a top-5 battle. And boy, did they deliver as then-No. 5 Washburn handed the No. 1 Bearcats their first (and only) loss of the season in a thrilling 84-82 overtime victory. Round 2 was more of the same, but this time, the Bearcats got their revenge, winning 88-85 in overtime. Trevor Hudgins led all scorers with 28 points. The victory clinched the MIAA for Northwest Missouri State.
In the nightcap, No. 1 Colorado School of Mines held a 31-24 lead at the half, and opened it up to ten to start the second. But Mesa clawed its way back and dominated the second half, outscoring the Orediggers 40-27. Ethan Menzies and Georgie Dancer led all scorers with 17 points each for the Mavericks. Colorado Mesa and Colorado School of Mines are now atop the RMAC, each with one loss. The RMAC standings will be determined by RPI and these two are neck-and-neck for first place.
Around the horn: A look around our DII baseball top-25
Josh Elvir has only played one game since opening weekend, but Angelo State's superstar continues to make headlines. For the second year in a row, Elvir was named to the Golden Spikes preseason watchlist. If he can put together another Josh Elvir-type season, he has a real shot to end his career as the all-time leader in slugging percentage in college baseball, at any level.
Be sure to keep your eyes on the diamond Monday and Tuesday as Central Missouri takes on Davenport in a matchup between two teams that made our preseason top-25. Central Missouri is already 3-1 on the season after an impressive showing in Houston.
North Greenville swept a double-header on Saturday by a combined score of 21-1. Two players we were excited about in the preseason — the Crusaders John Michael Faile and Brady West — each launched homers in an 8-1 victory, as Logan Chapman filed another strong start. Faile made his presence known yet again, cranking another dinger in the nightcap and driving in four runs.
Welcome back, Cougars. Columbus State won its first two games in nearly a year on Saturday. Both games were probably closer than the Cougars would have liked, but wins are wins, especially coming off a long layoff. Robert Brooks had a monster day at the plate going 4-for-8 with two home runs and a triple. You have my attention, sir.
Catawba remained perfect, picking up a pair of wins against Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday. Hunter Shepherd got three more hits, scored three more runs and drove in two altogether on the day. That's not a bad day on the diamond, especially coming off a six-RBI performance in his last game.
Nolan Belcher picked up his first victory as head coach and Georgia College began the season 1-0 behind a 12-4 victory. Cassius Young, one of our preseason players to watch, smashed a two-run home run, joining Cam Hill and Noah Mendlinger in the homer brigade. Veteran Cal Gentry did what he does best: hit the ball. The senior began his final season with a 4-for-6 day.
What Parker Morrison is doing for North Georgia is simply remarkable. On Saturday, he tossed his third complete game of the season. He allowed his first two runs across, ballooning his ERA to a whopping 0.67. He's struck out at least 10 every time, now with 40 strikeouts in his three starts. Morrison was always on the radar as a promising arm ever since he was a freshman. It is great to see him put it all together so far.
UNC Pembroke moved to 3-0, but it took 12 innings to down USC Aiken 7-5. J.J. Oxendine and River Ryan were impressive out of the pen, combining to go five scoreless innings while striking out 11. Ethan Baucom went 2-for-5 with a big homer in the ninth out of the leadoff spot, but it was catcher Garrett Littleton who played the hero with a two-run single in the top of the 12th.
Carson Simpson had a ridiculous day at the plate in helping Wingate win two games and improve to 3-0 on the season. He had a game-tying sacrifice fly in the first game before knocking in seven runs on three hits in the nightcap.