Welcome to 2022. We can put the first half of the season — and 2021 — in the rearview mirror as we head into the meat of conference schedules.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is once again wreaking havoc on schedules: There was a myriad of postponements in our Power 10, leaving many teams still waiting on a return to action in 2022. Because of the unexpected limited action, there wasn't a tremendous amount of movement in this first Power 10 of the new year, despite Lubbock Christian dropping a stunner to Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Here is your reminder for 2022: These are my rankings, and mine alone. I pair insight from coaches, SIDs and insiders with what the selection committee tends to look at come tournament time — strength of schedule, win-loss percentage and stats of that nature — to come up with a fair, albeit not perfect — version of the top 10. You can expect a new Power 10 every Wednesday until the DII women’s basketball tournament commences in March.
The DII women’s basketball Power 10 — all games through Jan. 4
No. 1 Drury | Previous: 1
The Panthers have played two games since taking over the No. 1 spot in the previous Power 10 rankings, winning by 48 and 17. Drury won without player of the year Paige Robinson on the shelf. In the bigger rout, Kaylee DaMitz and Alana Findley picked up the scoring in her absence, totaling 38 of the Panthers’ 90 points. We’re seeing why this team is No. 1: The depth is dangerous.
LOOKING BACK: The final Power 10 of 2021
No. 2 Fort Hays State | Previous: 7
I admittedly dropped the Tigers too low after their first loss of the season. Despite having their first game of 2022 postponed, the Tigers make a big leap this week because of what the team has racked up thus far. This team checks multiple boxes: it has played the 25th strongest schedule in DII, is 8-1 in one of the toughest regions in DII women’s basketball and has a starting five that is all averaging in double figures. This team is strong and another tough matchup awaits against Central Missouri later this week.
No. 3 Texas A&M-Commerce | Previous: 4
There is not much new to report here as the Lions’ first two post-break games were postponed. The last time out, the Lions improved to 11-0 in a game in which they scored 99 points with two players — DesiRay Kernal and Dyani Robinson — posting double-doubles. This team is 53-7 over the past three years and it looks like, barring injury, they are once again rolling to a tournament berth. The big test begins with the heart of the Lone Star Conference schedule, easily one of the strongest conferences in DII the past few seasons.
2021 RECAP: Lubbock Christian repeats as national champions
No. 4 Lander | Previous: 3
The Bearcats did have one game canceled but opened the new year with a 39-point conference victory, showing there was no rust from the winter break. Lander is now 9-1, is thumping opponents by an average of 23.1 points per game and look unbeatable with Makaila Cangé and Zamiya Passmore dominating the game. Combined, the duo contributes 41.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.3 steals per game.
No. 5 Lubbock Christian | Previous: 2
Where most teams are trying to get on the court for the first time since the break, the Chaps have already played twice. One of those was a stunning loss to 8-4 Texas A&M-Kingsville in which they only mustered 42 points. But let’s face reality. LCU has played a very tough schedule and even in its latest loss, that smothering top-10 scoring defense allowed only 59 points. Bouncing back and dominating a then-10-1 Texas A&M International team 62-48 shows that the loss was a mere blip on the radar.
2021 STORYLINES: 10 things you missed from the fall of 2021
No. 6 Western Washington | Previous: 5
The Vikings got one more dominating victory before the calendar flipped to 2022, handing an 18-point loss to Western Oregon. They are now 10-0 on the year, with a 7-0 record in region and a pair of wins against top 25 opponents, including a 73-57 rout over Azusa Pacific earlier this season. Western Washington has the third-best scoring defense in DII and a depth of talent contributing in many different ways.
No. 7 Glenville State | Previous: 6
The Pioneers are still awaiting their return to the court but sit at 10-0 and score 98.5 points per game, the top mark in DII women’s basketball by nearly an eight-point margin. Considering Glenville State is 50-6 in Mountain East Conference play over the past three seasons, we should see this offense fly over the next few months and continue to rack up the wins now that MEC play is underway.
HISTORY: The programs with the most titles
No. 8 Nebraska-Kearney | Previous: 8
The Lopers dropped an early season loss to Southwest Minnesota State and have been rolling ever since. They are on a 10-game winning streak, including a 6-0 start in the MIAA with signature wins over Central Oklahoma and then-No. 1 Fort Hays State. Nebraska-Kearney opened the new year with a victory as Trinity Law put up a season-high 23 points on an impressive 7-for-12 shooting. This team has different weapons that can take you down nightly.
No. 9 Ashland | Previous: 9
The Eagles' women’s teams have had quite the transition to their new conference. The women’s soccer team went unbeaten to claim its first G-MAC title and the women’s volleyball team won its division. Now, the women’s basketball team is off to a 6-0 start in G-MAC play, including wins over 2020-21 champion Cedarville and most recently over 2019-20 champion Walsh. Perhaps the most impressive part is that it seems as if Ashland is still getting better. A huge showdown with Kentucky Wesleyan this weekend will show us more.
No. 10 Eckerd | Previous: NR
The Tritons got a huge signature win coming out of the break, downing Tampa — previously in the “first five out” — 51-50, to remain undefeated overall on the year. Eckerd makes the jump because it marks off a lot of the criteria. It has played one of the toughest schedules in DII, has two wins against top-25 competition and has the second-best scoring defense in DII. Maya Price and Sofia Persson have been pretty impressive in all aspects of the game.
First five out (in alphabetical order):
- Alaska Anchorage: The Seawolves have been very good this year. Unfortunately, the last game they played was a loss before the break and they have been dealing with cancellations since. A return to action may also be a return to the top 10.
- Azusa Pacific: The only thing holding the Cougars out of the Power 10 is the strength of schedule. This starting five is stacked and experienced and the bench is deep and very good.
- Colorado School of Mines: This team jumps into the “first five out” amid a nine-game winning streak. The Orediggers have played two post-break games and won both convincingly. Their lone loss is to UNK, making them perfect in the South Central region as well.
- Grand Valley State: The Lakers haven’t played since 2021, which is why they drop out of the top 10, but I am still very high on this team. They have played a schedule with a combined .553 winning percentage and their lone loss is to a very under-the-radar Saginaw Valley State team by six points.
- Indiana (Pa) and North Georgia: Yes, I understand that this makes the “first five out” six teams, but both IUP and North Georgia have been on the shelf since mid-December. North Georgia hopes to return to action this week whereas the Crimson Hawks are postponed through Jan. 12. Talent wise, there is no question these are both top-15 teams — they simply need to return to action.