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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | January 19, 2022

There's a new No. 1 in the DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings

Wayne Cavadi's top second-half storylines for DII women's basketball

Down goes No. 1. Drury, which held the top spot in our DII women’s basketball Power 10 rankings for all 2022. The Panthers dropped a stunning Monday night to Truman State. That means we have a new No. 1 in DII.

RANKINGS: Last week's Power 10

Drury wasn’t alone. Lubbock Christian dropped a big Lone Star Conference game to Texas A&M-Commerce and the Lions are back in the Power 10 after a one-week hiatus. Western Washington saw its undefeated season come to an end with its first loss but Alaska Anchorage couldn’t capitalize in the standings, losing a game itself. For the second-straight week, our Power 10 will have a bold new look.

Remember: These are my rankings, and mine alone. I pair the basic stats — like overall record and statistical rankings — with insight from coaches and insiders, and when it gets too close to call, I turn to those analytics — such as strength of schedule, in-region record and RPI to name a few — that the selection committee uses come March. You can expect a new Power 10 every Wednesday until the DII women’s basketball tournament commences.

The DII women’s basketball Power 10 — all games through Jan. 17

No. 1 Fort Hays State | Previous: 2

The Tigers are rolling, winners of eight in a row. They picked up another big win this past week, taking down No. 22 Missouri Western by 13 points. Katie Wagner stuffed the stat sheet as usual, putting up a double-double going for 19 and 11. Fort Hays State has as strong a resume as any team in DII, winning games by nearly 18 points per game with a balanced attack on offense and defense. Circle Jan. 29 on your calendar: The Tigers look to avenge their lone loss to Nebraska-Kearney on the road.

STARTING FIVE: The first DII women's basketball all-stats team of the season

No. 2 Glenville State | Previous: 3

There are just three undefeated teams in DII women’s basketball and the Pioneers are the best of the trio. They are now scoring above the century mark — 101.0 points per game to be precise — and are in the heart of division play. Glenville State has dominated the MEC in recent years and this week is a tall order. If the Pioneers can get through West Virginia State and Concord, two of the top teams in the conference, they have a good chance to run the regular season table.

2021 STORYLINES: 10 things you missed from the fall of 2021

No. 3 Ashland | Previous: 7

The Eagles continue to dominate their new conference, now a perfect 8-0 in the G-MAC and winning those games by an average of 21.1 points per game. They are near the top of the tricky Midwest Region in nearly every category that matters come tournament time. Karlee Pireu and Hallie Heidemann continue to be the experienced veterans this team needs to make a run in March.

No. 4 Drury | Previous: 1

I’m not dropping the Panthers too far. They have played a schedule with a .591 combined winning percentage and are 18-2 with one of the best players in DII, Paige Robinson, recovering from injury. Drury has played a few wild games of late, posting big comebacks, and sometimes those runs catch up to you, as it did when the Panthers fell by one point to Truman on Monday. By the numbers, this is still one of the best teams in the land.

HISTORY: The programs with the most titles

No. 5 North Georgia | Previous: 8

The Nighthawks have won seven in a row, the last two without second-leading scorer Caroline Martin. That shows how balanced this team is on both sides of the floor. The big win over Lander last week boosts them to the top of many selection criteria and numbers, and there’s little reason to expect this team to slow down any time soon. This is a team that has been to the PBC championship game four years in a row — winning three — with four NCAA tournament berths over the same span. Another March seems inevitable.

No. 6 Texas A&M-Commerce | Previous: First five out

Last week, the Lions fell to then-9-7 and unranked West Texas A&M, bumping them from the Power 10. Taking down Lubbock Christian is as good a way to return to the power rankings as there is. It was a good one, too, with the Lions’ defense prevailing: A huge block from freshman Dorian Norris sealed the 66-62 victory. There’s no time to celebrate unfortunately. Four of the Lions’ next five games are against teams with winning records.

No. 7 Lander | Previous: 9

The Bearcats are back on the rise after falling five spots last week following their loss to North Georgia. Yes, this is a two-loss team ahead of several one-loss teams, but put it into perspective: Those two losses came at the hands of Lubbock Christian and North Georgia by a total of five points. Zamiya Passmore appears to be a little dinged up after their last victory, so having the fourth-leading scorer in DII on the shelf for a sustained absence could certainly hurt this team. There is still a lot of depth and Lander has earned the right to be this high until proven otherwise.

No. 8 Lubbock Christian | Previous: 3

I have zero problem having a three-loss team in my top 10. Here’s why. The Chaps have played the toughest schedule in the South Central Region, sitting at 14-3 with the top PI and RPI in the entire region per Inkblot Sports' latest updates. When you add in the fact that there is a slew of returning experience from both of the last two title runs, this is not a team that shies away from adversity but embraces it. When it comes to a program that has the historical track record of Lubbock Christian, these are merely speed bumps on the road to March.

TOURNEY FAQ: The essential guide to the DII women's basketball championship

No. 9 Grand Valley State | Previous: 10

I was higher than most on the Lakers last week, and being that they didn’t lose this week, they keep moving up. As the cliche goes, defense wins championships. It was the case last season when Lubbock Christian’s top-scoring defense prevailed, and Grand Valley State hopes it is the case this year as well. The Lakers lead DII by more than a full point and haven’t allowed more than 60 points since Nov. 21 (it was 61 points allowed that day).

No. 10 Nebraska-Kearney | Previous: First five out

The Lopers fell to a very good and under-the-radar Central Missouri team, but rebounded with a 12-point win against a Missouri Western team that is certainly in the NCAA tournament conversation. Now 14-2 with the top scoring defense in the MIAA and a win against the No. 1 team in DII women’s basketball on their resume, the Lopers are going to be a tough team to beat the rest of the way.

First five out (in alphabetical order):

  • Alaska Anchorage: The Seawolves had an opportunity to make up ground on Western Washington but fell to MSU Billings. This team is still very good and is a tournament contender.
  • Azusa Pacific: This team hasn’t lost since November, has three players scoring in double figures nightly and is loaded with tournament experience.
  • Colorado School of Mines: The Orediggers have won 10 in a row, but they have a big game ahead: Colorado Mesa comes to town Friday in a game that can flip the way the “first five out” looks next week.
  • Eckerd: Despite picking up their first loss, the Tritons have a great selection resume building. They bounced back from their first loss with a 10-point victory looking to start a new winning streak.
  • Western Washington This was difficult, and probably an unjust drop from No. 4 last week to outside the Power 10. Yes, the Vikings lost their first game of the season, but it really comes down to this: That was their first and only game of 2022. Western Washington has the numbers that the selection committee likes, but the truth of the matter is it has played one game in the past three weeks. I need to see that this is the same team that ended 2021 undefeated before the Vikings jump back in the top 10.

New teams you better start paying attention to: Last week, we mentioned Colorado Mesa, Kutztown, undefeated Savannah State and Wingate, which should all remain on your radar. This week, you may want to add Cal State East Bay, Southern Indiana, Union (TN) and West Florida to your list of potential surprise teams come March.

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