An historic DII women’s basketball tournament has concluded and Glenville State is the 2022 national champion. The Pioneers won not only their first-ever championship, but the title was the first in the school’s history for any sport. That earns the Pioneers the honor of being the No. 1 team in the final DII women’s basketball Power 10 rankings of the season.
The Power 10 rankings are a little different than a national poll. First, there isn’t a group voting, as these are my rankings, and mine alone. That means that simple metrics (overall records and categorical trends) are obviously used, but so is the same criteria that the selection committee uses: RPI, performance indicator, and others. While the DII Women’s Elite Eight teams will highly populate the final rankings, remember: one game does not a season make. March is a different beast, so just because a team lost at the buzzer doesn’t necessarily mean it still isn’t one of the best teams in the country.
The final DII women’s basketball Power 10 for 2022
No. 1 Glenville State | Previous No. 2
Perhaps what’s most amazing is that this team went 35-1 and had to consistently prove itself in the national polls. This team — which led DII women’s basketball in scoring by 13.5 points per game over the next closest team — went 29-0 before losing and was not the No. 1 team for most of that run. After that loss to Charleston (WV) in the MEC title game, the Pioneers took it personal, winning each of their six NCAA DII tournament games by an average of 24.1 points and setting the single-tournament record for points scored. After watching what Re’Shawna Stone did in her tournament MVP performance… she may very well be the best player in DII.
No. 2 Western Washington | Previous: NR
This was probably a lot closer between Grand Valley State and the Vikings than you think. Here’s what it came down to: Western Washington defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 team in its region to get to the Elite Eight and then upset No. 1 North Georgia for the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Glenville State. In fact, after the Vikings opening-round victory over arch-rival Alaska Anchorage, Western Washington was the lower-seeded team in every game it played. That is quite the resume.
2022 TOURNEY: Round-by-round recap | Interactive bracket
No. 3 Grand Valley State | Previous: 3
The Lakers were a very good team and despite not being the No. 1 seed in Birmingham, Ala., they were every bit a contender as No. 1 North Georgia. This was the top defense in DII pretty much from wire to wire and took down two nationally ranked top-15 teams in their own region to get to the DII Women’s Elite Eight. There, it held Missouri Western to a mere 44 points before falling to Glenville State in the semifinals, and don’t forget — the Lakers led at the half. The Midwest Region is the best in DII women’s basketball in this sports writer’s opinion — any team that comes out of there alive is a top-3 team in the country, full stop.
No. 4 North Georgia | Previous: 7
The Nighthawks have reached modern day powerhouse status. This was the team’s second trip to the DII Women’s Elite Eight in the past three tournaments, and there’s not much reason to think this run is coming to an end any time soon. North Georgia will always have to pass the Lander litmus test in its own conference, which it did this season, beating the perennial top-10 team three times, including in the Southeast Region championship. That region was very deep and tricky — the Nighthawks weren’t the No. 1 seed in Birmingham by accident.
TOURNEY FAQ: The essential guide to the DII women's basketball championship
No. 5 Union (TN) | Previous: 1
Go ahead and get the boo birds out. Yes, the Bulldogs lost to Valdosta State in the South Region finals, but how good were they up until that point? Union reeled off 25 straight wins, which included an 18-0 romp through a tough Gulf South Conference, the GSC regular season and tournament title and a win over that same Valdosta State team. As great a season that the Blazers had heading into the tournament, Union’s RPI and PI were on another level than any other team in the South and well ahead of Valdosta State.
No. 6 Fort Hays State | Previous: 6
Here is another team coming in higher than other DII Women’s Elite Eight teams, including the one the Tigers lost to in the Central Region championship. Missouri Western was a team on a mission and played its best basketball of the season in March, but that same Griffon team lost six of nine heading into the Central Region tournament. Conversely, the Tigers were a power from start to finish and held the No. 1 spot in every ranking or poll several times this season. If it weren’t for one of the, historically speaking, greatest comebacks in tournament history, this team could have played for a national championship.
No. 7 Valdosta State | Previous: NR
Now the Blazers get their due, and it is well deserved. This was a fun and gritty team to watch and the GSC-leading defense really came alive when it mattered most. The Blazers held Tampa to 50, Lee to 44 and Union to 58 in winning the South Region, and all three of those teams are no strangers to the national rankings. Valdosta State took Western Washington to the buzzer and have an interesting young core that appears ready to keep this success moving in the right direction.
No. 8 West Texas A&M | Previous: First five out
It was just a remarkable season turned in by the Buffs. In his first season at the helm, head coach Josh Prock had a lineup that wasn’t very senior heavy and void of last season’s top-three scorers. This team caught fire down the stretch, not only defeating Lubbock Christian in the Lone Star Conference semifinals, but taking down the two-time defending champs again to win the South Central Region. If the bulk of this team returns, they are in good shape moving forward.
No. 9 Missouri Western | Previous: NR
The Griffons had a March to remember with three memorable wins in the Central Region tournament. They thumped No. 2-seeded Southwestern Oklahoma State by dropping 111 points in the opening round — the most points scored in a game this tournament. They then came from 21 down to defeat Fort Hays State and headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1995. Most astonishingly, this team had a mere six wins last season. There was a lot of youth on this team. We may be seeing the start of something special.
No. 10 Cal State East Bay | Previous: First five out
There was very little that separated this spot from the "first five out." What it came down to was the metrics. Now, even those aren’t entirely accurate because the Pioneers didn’t share many, if any, common opponents with the "first five out" being in the isolated West, but the numbers were too strong to overlook. CSUEB posted a .624 RPI and a 34.08 PI all against a DII strength of schedule of .527. That’s pretty impressive.
HISTORY: Programs with the most national championships
First five (ish) out (in alphabetical order):
The next seven teams were so close in figuring out the final "first five out," as a bonus, there are an extra two teams in these final rankings of 2022.
- Ashland: As already mentioned, the Midwest Region was an absolute beast once again and Ashland entered the tournament as the top seed. This team seems to lose DII women’s basketball elite players annually and doesn’t miss a beat.
- Drury: It was an odd season for Drury, battling key injuries and COVID, but the Panthers still made it to the regional semifinals. Paige Robinson has already entered the transfer portal, so we will see some new faces next season. You can feel pretty confident they will be very good players.
- Lander: Want to know how good this team was? The Bearcats lost Zamiya Passmore, one of the leading scorers in all DII women’s basketball, and still made it all the way to the regional championship game. What a job head coach Kevin Pederson has done in building a power program.
- Lubbock Christian: Like Drury, it was an odd season for the three-time national champions. A DII Women’s Elite Eight without the Chaps seems incomplete. The bottom line is the LSC was absolutely stacked this season and LCU still won 28 games.
- Pace: The Setters had a remarkable run, one of three No. 7 seeds to make the Elite Eight (and picked by this writer to do so). Lauren Schetter was just a fantastic player to watch, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks.
- Texas A&M-Commerce:The Lions fell short by one point in the Lone Star Conference championship game before falling by two points in the loaded South Central semifinals. They were literally two baskets away from being an Elite Eight threat.
- Walsh: Ashland, which is on this list, had three losses this season. Two came at the hands of Walsh. The Cavaliers have become a perennial threat and now that Ashland moved to the G-MAC, we should have the beginnings of one of the best rivalries in DII women’s hoops.