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Wayne Cavadi | | February 21, 2023

Minnesota Duluth skyrockets up the DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings

Glenville State wins DII Women's Basketball Championship

Conference championships are upon us and it's crunch time in the DII women's basketball season. While the "Big Three" — Ashland, Drury and Tampa — hold tight. the rest of the Power 10 rankings saw some shaking up over the past two weeks. 

This week, we also see the first regional rankings seeded in order, giving a preview of what the bracket will look like. Remember, every conference champion earns an automatic bid to the DII women's basketball tournament which means nothing is guaranteed right now. I took a look at some teams ready to make a mess of the regional rankings come the selection show. 

While the Power 10 does weigh regional rankings heavily, it also allows for the traditional eye test, trying to blend both into a top-10 rankings all its own. 

The sixth DII women’s Power 10 rankings of the regular season (Note: All games through Feb. 20)

No. 1 Ashland | Previous: 1: The Eagles are cruising right now, the lone undefeated team in DII women's basketball sitting at a perfect 27-0. They have a top-three scoring offense and are stomping the competition by 28.1 points per game, best in DII. They are also tops in assists per game, field-goal percentage, and assist-to-turnover ratio. Whether you look at regional metrics, simple statistical leaders, or the Eagles' record, this is the unquestioned No. 1 team in the land. 

No. 2 Drury | Previous: 2: At the time of press, Drury has two winnable games remaining on the regular-season slate. It is worth noting that one of those games is against a Lewis team that gave the Panthers one of their toughest conference games of the season. Still, at 25-1 (reminder: that one loss is to Ashland), this is one of the teams to beat with a top-five scoring offense and three big-time weapons leading the way.

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No. 3 Tampa | Previous: 3: All the Spartans did this past weekend was defeat nationally ranked Eckerd and Nova Southeastern (which sits right behind Tampa and Eckerd in the SSC) solidifying their spot as the current No. 1 in the South. Now 25-1 and winners of 14 in a row, the Spartans score points with one of the best shooting rosters in DII women's basketball (second to Ashland). Last year, Tampa was upset in the first round of the tournament, and it looks like it is on a mission to ensure that doesn't happen again.

No. 4 Minnesota Duluth | Previous: First five out: Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly: The Bulldogs jump from the "First five out" all the way to No. 4, and when you break it down it's pretty clear to see why. Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Kearney, Central Missouri, and Minnesota State are four of the best teams in DII women's basketball and they all lurk in the Central Region. Minnesota Duluth, sitting at 24-3, is the best team statistically by a pretty significant margin over all three of those teams (keep in mind, each one sits in the top 15 in the national poll). This team is tested and ready for March, and in that region... they need to be.

No. 5 Glenville State | Previous: 6: The Pioneers have a tremendous matchup on Feb. 22 against Charleston (WV) which could change their spot both here and in the MEC. Charleston is one of Glenville State's two losses this season and a season sweep by the Golden Eagles will go a long way down the stretch. Still, the Pioneers are defending their crown very admirably as the top team in the Atlantic and the second-best scoring offense in DII women's basketball. At this point, they have the metrics and statistics (and record) to earn this lofty ranking, and avenging their lone loss will secure the No. 1 spot in the Atlantic. 

No. 6 Grand Valley State | Previous: 7: The Lakers and Michigan Tech are very close for that third spot in the very tricky Midwest Region. That's why their 17-point win over the Huskies, one in which the Lakers held Michigan Tech to a season-low 43 points, looms large right now. The Lakers dominate defensively, with the second-best scoring defense in DII women's basketball, and part of the way they do that is by preventing second-chance points by keeping opponents off the glass with the best rebounding margin in the division. The Midwest is stacked, so Grand Valley State picking up big wins this time of year is huge.

No. 7 Cal State Dominguez Hills | Previous: 10: The Toros are the best in the West, and that's impressive considering there are teams like national runners-up Western Washington, Cal State San Marcos, Montana State Billings, and Azusa Pacific all tournament hungry. In fact, it was a commanding 10-point victory over the Cougars that boosts the Toros up the Power 10 and locks them in my top spot for the West Region. This is just hands down one of the best, arguably the best, stories in DII, with the 25-1 Toros atop the region coming off a 13-12 season. It's one of the largest single-season turnarounds in recent history.

No. 8 Western Washington | Previous: 4: I'm not penalizing the Vikings too much, and they still may be the top seed in the West. But a two-point loss to nationally ranked Montana State Billings does see them fall just a tad. Make no mistake, this team can hang with the best in the division with a .547 strength of schedule, 33.1 performance indicator, and .637 RPI. Having Brooke Walling average nearly a double double per night with 45 blocks in 24 games also helps a lot. 

No. 9 Nebraska-Kearney | Previous: First five out: The Lopers eke it out, just fractions higher than their MIAA foes below. If you look at the selection metrics (strength of schedule, PI and RPI) we are talking decimals separating the two. Oh, and naturally, the two Central Region heavyweights split the season series. The Lopers have a bit of recency bias in their favor, evening the series with the Jennies last week and extending their winning streak to 16 games. Since UNK edges out Central Missouri right now in the regional rankings (and has the fourth-best scoring defense in DII women's basketball), it gets the edge here as well.

No. 10 (tie) Central Missouri and Eckerd| Previous 9 and 8 respectively: The explanation for why the Jennies are No. 10 really lies in the above ranking of UNK. They have three losses, all against very tough teams, but two of those losses are against teams they have also beaten. For Eckerd, yes, they are the lone four-loss team in the Power 10, but they also have 21 wins against the second-toughest schedule in DII (not the region, mind you, the entire division) and have a better RPI than Tampa. This team is very good and with the SSC tournament still in play, Tampa doesn't have a sure lock at the No. 1 seed come March 5.

ALL-STATS TEAM: A dream starting five of the best stats through January

First five out (in alphabetical order)

  • Catawba
  • Gannon
  • Michigan Tech
  • Minnesota State
  • Texas Woman's

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