A lot of DII college baseball was played this past week, and this writer, for one, is very excited. We’ll get you caught up on the top-25 action you may have missed.
All that, and a quick look around the world of DII sports in this week’s DII Report.
It’s tourney time… almost
The 2021 DII men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are starting to come together. While there are still some questions that remain, here’s what we know:
- There will be a tournament in 2021, albeit with a reduced field.
- There will be regional tournaments, albeit with modified regions and predetermined hosts.
- There are over 200 teams in the mix in both tournaments.
We took a look at what to expect in this year’s tournament and how the host sites will breakdown on the men’s and women’s sides. Click or tap below:
The DII men’s basketball Power 10 rankings
Another week of men’s basketball saw more stunning upsets. Findlay, which came in at No. 7 in our last rankings, has dropped three of four since, falling out of the Power 10. On Saturday, Newberry took down No. 4 Lincoln Memorial, 71-66, to pick up its sixth win of the season. That will drop the Railsplitters in the Power 10, but how far?
1. Northwest Missouri State — Yes, I continue to have a one-loss team ranked over two very good undefeated teams, but I think the Bearcats are still the team to beat in DII men’s basketball. They are rolling, winners of 12 in a row, and their Big Three are really playing good basketball right now. Trevor Hudgins is shooting 54.2 percent from the field, 54.9 percent from deep and 89.0 percent from the charity stripe to lead a very tough offense.
2. Colorado School of Mines — Well, that was close. The Orediggers erased a 13-point second-half deficit against Fort Lewis last week to remain undefeated. Brenden Sullivan, who has been so good all year, was especially strong in the comeback, dropping 20 of his 23 points in the second half. Mines has seen two significant layoffs due to COVID-19 concerns, so to remain undefeated is very impressive.
3. Northern State — Every time I mentioned Parker Fox at the beginning of the season, I was quickly reminded how deep this team was. And it’s true: Mason Stark, Tommy Chatman, Jordan Belka and Andrew Kallman round out a starting five of highly-efficient scorers and pretty stout defenders as well. But, Fox is putting up a player of the year campaign and continues to impress every night out. He’s now scored at least 20 points in 12 games this season and has two 30-point outbursts in his last four.
4. West Texas A&M — The Buffs have been dealing with a lot when it comes to postponements, but they never seem to miss a beat, which speaks volumes to their athleticism and experience. They improved to 9-1 this past weekend and are scoring 93.4 points per game, a serious juggernaut on the court. Since we talk about Qua Grant and Joel Murray all the time, and deservedly so, let’s talk about Jon’il Fugett, whose certainly an X-factor, bringing 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
5. Mercyhurst — I’m in big-time on the Lakers. We know this defense is ridiculously good, holding opponents to a DII-best 54.6 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting from the field. But guess what? They’ve now scored 90 points in each of their last three games. Now, come tourney time, that’s not how Mercyhurst will beat you: It does so by slowing the game down and suffocating the opposing offense. But the fact that the Lakers can put up big numbers to go with that D is a scary thought.
6. Truman — The Bulldogs hold strong at No. 6, improving to 14-1 since the last rankings. They struggled a bit with Quincy this weekend, but closed out the game in a dominating 21-8 performance to seal the victory. This team can flat out score, as all five starters are still averaging double figures this late into the season. Add in Hunter Straight, who averages 9.1 points per game, and they can beat you in so many ways.
7. Lubbock Christian — A reminder: The Chaps won 19 games a year ago. That makes their 14-0 start even more remarkable. The Feb. 25 and 27 showdowns with West Texas A&M are going to be big-time college basketball games. Parker Hicks, Lloyd Daniels and Rowan Mackenzie combine for 40.3 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. That’s good basketball right there.
8. Alabama Huntsville — There are so many ways to look at the past week. The Chargers were perfect to improve to 10-1 on the season. However, both games were very close, one needing double overtime to decide. That said, I was high on this team coming into the season, and that’s because they have so many weapons. JJ Kaplan is back in the mix and has been on fire his last four games, shooting 68 percent from the floor and chipping in just about eight rebounds per game.
9. Lincoln Memorial — Yes, I am keeping the Railsplitters in the top-10 over some very good teams — Colorado Mesa and Texas A&M-Kingsville come immediately to mind — despite having two losses. This is still a very good basketball team that can light up a scoreboard with 100 points easily. They have a difficult road to close out the regular season, so if they remain a two-loss team when it’s all said and done, this ranking is merited.
10. Hillsdale — This was almost too close to call. But the Chargers are an impressive 15-1 and make their Power 10 debut for 2021. That one loss came to Findlay at the buzzer, and they have since avenged that loss in an 82-71 fashion. Patrick Cartier is a very good scorer, averaging 19.7 points per game on 64.2 percent shooting. But he is no solo act: Hillsdale has four players putting up double figures nightly.
First five out (in alphabetical order): Colorado Mesa, DBU, Point Loma, St. Thomas Aquinas, Texas A&M-Kingsville
DII college basketball news and notes: What impressed me last week
Here are just a few things that caught my eye last week in both DII men’s and women’s basketball.
- Glenville State’s men’s team improved to 7-2 with a 131-point explosion this past week. John Williams scored 52 points, the single-game high at any level this season, while shooting 9-for-13 from deep.
- Daemen men’s basketball picked up its first win of the season, and superstar big man Andrew Sischo blew up for 42 points and 17 rebounds. He was joined by Sean Fasoyiro and Andrew Mason with double-doubles in the win.
- Cameron’s women’s basketball scored a big upset this past week, taking down top-10 Texas A&M-Commerce, 68-61. Whitney Outon led the charge with 17 points.
- The Jennies are rolling, now 16-2 and winners of nine in a row. That includes a top-25 women’s hoops showdown with Emporia State last week in which the Jennies prevailed 79-72. Nija Collier and Brooke Littrell both posted double-doubles in the big win.
- Southern Nazarene held Southwestern Oklahoma State to just 32 percent shooting in upsetting the Bulldogs, 73-63. It was the Crimson Storm’s first victory over SWOSU since 2018.
- Cedarville’s Ashlyn Huffman put up 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Findlay. That’s a triple-double, and that is good. In a close game, losing by three points to Carson-Newman, Caitlyn Ross also recorded a triple-double last week, going for 24-10-14.
- West Georgia men’s squad played the role of top-25 upsetter not once, but twice. On back-to-back days, the Wolves took down No. 19 Lee, first by one point and then by 10.
- Charleston (WV) is making history on the women’s side. On Wednesday, Brooklyn Pannell — who leads DII women’s basketball in scoring — dropped 35 points to get the Golden Eagles to 11-0, the best start in program history. They kept it going on Saturday, now 12-0. Pannell had 34 points and now has 41, 35 and 34 in her last three games.
Around the horn: Top-25 action in DII baseball
How did the NCAA.com top-25 fair this past week on the diamond? Let’s take a look, shall we?
- North Greenville was the only top-5 team in action. The Crusaders opened the season 1-0 and three of their top players were on full display. Logan Chapman went five innings of 1-run ball, striking out six. Player of the year candidate John Michael Faile went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Brady West slugged his first home run of the season.
- Hunter Shepherd sure is good at baseball. Catawba’s two-way superstar homered and drove in six runs as Catawba downed Lincoln Memorial in extras, 12-11, to avoid an opening night upset.
- Mount Olive picked up a win in its opener, downing Queens (NC) 8-5. Five different Trojans drove in at least one run.
- West Texas A&M improved to 5-1, scoring 30 runs over two games. Matthieu Gauthier was impressive on the bump, going five scoreless with 10 strikeouts, but the Buffs bullpen really shined, allowing a pair of unearned runs in 7.2 innings over both games.
- The Nighthawks improved to 5-1 as well with a weekend sweep of USC Aiken. North Georgia has scored 10 runs in all but one game… and that was a 9-0 shutout. Parker Morrison was on the bump in that win, pitching his second complete game shutout of the season, this time striking out 10.
- Texas-Tyler bounced back with a weekend sweep of Texas A&M International. Riley Jepsen is on a five-game hitting streak including a team-best two home runs.
- The Muleriders got off to a 2-1 start on the season. Southern Arkansas exploded for 16 runs on Saturday, led by Brett McGee. An All-American candidate, the catcher went 4-for-4, scoring four times and driving in two.
- UNC-Pembroke opened its season a perfect 2-0, scoring a total of 25 runs in a pair of wins last week. Bobby Dixon came out raking, going 5-for-9 with a home run and six RBI.
Home runs aplenty: DII softball sluggers return
DII softball is in full swing. West Texas A&M softball is off to a 4-0 start and slugger Ruby Salzman blasted her first dinger of the season. Last week, our own Brenden Welper took a look at the top returning sluggers in DII softball, and Salzman picks up where she left off… atop the list. Check it out below: