Sunday evening, 48 men’s teams and 48 women’s teams will hear their names called to fill the bracket and settle some unfinished business from last March. For now, we will let the selections speak for themselves and put the Power 10 rankings on hold. Instead, this week, we’ll take a look around the conference championships at just a few things that caught our eye.
We’ll also check out the diamond. There’s always room for a little DII baseball. Oh, and there was also some DII football played.
Get pumped, DII Nation. It’s tourney time! Let’s get it started with the latest DII Report.
Upset city: The DII men’s basketball conference championships
Northwest Missouri State sure looked tournament ready. The Bearcats scored 100 points in the first two games of the MIAA tournament, shooting 60 percent or better in both games. Ryan Hawkins recorded the second triple-double in Bearcat history during the semifinal win, going for 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
And then came Washburn.
The Bearcats and Ichabods had played twice before this season. Both games were memorable, as the teams split a pair of tightly-fought games that were decided in overtime. The MIAA finals looked to be heading that way. Washburn dominated the first half, leading 30-19 after the first 20 minutes. The Bearcats fought all the way back, tying the game at 66 with seconds remaining. Diego Bernard was fouled with less than three seconds on the clock, and hit both free throws for a 68-66 lead. It wasn’t enough. Tyler Geiman launched a half court shot that sealed the MIAA title for the ‘Bods.
What else impressed us?
- UIndy took down the No. 2 team in the country in Truman, 75-73 in the Greyhounds’ first game of the GLVC tournament. They were down big, trailing by as much as 13 in the second half in the remarkable comeback. Now, sixth-seeded Drury and fifth-seeded Lewis will play for the men’s GLVC title and an automatic bid to the postseason on Sunday. How much more March can you get than that?
- St. Edward’s had an impressive run in the Lone Star Conference tournament. The Hilltoppers took down No. 7-ranked Lubbock Christian and No. 14-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville in back-to-back games before finally succumbing to West Texas A&M in the finals. Qua Grant had a monster 34-point, 12-rebound performance as the Buffs won their fourth-straight LSC title.
- Who had Malone winning the G-MAC? The Pioneers won their ninth-straight in knocking off No. 9-ranked Hillsdale sending them to their first-ever G-MAC championship game. There, Malone disposed of Cedarville 77-59 to claim the automatic bid to the tournament. The Pioneers shot 54% in the second half, going 10-for-19 from 3, to run away with it.
- The MEC is coming down to the two teams we expected, despite the regular season not going as we expected. West Liberty needed a buzzer beater from Malik McKinney to put away Glenville State 95-92 but advance to the finals on Sunday. The red-hot Hilltoppers, who have won 11 in a row, face off against one of our preseason sleepers in Fairmont State. The Falcons absolutely dominated No. 12-ranked and top-seeded Charleston (WV) 85-70. Dale Bonner and Isaiah Sanders combined for 53 points.
- Naturally, the GLIAC championship game will not feature either the No. 1 nor No. 2 seed. Instead No. 3 Michigan Tech will face off against No. 5 Ashland. This is the same exact matchup on the women’s side. Oh hello, March.
DII women’s basketball sees its fair share of upsets
It’s odd having the Ashland Eagles in a conversation about upsets, but lo and behold, here they are, back in another GLIAC championship game. The Eagles finished the regular season a modest 11-7, but have played Ashland basketball since, winning their three GLIAC tourney games by an average of 22.6 points per game. After upsetting Northwood — and then defeating 7-seed Parkside, which had upset Grand Valley State the day before — the Eagles face No. 1 seed Michigan Tech on Sunday to punch their automatic ticket to the DII women’s basketball championship.
Lee’s women’s basketball team is back in familiar territory. The No. 3 seed Flames upset No. 1 Valdosta State in a tightly-contested 74-71 game in the Gulf South semifinals to reach the title game on Sunday for the second time in three years.
No. 5 Tiffin toppled No. 1 Cedarville in the women’s G-MAC semifinals. It was the Dragons second upset in as many games. Aarion Nichols led the charge dropping 22 points and nine rebounds. A game later, the 5-seeded Dragons downed Kentucky Wesleyan in overtime to punch their ticket to the bracket and claim the G-MAC title. Nichols was big again, scoring 22 while Savanah Richards poured on 23.
While it wasn’t a tournament game, we need to give a shoutout to Hawaii Pacific’s Amy Baum. Okay, okay, another shoutout to Baum, who’s prolific career thus far has been highlighted on NCAA.com plenty of times. The junior put up a triple-double — the second of her career — in the Sharks’ season finale as they finished a perfect 13-0. They haven’t lost since Nov. 2019.
Around the horn: DII baseball battles on the diamond
Quincy and Davenport went head to head in a battle of preseason sleepers. The Panthers were coming off a statement series win over Central Missouri, while the Hawks were excited to be back on the diamond for the first time in a year. And it sure did show.
The Hawks to Game 1 in impressive fashion. Riley Martin went seven strong, striking out 11 and four Hawks homered in the 10-2 victory. On Saturday, in the first game of a doubleheader, Quincy erupted for 20 runs, this time powered by five players launching bombs, with Lance Logsdon and Michael Nielsen homering twice. Davenport finally got back on track in Game 3, blowing up for 16 runs. Nolan Anspaugh hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
How about Lindenwood’s return to action. The Lions, who are loaded for 2021, came out and pitched two shutouts to start the season. In fact, through their first three games, the pitching staff has allowed one total run. Kyle Hentis tossed a dandy on the Lions’ opening day, going seven scoreless innings striking out 11 and walking none.
John Michael Faile, one of my preseason players to watch, is off to a ridiculous start for North Greenville. He’s hitting .448 with a 1.328 OPS, five home runs and 26 RBIs through 15 games. But it was Marek Chlup who stole the show this weekend. The transfer from NC State blasted three home runs Friday night, two of which came in the same 12-run inning. He stayed hot on Saturday, launching a two-run bomb in the first inning of a doubleheader. Through 14 games, he’s hitting .417 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs.
Speaking of preseason players to watch, quite a few had tremendous games this week.
- Haydn McGeary went 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season to go with seven RBIs in Colorado Mesa’s 29-1 victory.
- Erik Webb powered up for a pair of home runs and five RBIs in a much needed win for Central Missouri.
- Think Millersville’s Luke Trainer wanted to get back on the baseball field? The senior catcher and designated hitter went for the cycle in the Marauders’ first game back in action since last March. Millersville swept the doubleheader, and Trainer went 4-for-5 with eight RBIs in the opening 18-5 victory.
- Benjamin Elder’s filthy start to the season continued for No. 1 Angelo State. He’s now 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 10.95 WHIP after striking out six in six innings against Lubbock Christian on Saturday.
- Florida Southern’s Jacob Teeter, one of the best players DII has to offer, returned to the diamond in, well Jacob Teeter fashion. The star first baseman belted two home runs to get the Mocs off to a 1-0 start. It’s safe to expect many more on the way.
- Erskine baseball wasn’t on my radar to start the season, but Livan Reinoso has certainly done his best to put them there now. The junior third baseman is hitting .538 with a 1.594 OPS and a DII-best eight home runs through 16 games.
Spring is in the air… and on the ground: DII football returns
Though there won’t be a championship, we will be treated to some spring DII football in 2021. Several teams in my preseason top 25 will be taking the field. Lenoir-Rhyne will take the field soon, as will UIndy and Lindenwood, just three of the teams in action that were expected to do big things in 2020.
West Alabama and Limestone played a little DII football this past weekend. Quarterback Jack McDaniels threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Tigers to a 27-17 victory. Senior running back Derrick Underwood chipped in 148 yards on the ground while Tyriq Martin was the primary beneficiary of McDaniels arm, reeling in 166 yards and a touchdown.
Newberry spoiled DII superstar quarterback Rogan Wells’ Tusculum debut, defeating the Pioneers 21-6. In fact, it was the Wolves’ quarterback Dre Harris who stole the show. Harris threw for 166 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more touchdowns to account for all the scoring.