For those of you who are new around here, 1st off, welcome! Secondly, the Sunday before the new rankings are due out we like to release our NAIA Hoops Report Top 25. While many refer to our poll as the “Media Poll” it is mostly just for fun and not the official NAIA poll. We do feel like we watch more games than most, so we tend to have a good feel for things. However, like the official coaches poll, we are also very wrong at times as well! Either way, we hope you enjoy the first regular season poll of 2022-23!
1. Arizona Christian 4-0 The Firestorm, have come out of the gates and looked every bit as the No. 1 team in the country. Even in their 4pt win over College of Idaho, they controlled the entire game, prior to COI going on a big run late to make it a game. ACU is also playing without Dennis Flowers III, who is one of their top returning scorers from last season. They open up GPAC play this week with their first road trip of the season.
2. Thomas More (KY) 3-0 Went on the road in their first game of the season and stomped a good Indiana Wesleyan team by 16. The Saints looked like a National Title contender in that game. They now start Mid-South play this week and have two tough matchups with Cumberlands (KY) and then a bigtime road matchup with No. 7 Georgetown!
3. College of Idaho 1-1 A road loss, to No. 1 Arizona Christian, by four points, keeps them inside the Top 3 for us. This is a good Yotes basketball team and they showed some good signs in that loss. Going to be a fun group to watch all season.
4. Jamestown (ND) 3-0 Mason Walters, a National Player of the Year candidate, has been a machine to start the season. Add in Kjos and their shooters on the perimeter and the Jimmies are a tough team to defend.
5. Grace (IN) 5-0 Saw their first real test of the season this past Friday night against a good Oregon Tech team. The Lancers were able to step up to the challenge to get the win. They are such a balanced group, who can beat you in so many different ways! If they can keep playing off of one another, they will be one of the best offensive teams in the NAIA.
6. Marian (IN) 5-0 Two big wins this past weekend against a Top 25, Cumberland team and a true road win against a tough Shawnee State team has Marian skyrocketing up the ranks. They have looked like a serious National Title contender early on, especially when they are shooting the 3-ball so well.
7. Georgetown (KY) 4-0 The Tigers have been pretty good thus far. They have mostly dominated their NAIA opponents, but the Tigers also went toe-to-toe with D1 Western Kentucky for 35 minutes of their exhibition game. Big week ahead for them with the showdown at home with Thomas More coming up!
8. Faulkner (AL) 3-0 Faulkner hasn’t really been challenged yet this season. They open up SSAC play this week against Stillman and Talladega. Then they end the month with some tough matchups in the Battle at the Beach Holiday tournament. All-American, CJ Hines is off to a big start to the season averaging over 17ppg.
9. LSU Shreveport (LA) 2-0 A team, with 12 new pieces to start the season, you weren’t sure how long it would take them to gel. They have only played two games thus far, but the talent is there. Even through the rust and growing pains of learning to play together, you can see the talent. The Pilots are just scratching the surface of what they can be this season and for us that is a Top 10 team.
10. Oklahoma Wesleyan 4-1 OKWU has been in some real battles already this season. They aren’t playing as many guys as they have the past few seasons, so their depth is something to watch as the season goes on. They are coming off of a loss to Evangel and now turn around and have a big KCAC opener against Southwestern (KS). Jaden Lietzke and Kaleb Stokes continue to impress!
11. Wayland Baptist (TX) 3-0 This is a team, who in our preseason rankings, we loved, we just weren’t quite sure yet on what their full roster looked like. That was our mistake, as Wayland is for real. A group who came on strong to end the season last year, added some big-time pieces for this season. Including, Tedrick Wolfe, who redshirted for them last year. Tedrick is a former NAIA All-American, who came to Wayland with coach Gaylean, from Central Baptist. This is a team to watch out for this season!
12. Southwestern (KS) 5-0 The Builders are coming off a weekend where they got a Top 25 win against Florida College. They have a ton of momentum headed into this week’s showdown with OKWU. All-American, Cevin Clark, along with Deng Bol and Andrew O’Brien continue to put up big numbers!
13. William Penn (IA) 2-1 The Statesmen’s only loss was a road loss to preseason No. 24, Briar Cliff. Who also shot lights out from deep. For us, it keeps them about right where we had them in our preseason poll. They have a tough matchup this week against a very good Bethel (IN) team. A team who has looked like a Top 25 spot themselves.
14. Carroll (MT) 3-0 Carroll, like many teams in their region do, have played a mix of regular games and exhibition games. While they do only have one NAIA win on the season, they have a good opportunity this weekend to pick up two out of region NAIA wins.
15. Langston (OK) 2-0 Just two games into their season, so we still don’t know a ton about Langston, other than the talent and coaching they possess. If they are going to have the season we think they can have, they are going to have to get off to a good start this week in SAC play. They travel to play a tough MACU team on Wednesday!
16. Indiana Wesleyan 2-2 Listen, it was a rough start to the year for IWU, but I think they also showed what they are capable of when they took down preseason No. 22, Oregon Tech, by 30. They are a work in progress, who have lost to two Top 25 teams, but are still working out some kinks. They will be fine.
17. Cumberland (TN) 3-1 Cumberland got thumped a bit this past weekend against a very good Marion ball club. Maybe it drops them a bit, but for us they are still a Top 25 team. Especially after being able to rebound on Saturday and knock off a previously unbeaten Saint Francis (IN) team. Cumberland is tough, and talented.
18. William Jessup (CA) 4-2 It will be interesting to see what the official polls do with Jessup. This is still a talented ball club, who have lost two true road games to two good teams. Jessup, needs to get to full strength. They also are still figuring out some roles. The Warriors are going to be fine. It’s just going to take some time for the new pieces to mesh.
19. Ottawa (AZ) 3-1 We are okay with being different then the official poll. OUAZ was another team that we featured inside of our preseason Top 25 and who we feel belongs. They have good wins over Oklahoma City and Texas Wesleyan. They also beat BenU Mesa who has been to back-to-back NAIA tourneys. Their only loss is to a Top 5 College of Idaho team, in a game where they hung tough for a better part of the game.
20. Concordia (NE) 2-0 This is a Bulldog team that we had inside of our Preseason Top 25 and we stick by it. The Bulldogs, led by Gage Smith and Noah Schutte are 2-0 with a 20pt win over Briar Cliff, who was ranked 24th in the official NAIA preseason polls.
21. Indiana Tech 5-0 Started off the year with a bang as they took down preseason No. 5, Indiana Wesleyan. They also knocked off IU Northwest, who was a tournament team last season. Then to finish it off, this past weekend they knocked off a good Madonna team, on the road. Madonna’s, Mark Mettie, did get hurt and only play 13 minutes in that one, but this is a veteran Tech team, who is playing really well together!
22. Florida College 6-1 The Falcons headed off to Kansas this past weekend and got matched up in a Top 25 battle with Southwestern (KS). While that game didn’t go as well as they had hoped, the Falcons are fighting the injury bug a bit. They have looked solid despite that loss and, for us, they are still deserving of a Top 25 spot.
23. Montana Tech 4-0 Was a good weekend for the Orediggers as they were able to find wins against a good Eastern Oregon squad and a tough Dickinson State team. This Friday they will matchup against former Frontier Conference foe, Lewis-Clark State, who has played well early themselves. Then they finish out the month with a tough battle against No. 1 Arizona Christian during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.
24. Oregon Tech 1-3 The Owls are coming off a tough trip to Indiana. Where they went 0-3 on the trip. They, most likely, won’t remain in the Top 25 when the official polls are released this week, but we aren’t the official NAIA poll. We call it like we see it, and despite their record, we feel like the Owls are a Top 25 team and their win against preseason No. 6, William Jessup, shouldn’t go unrecognized. They have played one of the toughest schedules in the NAIA and while you still have to prove you can win those games, this is still a Top 25 team in our books.
25. Evangel (MO) 3-1 Evangel sneaks into the Top 25 after beating the AMC preseason favorites, Missouri Baptist, by 21. Then this past week, the Valor, knocked off preseason No. 4, Oklahoma Wesleyan. They have a bad loss, to Sterling, mixed in, otherwise they would be higher than 25 in our poll!