Crazy, as we are now into February, how fast the season seems to of gone. It’s also that time of year, that is a little sad, as many careers will end over the next few weeks. A bittersweet time of year as we watch teams battle for titles and other teams seasons end. Our Top 25 poll, which is often referred to as the “Media Poll” is not an official NAIA poll, but our goal, as always, is to simply help paint a picture of what the top teams in the NAIA look like. It never does get easy, as each week we see upsets, buzzer beaters and even injuries costing teams some wins. It is going to be a fun final few weeks with plenty more changes before the next and final Top 25 rankings, but for now here is this weeks NAIA Hoops Report Top 25:
1. College of Idaho 22-1
College of Idaho is rolling through the Cascade Collegiate Conference and will now have a shot to punch their ticket to the NAIA National Championships with a win on Tuesday vs Eastern Oregon. The Yotes currently own the longest win streak in the NAIA at 22 games.
2. Grace (IN) 22-3
The loss to Huntington on January 21st may be a turning point on the Grace season when it is all said and done. The Lancers have now won 4 straight games including two Top 25 road wins as they went to Marian and then to Indiana Wesleyan and left with wins. The Lancers, when playing well, are as good as anyone in the country.
3. Union (KY) 22-1
Union clinched a birth to the NAIA National Champions this past week. They were the firs team to do so as they ran away with another Appalachian Athletic Conference Regular Season title to get the automatic birth to the NAIA Championships. This is a very talented scoring team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Don’t imagine the Bulldogs will pack it in until tourney time, this is a hungry group!
4. Arizona Christian 21-4
Arizona Christian has battled a tough schedule and plenty of injuries this season. They have won 5 straight games though, which was much needed as they finish off the regular season with 3-straight road trips to the upper half teams in the GSAC!
5. Langston (OK) 22-2
Langston has been playing really short handed as of late and it caught up to them this past weekend as they faced off with an extremely talented and hot Wayland Baptist team. Langston is still very talented and once back to healthy will be one of the favorites to win a National Title.
6. Oklahoma Wesleyan 22-3
The Eagles have gotten back on track after losing back-to-back games to end the month of January. Once of the best help defensive teams in the NAIA, the Eagles are coming off of a 95-38 beat down of Avila. Still one of the best teams in the country, OKWU looks poised to win another KCAC Title.
7. William Penn (IA) 21-2
Coach John Henry got career win #500 this past week as the Statesmen now hold the 2nd longest win streak in the NAIA at 17 games. The Statemen’s game on Saturday got postponed, so the scheduling may be a bit interesting headed into the Heart Conf. Tourney, but the Statesmen are just 1 win away from clinching a 4th straight Heart of America Title\ and punching their ticket to the NAIA Championships.
8. Indiana Tech 21-3
The Warriors have won 9 of their last 10 games now and have the talent to make a deep run at the NAIA National Championships. They will look to avenge an earlier loss to Rochester this week, but with 3 of their final four games at home, and a two game lead in the WHAC, Indiana Tech should be locking up a National Tourney birth soon.
9. Jamestown (ND) 22-3
When you have one of, if not THE best players in the country, you put yourself in position to win a National Championship. The Jimmies are very capable of making yet another deep run into Kansas City. As the rest of the GPAC beats on one another, they have now won 10 straight games and sit 2 games up in the Standings and can lock up a birth to the NAIA National Championships on February 10th.
10. Georgetown (KY) 20-4
Even after a loss @ Freed-Hardeman since the last Top 25 was released, Georgetown has quietly snuck into 1st place in the Mid-South standings and sit a game up on both Thomas More and Freed-Hardeman. The Tigers will control their own destiny down the stretch as they have 3 of their final four games at home. A team and coach that is used to winning National Titles, the Tigers are poised for a big run!
11. Loyola (LA) 19-4
While Loyola suffered a home loss to Mobile since the last rankings, they did win 3 of 4 games including a big win over Faulkner to push their SSAC lead to 2 games with four to play. The defending National Champs are tough and are a team to keep an eye on if they can continue to gain momentum headed into the NAIA National Championships.
12. Faulkner (AL) 20-4
The Eagles saw their 7 game winning streak snapped as they lost at home to Loyola this past week. CJ Hines and company are still a very good team and Head Coach, Scott Sanderson, who locked up career win #500, always has Faulkner playing their best basketball in February and March. You can expect more of the same this year.
13. Kansas Wesleyan 21-3
KWU lost a tough game at OKWU this past week, but the Coyotes looked much tougher and more confident then they did with their blowout loss to OKWU earlier this season. Alex Littlejohn continues to have a big season and has KWU looking like they will be the 2-seed in the KCAC Tourney!
14. Thomas More (KY) 19-5
Winners of 5 straight, a once Top 5 Thoms More team looks to be getting back on track at the right time. The Saints sit just 1 game back of 1st place, but their final four games are really tough. Luckily, they will host 3 of the final 4 games before hitting the road in the finale to face off against a good Pikeville team.
15. Florida College 22-3
Matt Simpson has been back to putting up insane numbers over the past 6 games. Included in that is the 33pts and buzzer beater 3 to help the Falcons knock off Iowa Wesleyan in OT this weekend. The Falcons will be the1-seed in the CAC Tourney in a couple of weeks.
16. Indiana Wesleyan 18-7
The Wildcats may be the toughest team in the NAIA to figure out. They certainly have the talent and coaching to make a deep run, and they still are tied for 1st place in the Crossroads League Standings. Going to be a fun final three games in Crossroads League action!
17. Freed-Hardeman (TN) 17-7
The Lions haven’t been at full strength lately and dropped a couple close ones. Still a very good Lions team that, when full strength, has proven to be really tough on both ends of the floor. They sit just 1 game back of 1st place Georgetown, and have a big showdown on Saturday with Thomas More.
18. Huntington (IN) 19-6
As we saw last season, Huntington, as this time of the season, is playing it’s best basketball. They have won 6 straight games with three of those wins coming against Top 25 teams. They may make a bigger jump then this in the Coaches Poll, and deservedly so. They keep playing like this and it won’t be surprising to see the Foresters in Kansas City!
19. Montana Tech 21-4
The Frontier Conference, with just 6 teams, plays one another 3 times in league play. It makes for some crazy battles especially in round 3 of league play. The Orediggers have a two-game lead on both MSU – Northern and Providence. Caleb Bellach and control their own destiny on trying to repeat as FC Regular Season Champions.
20. Evangel (MO) 19-5
Evangel, at times, as played like a Top 10 team. However, they have been a bit inconsistent. They travel to play a red hot Central Methodist team on Wednesday, a game they need to win as Baker is tied with with them for the 2-seed now and Peru State is lingering!
21. Southwestern (KS) 19-5
Southwestern has lost 4 of their past 7 games. However, dont write off the Builders just yet. Cevin Clark is one of the best players in the NAIA while Deng Bol and Andrew O’Brien are putting up big numbers as well. This is a team that was once a Top 5 team in the NAIA and is still dangerous come tourney time.
22. Iowa Wesleyan 22-2
For the first 10-15 minutes in the Florida College showdown, Iowa Wesleyan looked outmatched. However, they showed who they truly are and can be over that final 25 or so minutes of regulation and then into OT as well. Losing on a last second shot in OT to a Top 25 team keeps Iowa Wesleyan inside of our Top 25.
23. Marian (IN) 18-7
Marian, is a lot like Southwestern KS. A very talented team, that when they are playing well, are very dangerous. They haven’t played well as of late, losing 3 of their past 4 games. They still have to travel to Indiana Wesleyan this Saturday for a big showdown, but this is still a good team who we wouldn’t want to see in our POD!
24. Antelope Valley 21-1
There are a ton of teams who can fill these final few slots of the Top 25, but Antelope Valley just has 1-loss on the year and have now won 10-straight games. The Pioneers are just 1 win away from clinching the 1-seed in the CALPAC tourney.
25. LSU Shreveport 19-5
We saw another great battle between Shreveport and Texarkana this past week. Two teams who are probably both Top 25 teams, but as Shreveport took over 1st place in the RRAC, we will give them the nod here. Shreveport does travel to rival LSU Alexandria this week. If the Pilots can survive the two road games this week, they should be on their way to another RRAC Title!