CBT's D2 MEN's Late Season Update
Fantasy football draft day, the Super Bowl, and the first round of regional rankings … those three events are the best times of the year, right?
Also, just like the holidays quickly roll through the calendar one after another at the end of the year, regional rankings keep coming week after week.
Regional rankings are also the gift that keeps on giving because there is so much to look at and sift through. With all the high-scoring talent across the country, the regional rankings can be hard to navigate.
It is time to rank the top team from all seven regions.
#1 - Nova Southeastern: South
The Sharks came into the season as a question mark without seeing any action the year prior. However, Jim Crutchfield and his guys have exceeded all expectations. Nova Southeastern is the only undefeated team left in any division of men’s basketball and one of five teams in all of college basketball with four women’s teams still perfect.
With three ranked wins and the best offense in Division II, the Sharks seem unstoppable. Considering how the Sharks play at breakneck speed on offense and have the most steals in D-II, there really does not seem to be a way to stop them. The last time they lost, the Sharks still put up 109 points but lost after No. 5-ranked Florida Southern shot 46.2% from deep and 57.8% from the floor.
#2 - Lubbock Christian: South Central
It may be obvious, but the only reason LCU is not ranked first is because of the greatness of Nova Southeastern. LCU enjoyed a top-ranking early in the year after two ranked wins in November. The Chaparrals lost to a now four-win Cameron team which is a big black eye on the program. But with a top-10 defense, LCU poses the biggest threat to Nova Southeastern after the Sharks coast through the Sunshine State Conference tournament.
#3 - Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Atlantic
IUP is as under the radar as a top-5 team can be … which is to say, not much. However, IUP also did not have much action last season — like the Sharks — and have a stellar team.
Shawndale Jones and Armoni Foster are averaging more than 20 points this season, which explains how the Hawks have exploded for 100 or more points four times this season. The Hawks allow opponents to shoot just over 30% from deep and have the third-best field-goal defense in the country. Pair that with the sixth-most assists in DII and IUP serves as another threat for Nova Southeastern.
#4 - Cal State San Bernadino: West
The Coyotes have the fourth-best in-region record of any team on this list. They have feasted out west with only two losses. The Coyotes are humming at the right time and average 92 points per game over their last three games.
Brandon Knapper averages almost 20 points per game and Darius Mickens is splashing threes at a 46.3% clip.
#5 - Augustana (S.D): Central
Jameson Bryan is a fascinating player who has the third-best turnover-assist ratio in the country. With only 29 turnovers and 4.88 assists per game, Bryan had led his team to a 13-game win streak. Also benefiting from Bryan’s passing are Augustana’s top-four scorers who all average double figures. Tyler Riemersma also averages a double-double as the leading scorer at 18.5 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per contest.
#6 - Flagler: Southeast
While sixth may seem high for the Saints, this team is solid. Their 3-point defense — fourth-best in DII — is something to keep an eye on because it keeps them in games. Jaizec Lottie is one of the most prolific scorers in the country and keeps his teams in games too. Flagler has some odd losses on the resume but has the postseason experience to make a run. If Flagler holds off Augusta in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, the Saints will prove themselves legitimate contenders.
#6 - Truman: Midwest
The Bulldogs played a close game but lost to reigning champion Northwest Missouri State early in the year. They also struggled through the middle of conference play, but have won six-straight games as of late. Cade McKnight is another 20-point per game scorer and the team, as a whole, does a lot of things right. They can shoot the three and are top-10 in free-throw percentage and assists per game.
#7 - Bentley: East
Bentley may not be the best team in their own conference after two losses to Franklin Pierce. Colton Lawrence does lead four double-digit scorers on the team. Bentley also does the little things to keep them in games such as win the rebounding battle and stay out of foul trouble.
On the whole, the Sharks are going to be nearly impossible to beat and, besides IUP and LCU, no teams on this list have much of a chance to dethrone them. It will be interesting to see how things shake up after conference tournament time and those winners will give us a better look at who will make a run at the title.
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