Northwest Missouri tops Ranked 10th men’s basketball pre-season DII

The 2022 DII men’s basketball season is fast approaching. Northwest Missouri State will begin its title defense as it always looks when it fills up a loaded court in the 2022 College Basketball Hall of Fame starting November 5.

If you count the 2020 season, when the Bearcats were 31-1 and COVID-19 forced the tournament to be cancelled, we haven’t seen a new DII men’s basketball champion since 2018. The top spot was owned by Northwest Missouri State, winners of the last three in a row and often that in a dominant manner.

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There is not much reason to believe that things will change in 2022-23. Which is why Northwest Missouri entered the season as the nation’s number one team.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How does the team that loses Trevor Hudgens compete? Because Bearcats have been doing this for years. Whether it’s Justin Pitts, Joey Witthus, Ryan Hawkins or Hudgins, Northwest seems to reload very easily. With Diego Bernard back in Maryville, along with groups like Wes Dreamer, Luke Waters, Mitch Mascari and Isaiah Jackson, there’s plenty of fuel to launch another track to Evansville, Indiana.

a summary: Northwest Missouri wins third straight national championship

So, who are the other contenders at this early stage of the 2022-23 men’s basketball season for a DII game to topple the Kings? I’m glad you asked.

Power 10 Men’s Basketball Rankings 2022-23 DII

No. 1 Northwest Missouri: Does anyone remember last year, when the Bearcats suffered five heavy losses and were ranked 10th in the country before entering the tournament? We saw how it ended. Head coach Ben McCollum has created a beast who’s still hungry for more. His Bearcats are 193-13 with four titles since 2016-2017.

No. 2 Indiana (Pa): There is a lot of talent coming back from last year’s squad that qualified for the semi-finals. That includes Shondell Jones, who was leading DII in scoring when he lost this season to injury early on — and that team still goes that far. Crimson Hawks should score a lot and run PSAC.

No. 3 Augusta: The Jaguars bring back eight players from the 2022 runner-up and should be able to take another round at the Peach Belt. Four players who scored over 30 minutes in a championship game are back in the starting session and it will be clear they will be hungry for more. Standing at 7ft-1, Tyshaun Crawford should be considered the Player of the Year and could easily lead the nation in blocks and balls.

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No. 4 Minnesota Duluth: You might think I’m crazy as I rated Bulldogs so highly, but this team is scary good. Last year was a season that ended with “What if?” What if Austin Andrews was healthy in that championship match? There’s no denying that this team has the talent to do the running, and this year, we’ll see. Eleven players return, including Andrews and the rest of the starting course. Last year, this team did very well as a group of hungry young footballers. Now that they are experienced, watch out.

No. 5 Southeast Nova: This team made an undefeated run to the National Semifinals but lost two very big pieces from this team at Nick Smith and Seco Sella. However, RJ Sunahara has returned as well as a large number of experienced players. Head coach Jim Crutchfield will face another high-octane attack and this team will win, especially with the addition of Will Joakum of West Liberty, who, if he remains healthy, will be an elective for the newcomer at the Sunshine State General Conference.

No. 6 West Texas A&M: Coach Tom Brown simply doesn’t know how to lose. Last year was another big season, with 29 wins before running into yellow Cinderella’s championship run. The top three scorers from last season – Julius Brown, Larry Wise and Zac Toussaint – are back, along with some potentially impactful transfers. Lubbock Christian came in strong last year so the Lone Star is going to be a fight, but the Buffs have the experience to climb among the top again.

No. 7 Black Hills State: The Yellow Vests were one of the best stories of 2022. They won the RMAC Tournament to advance to their first DII men’s basketball tournament where they caught fire and advanced to the National Semifinals. Five players who played more than 20 minutes returned in that loss to Northwest Missouri, as did Joel Scott, the immediate nominee for Player of the Year, who came off a season averaging 23.1 points per game last year.

No. 8 Lincoln Memorial: Railsplitters were in a transitional year last season. Jeremiah Samarrippas took over as head coach with several new faces and as it turns out…there wasn’t much of a move on. The Railsplitters have won 26 games, including one in the championship and now with the Queens (NC) jumping to DI, they could be the team to beat in the Southeast. Eight of the top nine scorers are back in an entertaining attack, including guest Jordan, Chase Rankin and Mi Kill Burris who count three of the region’s top players in their positions.

No. 9 West Liberty: Honestly, what’s a pre-season Power 10 without Hilltoppers? I’ll admit the typical throwback depth isn’t quite there as it used to be, but with Bryce Butler and Malik McKinney, this crime should continue to be one of the most enjoyable games of DII. Three diversions — Stephen Cannady of Mercyhurst, Alek West of Ohio Dominican and Michael Sampson of Notre Dame (OH) — all averaged double points in the scoring and are very familiar with the DII scene. The trio can make this team very strong very quickly.

No. 10 Cal State San Bernardino: The CCAA was wild last year, with three teams looking like they were contenders for the title…and honestly, not much has changed. I chose the Coyotes as the top group because three of the four top scorers are back, including All-American Brandon Knapper. Three large transitions from the first section intervene to fill in the missing depth of the graduation.

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first five (in alphabetical order)

  • Augustana (SD): Some see this as the year of the rebuild, but did Tom Peletter really rebuild, or just reload? Some of NSIC’s top scorers have disappeared from this team, but there is still plenty to watch.
  • Central Oklahoma: Part of a perfectly stacked downtown area, there’s a lot to like about Bronchos. They lost their top scorer, but everyone else came back with a trio of impressive transitions on the wings.
  • Cal State, San Marcos: The Cougars are losing a lot of top scorers but they have a lot of experience from the 2022 championship comeback team.
  • Vermont The Falcons have nine returnees, one of whom is Isaiah Sanders, a name you’ll know by the end of the season. Add five more of last year’s top scorers and three big transfers, and MEC will be a fun battle between West Liberty and Fairmont State.
  • the northern state: It says something when a 20-win season is a “landing year” for your show. If we are arranging by number, wolves are number 11 and may be very low. They bring back all the top scorers for a very experienced team.

Also considered (in alphabetical order): Azusa Pacific, Barry, Bentley, Chico State, Merseyhurst, Miles, MSU Morehead, Upper Iowa

Interesting teams to watch: Below is a list of the teams that were very strong last year, but lost a huge amount of talent. These schools are traditionally doing well, but they have some question marks surrounding the upcoming season with a lot of new faces. Everyone can easily find their way into the top 25 this year.

  • daman
  • Embry Riddle
  • Findlay
  • Hillsdale
  • Lubbock Christian
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas
  • UNC Pembroke

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