Nate Shafer (above) and Swarthmore continued their run as the No. 1 team in the country, and the last unbeaten in D-III. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
It’s time for our next in-season update to our D-III Power Poll!
In case you forgot, unlike our old D-III Power Rankings, this year’s rankings are voted on by a panel of 15 area Division III coaches and SIDs, then compiled by the CoBL staff. This week’s voting revealed a few tiers: a clear No. 1, six teams behind them who were included on just about everybody’s ballot –– and then a free-for all, with seven teams getting serious consideration for those last three spots, and a couple more picking up votes as well.
Look for the next update to this Power Poll on Mon., Feb. 17.
This year’s voting panel: John Baron (Head Coach/Gwynedd Mercy), Justin Baxter (Head Coach/Bryn Athyn), Pat Doherty (Head Coach/Haverford), Andy Edwards (SID/Ursinus), Scott Guise (SID/York), Robert Hughes (Head Coach/Rosemont), Tim McDonald (Head Coach/Cabrini), Casey McGarvey (SID/Elizabethtown), Mike McGarvey (Head Coach/Lycoming), Laurence Messler (SID/Immaculata), Dan Mouw (SID/Eastern), Jason O’Connell (Head Coach/Cairn) Alan Seretti (Head Coach/Dickinson), Jon Tanous (Head Coach/Penn State-Abington), Adam Van Zelst (Head Coach/Arcadia)
Next to each team's name is their Power Points ranking (PP) in parenthesis. We took the average of their votes with an assigned point scale (10 points for 1st, 9 for 2nd, etc.). So a team with a Power Point rating of 6.5 was picked on average between 4th and 5th; a team with a power point rating of 3.1 was picked on average just above 8th place, etc.
Also Receiving Votes: Penn State-Harrisburg (12-6, 8-1 NEAC), Gettysburg (11-8, 5-7 Centennial), Elizabethtown (11-7, 4-4 Landmark)
Dropped Out: No. 10 Gettysburg (11-8, 5-7 Centennial)
10. Eastern University (NR; 1.57)
Record: 12-7 (7-1 MAC Freedom)
Standout Stars: Draig Ruff (12.8 ppg/5.1 rpg), Michael Bowlers (12.5 ppg/7.9 rpg)
Update: The Eagles have ripped off six consecutive wins to rise to the top of the MAC Freedom, turning around a season that had them under .500 after losing to Del-Val on Jan. 11. They’ve beaten DeSales and Stevens, two other Freedom contenders, in the last three games, and most recently won a road contest at Wilkes. They have a decently tough closing stretch with games at Stevens and DeSales, but have shown remarkable balance lately, with all six of their top scorers averaging between 8.3 and 12.8 ppg. They’ve also been playing a lot of close games: none of their six wins came by more than eight points, and all but one were by five or fewer.
9. Lycoming College (9; 3.29)
Record: 14-6 (7-4 MAC Commonwealth)
Standout Stars: Dyson Harward (12.4 ppg/8.0 rpg), Darius Dangerfield (12.3 ppg/4.4 apg)
Update: The Warriors have won six of eight since the calendar year change, including three of four over the last two weeks. That includes handing Widener its first league loss as well as an OT win at Arcadia; a road loss to Messiah was the only blemish of late. Lycoming got a monster 31-point, 12-assist, 7-rebound performance from Dangerfield in the win over Hood, while Harward had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Arcadia. Next up, a trip to Lebanon Valley before games against the three A’s of the Commonwealth: Arcadia, Alvernia, Albright, with the first two at home.
8. Muhlenberg College (8; 3.60)
Record: 14-5 (7-5 Centennial)
Standout Stars: Dan Gaines (16.9 ppg/4.6 apg), Matt Gnais (11.6 ppg/3.3 rpg)
Update: The Mules have kept their head above water in the tough Centennial, losing to No. 14 Johns Hopkins at Hopkins on Saturday but that came after three consecutive wins over teams they needed to beat in Washington College, Gettysburg and Dickinson on the road. They’ve got a similar upcoming two weeks, with a trip to No. 1 Swarthmore followed by games against McDaniel, Haverford and F&M all at home, presenting the opportunity for the Mules to stay safely in the CC playoff picture. Interestingly, the Mules don’t really out-shoot their opponents (.330 3PT% vs. .331), out-rebound them (+1.6/game), or turn it over less (0.8 fewer/game), but they’re ending up on the right side of the ledger more often than not.
7. DeSales University (6; 4.00)
Record: 13-6 (6-2 MAC Freedom)
Standout Stars: Timmy Edwards (13.8 ppg/6.3 rpg), Kweku Dawson-Amoah (11.5 ppg/5.3 rpg)
Update: The Bulldogs’ eight-game win streak came to an end two weeks ago, and they alternated wins and losses in their last four, beating Misericordia and King’s at home but losing to Stevens and Eastern on the road. Those two wins put them in a tie with Stevens for second place in the Freedom, though they’re still very safely in a playoff spot by three games; it would take a significant collapse over the final six games of the season for the Bulldogs to miss the postseason. They can really up the percentages by beating fourth-place FDU-Florham on the road on Wednesday, but then they get home games against Wilkes and Stevens; wins in any two of those three and they’d be in fine shape.
6. Susquehanna University (5; 4.80)
Record: 13-6 (6-2 Landmark)
Standout Stars: Lukas Yurasits (14.2 ppg/4.5 rpg), Matt LaCorte (12.5 ppg/3.9 rpg)
Update: The River Hawks are now in a three-way tie for the Landmark lead with Drew and Scranton after losing two of their four games the last couple weeks, beating Scranton (75-73) at home before losing two more home games to Catholic (64-59) and Moravian (65-60), then turning around and beating Goucher (78-57) on the road. Poor outside shooting cost Susquehanna in both losses, as a team that’s hit 37.4% from deep on the season was less than 30% overall in each. No easy road ahead, with a trip to Scranton (Feb. 5) followed by home games against E-Town and Drew, then two more road games at Catholic and Moravian before a home game against Juniata to finish off the season.
5. Haverford College (7; 5.71)
Record: 14-5 (9-3 Centennial)
Standout Stars: Jesse Turkson (13.7 ppg/8.6 rpg), Jack Cork (7.8 ppg/4.3 rpg)
Update: The Fords came-oh-so-close to making it four wins in four games since our last update, but a second-half comeback by Johns Hopkins resulted in an 80-79 home loss on Sat. 25. Haverford responded nicely by beating Ursinus on the road and Dickinson at home to stay in third in the Centennial and continue a breakthrough season. They play their next three on the road, at Washington College, Gettysburg, and Muhlenberg, three teams they beat at home earlier in the season. In the last four games, they haven’t had a player score more than 15 points, with six different players contributing double-figure efforts in that span.
4. Gwynedd Mercy University (4; 6.14)
Record: 14-5 (5-1 Atlantic East)
Standout Stars: Rich Dunham (18.7 ppg/4.4 rpg), Donaven Spencer (6.7 ppg/5.6 rpg)
Update: The Griffins had ripped off seven straight wins before Saturday, when Wesley clipped them 76-73 on the road, leading for the last seven-plus minutes to outlast the top team in the AEast. Gwynedd returns home for games against Marywood and Cabrini before traveling to Marymount and Neumann the next couple weeks, with home games against Immaculata and Wesley at the end of the month to close out the regular season. Gwynedd’s win over Neumann on Jan. 22 featured one of the more balanced offensive efforts of the season, as 12 different Griffins scored between three and nine points, with nobody on the team taking double-digit shot attempts, in a 62-57 win.
3. York College (3; 8.29)
Record: 16-5 (5-1 Capital Athletic)
Standout Stars: Jared Wagner (17.3 ppg/7.5 apg), David Giuliani (14.9 ppg/7.5 rpg)
Update: After losing three of four over the holiday break, the Spartants have run their win streak to six after winning all four of their games the last couple weeks, all at home: against Wilson (81-49), Mary Washington (79-73), Salisbury (91-71) and Southern Virginia (62-57). They’ll split their last four games of the regular season between home and road, with the toughest game coming at home against conference leader Christopher Newport on Feb. 8 (Sat.) at 4 PM. CAC playoffs start Sat., Feb. 22, but York will almost certainly have a bye through to the semifinals on Weds., Feb. 26. Wagner, who’s making a run at CAC Player of the Year, had a 28-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist performance in the win over Mary Washington.
2. Widener University (2; 8.67)
Record: 17-3 (10-1 MAC Commonwealth)
Standout Stars: Connor Laverty (13.7 ppg/6.7 rpg), Jared Peters (13.6 ppg/4.7 rpg)
Update: The Pride suffered their first league loss on Jan. 25, dropping a 91-79 game at Lycoming, their only defeat in the last eight games. They’re still three games clear on the rest of the MAC Commonwealth with five games left, including two at home and three on the road. Behind their balanced attack, they’re shooting 37.6% from deep, out-rebounding their opponents, turning it over 3.5 fewer times per game, averaging more assists, steals, and outscoring opponents overall by 8.5 ppg. Laverty has been on a tear from deep lately, up to 49.5% (47-of-95) this season.
1. Swarthmore College (1; 10.00)
Record: 19-0 (12-0 Centennial)
Standout Stars: Nate Shafer (10.9 ppg/6.6 rpg), Vinny DeAngelo (9.3 ppg/2.6 apg)
Update: There’s not much left to say about Swarthmore at this point. The Garnet have lived up to their No. 1 preseason ranking, and after Colby College lost to Tufts on Saturday, Swat is the only unbeaten team left in D-III hoops. So they’re the no-brainer No. 1 yet again this season, though both Ursinus (81-76) and Gettysburg (74-70) came close to finally taking down Swat. They play three of the next four at home, but the road one is a doozy, at No. 14 Johns Hopkins (17-2, 11-1) on Feb. 12. The December matchup was a 67-62 win for Swarthmore at home.