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CoBL-area D-III Power Rankings: Nov. 28, 2023 (MBB)

11/28/2023, 11:30am EST
By Jeff Griffith

By Jeff Griffith (@hooplove215)

With a few weeks of the season in the books, the top of the area’s Division III men’s basketball hierarchy has generally held serve, but several programs of made surprise noise in the early going.

Here’s the first in-season edition of CoBL’s Division III men’s area power rankings:

Previous Rankings: Preseason (Nov. 6)

Swarthmore's Michael Caprise grabs a rebound against DeSales. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

1. Swarthmore Garnet (LR: 1) 

Record: 4-1 (1-0 Centennial)

Last Three Weeks: vs. Washington University (L, 76-56), at NYU (W, 71-70), at Cabrini (W, 82-76), vs. DeSales (W, 68-64), vs. Muhlenberg (W, 77-58)

Even with an early loss on the schedule, it’s hard to say no to a Swarthmore team that reached the NCAA Division III Final Four last season; and it helps, too, that the Garnet’s lone loss this year was against a nationally-ranked opponent, Washington University in St. Louis. Swarthmore didn’t take long to make up for it, turning around and ripping off four impressive wins, including one over preseason Top 10 NYU, as well as DeSales. The Garnet have been paced by their seniors so far this year, as forward Michael Caprise (16.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and guard Vinny DeAngelo (13.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg) currently lead the way in scoring, while sophomore guard Eddie Paquette holds a team-high in rebounds, averaging 7.6. (Read more on Paquette HERE)

Next Up: vs. Washington College (Nov. 28), at Dicksinon (Dec. 2), vs. Ursinus (Dec. 6), vs. Widener (Dec. 9)

2. DeSales Bulldogs (LR: 2)

Record: 3-1

Last Three Weeks: vs. Rosemont (W, 92-53), vs. The College of New Jersey (W, 72-62), at Swarthmore (L, 68-64), at Moravian (W, 89-77)

Despite a 5-1 Widener team nipping at its heels — the two will go head-to-head Wednesday — DeSales clings to its No. 2 spot this week after a steady start to its 2023-24 season. The key? DeSales’ only loss so far came on the road, at area No. 1 Swarthmore, by just four, after leading with just over a minute to play. Senior forward Elijah Eberly — who leads the Bulldogs in scoring thus far with 16.5 ppg, while also adding 5.8 rpg, despite coming off the bench — contributed a career-high 24 points in the loss to Swarthmore. After taking on Widener, DeSales will visit Alvernia, which currently sits at No. 6 in our rankings.

Next Up: vs. Widener (Nov. 29), at Alvernia (Dec. 2), at Baruch (Dec. 6), vs. York (N.Y., Dec. 9)

3. Widener (LR: 3)

Record: 5-1

Last Three Weeks: vs. King’s (W, 105-80), vs. Roanoke (W, 85-74), vs. Ursinus (W, 86-73), vs. Hampden-Sydney (L, 72-63), at Wooster (W, 72-68), vs. Salisbury (W, 71-49)

With a deep cast of returners and transfers, Widener entered the season with a slew of talent, and a surplus of depth. So far, it’s paid off — the Pride are 5-1, with their lone loss coming against a team ranked in the nation’s preseason Top 10, per Along the way, graduate forward Dominic Dunn — who’s in his second year since transferring from Susquehanna, and led Widener in scoring last season — has done it all so far, leading the way in both points (12.3 ppg) and rebounds (6.5) while chipping in 3.5 apg and shooting .435/.344/.750 splits. Widener’s upcoming schedule, though, is a gauntlet, and will provide a clear test of its early success; the Pride’s next three games are against No. 1, 3 and 4 in this week’s rankings. 

Next Up: at DeSales (Nov. 29), vs. Arcadia (Dec. 2), at Swarthmore (Dec. 9)

4. Gettysburg Bullets (LR: 7)

Record: 4-1 (1-0 Centennial)

Last Three Weeks: vs. Muskingum (L, 64-55), vs. Messiah (W, 77-57), vs. Stevenson (W, 78-70), at York (W, 88-87), at Johns Hopkins (W, 70-56)

Gettysburg remains ahead of an unbeaten No. 5 Arcadia squad largely on the wings of its very impressive most recent win; the Bullets went down to Baltimore and took down’s national No. 12 Johns Hopkins by 14 to open Centennial Conference play. Gettysburg’s win over the Blue Jays serves as its fourth in a row after a season-opening loss to Muskingum — a stunner, as the Fighting Muskies went a dismal 1-24 last year — but the Bullets seem to have found their stride in the weeks since. A three-headed monster of junior guard Jordan Stafford (15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), junior guard Carl Schaller (14.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and sophomore forward Nate Williams (14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has been the driving force so far; the three account for 60 percent of Gettysburg’s scoring this season to date.

Next Up: vs. Franklin & Marshall (Nov. 28), at Washington (Dec. 2), vs. Dickinson (Dec. 6), at Salisbury (Dec. 9)

5. Arcadia Knights (LR: 9)

Record: 5-0

Last Three Weeks: vs. Susquehanna (W, 64-63), vs. Cabrini (W, 74-65), vs. Gwynedd Mercy (W, 80-74), vs. Haverford (W, 71-56), vs. Immaculata (W, 68-57)

Arcadia enters a key stretch of road games with an impressive unblemished record after three weeks of play. The Knights made their living on close wins to start the 2023-24 campaign, earning their first three victories of the season by a combined 16 points. Dec. 2 at Widener will serve as a key test of the Knights’ unbeaten streak. So far, it’s been graduate forward Jalen Watkins — last year’s MAC Freedom Player of the Year — leading the charge with eye-opening averages of 18.8 points and 13.4 rebounds. Watkins has been the epitome of consistency, too, scoring between 17 and 20 points in all five of the Knights’ games so far.

Next Up: at York (Nov. 29), at Widener (Dec. 2), at Marymount (Dec. 6), vs. Shenandoah (Dec. 9)

Jaylen Green and Franklin & Marshall are out to a 4-0 start. (Photo: Courtesy F&M Athletics)

6. Franklin & Marshall Diplomats (LR: NR)

Record: 4-0 (1-0 Centennial)

Last Three Weeks: vs. Neumann (W, 97-67), vs. Elizabethtown (W, 79-50), at Lancaster Bible (W, 82-71), vs. Ursinus (W, 71-59)

Franklin & Marshall is off to a surprisingly hot start after a 12-14 season a year ago, ripping off four consecutive wins to start its 2023-24 campaign, including a road win at preseason area No. 8 Lancaster Bible, and a 30-point season opening victory over preseason area No. 5 Neumann. The Diplomats will continue to be tested in the weeks to come, with visits to Gettysburg and Haverford on the upcoming calendar before a home date with Johns Hopkins. Franklin & Marshall has been led by five different double-digit scorers, with sophomore guard Vakaris Grauslys leading the way at 16.3 ppg. 

Next Up: vs. Neumann (W, 97-67), vs. Elizabethtown (W, 79-50), at Lancaster Bible (W, 82-71), vs. Ursinus (W, 71-59)

7. Alvernia Wolves (LR: 4)

Record: 2-1

Last Three Weeks: vs. Juniata (W, 66-48), vs. Penn State Berks (W, 95-68), at Wilkes (L, 83-76)

Alvernia’s just three games into the season, so it’s hard to get a gauge on the Wolves, but two blowout wins is certainly a good place to start against any opponent. Alvernia picked up a close loss to an unbeaten Wilkes squad, and will face a pair of talented squads in the next week to fully test its early-season prowess. After starting the season in the area’s top five, though, with the majority of last year’s 21-win team back, there’s certainly reason to believe Alvernia still belongs among the area’s top programs this season. The Wolves, so far, have gotten exactly 15.0 ppg apiece from senior forward Jakob Kelly and senior guard Robert Mullan, with senior guard Nigel Cooke adding 14.7 ppg of his own.  

Next Up: vs. Neumann (Nov. 28), vs. DeSales (Dec. 2), vs. Gwynedd Mercy (Dec. 9)

8. Bryn Athyn Lions (LR: NR)

Record: 4-1

Last Three Weeks: at Rutgers-Camden (W, 82-68), at Immaculata (W, 92-77), vs. Washington College (W, 76-69), at Penn State Berks (W, 81-63), at Penn State Abington (L, 77-66)

Similarly to Franklin & Marshall, Bryn Athyn picked up a surprise 4-0 start after going 11-14 last year and 7-18 the year prior. The Lions hold a trio of double-digit road wins, but fell in their most recent contest against a 2-2 Penn State Abington squad; By the end of November, Bryn Athyn will have played just one home game, so the Lions’ early-December slate will be a breath of fresh air. The vast majority of Bryn Athyn’s production thus far has come from five players who average at least 27 minutes and 13 points apiece. Chief among them, junior guard Jakir Hampton is averaging 16.2 ppg on impressive .491/.409/.750 shooting.

Next Up: at Pratt Institute (Nov. 27), at Clarks Summit (Nov. 29), vs. Gallaudet (Dec. 4), vs. Cairn (Dec. 6), vs. Saint Elizabeth (Dec. 9)

9. Penn State Harrisburg (LR: NR)

Record: 5-1

Last Three Weeks: vs. Kean (W, 59-51), vs. Marymount (W, 81-76), vs. St. John Fisher (W, 79-71), vs. John Carroll (L, 83-63), vs. Cabrini (W, 78-53), vs. Messiah (W, 80-73)

Penn State Harrisburg didn’t make this year’s preseason rankings after a 15-11 campaign a season ago, but ripping off five wins in six games to kick things off has the Lions firmly on the radar. Of their five wins, four have come by single digits. Senior guard Nate Curry has put up standout numbers so far, averaging 16.2 points and 9.5 boards while shooting a red-hot .507/.545/.895 split. Fellow senior and guard Donyae Baylor-Carroll, though, leads the way in scoring so far from PSU Harrisburg with 16.5 ppg. 

Next Up: at Penn College (Nov. 28), vs. Gallaudet (Dec. 2), at CCNY (Dec. 4), at Neumann (Dec. 7), at Bridgewater (Dec. 9)

10. Immaculata Mighty Macs (LR: NR)

Record: 4-2

Last Three Weeks: vs. Valley Forge (W, 91-60), at Penn State Brandywine (W, 74-61), vs. Bryn Athyn (L, 92-77), vs. Notre Dame (Md., W, 66-56), vs. Stevenson (W, 66-64), at Arcadia (L, 68-57)

With just two losses, both to area Top 10 teams, Immaculata’s 4-2 start is worth recognition after an unranked preseason position. The Mighty Macs took double-digit losses to Arcadia and Bryn Athyn, but have otherwise held serve against a manageable schedule. Through six games, Immaculata’s scoring has come from a balanced group, with no one averaging more than 12 points, but seven players averaging six or more points. Graduate forward Tyler Tillery leads the way in points and rebounds with a near double-double average of 11.8 ppg and 9.5 rpg.

Next Up: vs. Albright (Nov. 27), vs. Penn State Berks (Nov. 29), vs. Penn State Abington (Dec. 2)

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