As the calendar starts to turn toward 2016, we will take a look at the races in each of the basketball divisions as we head toward March and the 2016 United States Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball National Championships in Uniontown, PA.
Men’s Division I
Through the first three coaches polls, Rochester College took over the top spot after the first week as the Warriors enter the Christmas break with a 10-1 record. West Virginia Tech has held the second spot with a 9-5 record and already hold a win over past champion Washington Adventist University.
SUNY Canton leads the standings as the lone undefeated team heading into Christmas with an 8-0 record. The Kangaroos have made a stance on the defensive end, as they lead the USCAA in blocked shots (6.4 per game) and are second in steals (10.8 per game).
Three teams that made their first USCAA Basketball National Championship appearance in 2015 are among the leaders at the halfway point in Florida National University (9-3), Iowa Wesleyan College (6-3) and Berea College (7-5).
Oakwood University pulled the upset of the first half when they defeated NAIA Division I third-ranked Talladega University 81-69 on November 12.
Women’s Division I
2015 USCAA National Semifinalist Concordia University-Alabama has held the top spot in each of the first three polls as the Hornets are currently 9-1 and sport the best record in the division.
Iowa Wesleyan College (7-1) and University of Maine-Fort Kent (9-2) round out the top three of the standings and the latest coaches poll. Silver Lake College is in the mix for its first bid to the championships as the Lakers are 8-3 and fourth in the standings heading into the holiday break.
Perennial USCAA contender Rochester College (8-6) and a team looking for its first-ever women’s bid in Florida College (6-4) round out the top five in the coaches poll.
On the edge of a bid heading into the holidays include a couple perennial participants in St. Mary of the Woods College, The Apprentice School and Carlow University. The Pomeroys lead the association in scoring offense averaging over 94 points per game.
Men’s Division II
The 2015 USCAA National Champions from Berkeley College (NY) have held the top-spot in each of the three coaches polls thus far as the Knights are 7-1 and riding a seven-game winning streak.
Leading the standings at the half-way mark are the 2015 title game opponents of the Knights, Penn State Mont Alto sports a 10-1 record and have won eight games in a row. The Nittany Lion swept a Maine swing in November against 2015 USCAA Championship participant Southern Maine CC and 2014 participant Central Maine CC.
The Knights of Central Penn College have been in the top four of each of the first polls and sport a strong 13-5 record. They have not ran away from top-flight competition as they have faced three NCAA Division I teams thus far and will take on three more in the 2016 portion of their schedule.
The Mustangs of Central Maine lead the East Division of the Yankee Small College Conference with a 12-4 record, while the Fighting Saints of the College of St. Joseph’s-Vermont head the West Division with a mark of 8-4. The Saints hold the head-to-head advantage defeating the Mustangs 78-72 in Auburn, Maine with the rematch in Rutland, VT on January 17.
In the Penn State University Athletic Conference, Mont Alto leads with a 5-0 conference mark while Penn State Greater Allegheny has won its first three conference matchups scoring wins against Penn State Fayette, Penn State New Kensington and Penn State Beaver which could bode well for them come post-season time.
Women’s Division II
First-time USCAA National Championship participant Penn State Hazleton leads the standings and the latest coaches poll as they sport a strong 10-1 record heading into the break and have won seven in a row.
The 2015 USCAA Runners-up from the College of St. Joseph’s-Vermont are right behind Hazleton in the standings and coaches poll with a 7-1 record. Pushing them for top-spot in the Yankee Small College Conference is the school sitting fourth in the latest poll, University of Maine-Augusta. These teams only meet once this year in the regular season and that’ll take place on February 6 at Rutland, VT.
Sharing the second spot in the coaches poll with the Fighting Saints are a perennial Women’s Division II National Tournament entrant in the Panthers from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. They are currently 7-2 on the year with wins over Maine-Augusta and USCAA Women’s Division I SUNY Canton.
In the Penn State University Athletic Conference, Hazleton leads with a 4-0 mark with three 2015 USCAA Women’s Division II Championship entrants chasing them in Penn State Lehigh Valley (4-3/2-0), defending USCAA National Champion Penn State Beaver (4-7/4-1) and tournament host Penn State Fayette (4-5/3-1).
The bids for the 2016 USCAA Championships will take place on February 22 (Division I) and February 23 (Division II). Eight at-large bids will be handed out on the 22nd for the Division I Tournaments. The next day will see ten teams earn spots in the Men’s Division II, while eight will get to dance in the Women’s Division II field. Conference championship winners from the Penn State University Athletic, Yankee Small College and Hudson Valley Intercollegiate will join tournament hosts Penn State Fayette on the Division II brackets.
Be sure to check out the USCAA website each Monday for weekly key matchups in all divisions of basketball.