By Nikki Sherrill, Athletic Communications and Media Intern
KANSAS CITY, MO. – Boasting an NAIA-best 29-0 record, the Fighting Saints of St. Francis (Ill.) once again earn the No. 1 spot in the 2016-17 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced on Tuesday. Now in their fifth-straight edition as the top program, the Fighting Saints earned all first-place votes and 312 total points to remain No. 1. The final Coaches’ Poll will be released Wednesday, March 1. The qualifiers and bracket for the 2017 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship will also be released March 1 at 5 pm CST on NAIA.org.
Top 25 Highlights
• After earning its first-ever No. 1 ranking on Dec. 13 of this season, St. Francis (Ill.) has locked down the top spot in each poll since. This edition, the Fighting Saints garnered all first-place votes and 312 total points to remain in control of the rankings for the fifth-straight poll. Boasting a 29-0 record, St. Francis remains atop the rankings as one of only two undefeated programs left.
• After running the tables in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) this season, the Fighting Saints finished the program’s first-ever undefeated regular season in its 41-year history. On top of that accomplishment, St. Francis punched its ticket to the 2017 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship after winning the CCAC regular-season crown. The Fighting Saints received the No. 1 seed in the CCAC Tournament and host Robert Morris (Ill.) Wednesday.
• The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) regular-season champion, Concordia (Neb.), comes in at No. 2 for the fifth-straight installment. With a 28-2 overall record, the Bulldogs remain at the heels of the Fighting Saints. After winning the regular season for the third time in six seasons, the Bulldogs take the No. 1 seed in the GPAC Tournament and welcome Midland (Neb.) to their court on Wednesday. Concordia defeated the Warriors twice this season.
• Spots 1-4 remained the same as last edition with No. 3 Saint Xavier (Ill.) and No. 4 Marian (Ind.) both staying put. Southeastern (Fla.), the only other undefeated team remaining in Division II (24-0), jumped two places to No. 5.
• Other programs to earn regular-season championships are No. 7 Davenport (Mich.) (Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference), No. 13 Eastern Oregon (Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC)), No. 11 Friends (Kan.) (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference), Marian (Crossroads League), No. 23 Milligan (Tenn.) (Appalachian Athletic Conference(AAC)) and Saint Xavier (CCAC).
• With the AAC regular-season title to its name, No. 23 Milligan moved into the Top 25 this week. With the top seed in the conference tournament, the Buffaloes look to continue to extend a five-game winning-streak into the postseason.
• Only Indiana Wesleyan fell out of the rankings to receiving votes. The 18-12 Wildcats have dropped two of their last four contests and earned the No. 3 seed in the Crossroads League tournament where they will face Huntington (Ind.).
• No. 13 Eastern Oregon made a poll-best four-place adjustment from its previous hold in the rankings. The Mountaineers won the CCC regular-season rights after a coin-toss decided between them and Southern Oregon. With the tiebreakers, Eastern Oregon earned the No. 2 spot in the conference tournament and hosts Corban (Ore.) Tuesday.
• Overall, 11 of the conferences are represented in the poll. The GPAC and CCAC lead the way with four each, including two in the top three for the CCAC.
• Morningside has the most No. 1 rankings in NAIA history with 38, while Indiana Wesleyan is second with 33.
• Morningside holds the active streak of being ranked in the Top 25 (162). Saint Xavier is second with 149-straight, including its time in Division I.
• College of the Ozarks (2007-08), Morningside (2008-09) and Saint Francis (Ind.) (1999-00) are the only teams to go the entire season ranked No. 1.
• The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions.
• The Top 25 is determined by a points system based on how each voter ranks the best teams. A team receives 30 points for each first-place vote, 29 for second-place and so on through the list.
• The highest and lowest ranking for each team (a non-rating is considered a low ratings) is removed and the team’s ranking will be recalculated with an additional point added to each team for every ballot (including discounted ballots) that the teams appears on.
• Teams that receive only one point in the ballot are not considered “receiving votes”
• For the complete Top 25 calendar, click here.
2016-17 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – Poll No. 6 (Feb. 21)
|RANK||LAST WEEK^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||Season Record||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||St. Francis (Ill.) (12)||29-0||312|
|3||3||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||27-2||293|
|8||9||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||23-4||241|
|9||12||Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)||24-5||233|
|14||13||IU Northwest (Ind.)||24-5||179|
|15||15||Purdue Northwest (Ind.)||23-7||174|
|18||16||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||23-5||147|
|19||20||IU East (Ind.)||25-5||125|
|21||21||Dickinson State (N.D.)||22-6||108|
|22||25||Siena Heights (Mich.)||22-8||84|
Dropped from the rankings: Indiana Wesleyan (24)
Others receiving votes: Valley City State (N.D.) 56; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 51; Northwestern (Iowa) 49; Saint Francis (Ind.) 15; Antelope Valley (Calif.) 15; Point (Ga.) 15; Indiana Wesleyan 12; Saint Mary (Kan.) 8
^Reflects ranking in 2016-17 Poll No. 5