The Williams College men have reached the highest national ranking for a NESCAC basketball team in the 2021-22 season.
In this week’s D3hoops.com national Top 25, Williams moved from being the No. 20 team in the nation to being ranked 14th. The Ephs leapfrogged over NESCAC rival Wesleyan, who fell from 15th to 20th.
The Ephs, who were 14-1 heading into Tuesday night’s game at SUNY New Paltz, made the largest single leap since the 2017-18 season. That year, Williams fell from No. 5 to No. 11 in Week 5 of the D3hoops.com poll. The Week 6 poll, the first of the new calendar year that season, saw Williams beat California Lutheran, and win at Wesleyan in overtime and at Connecticut College. That encouraged the voters to move Williams from being the 11th-ranked team to being No. 4 in the nation.
That was as high as the Ephs got, and while they remained in the Top 25 all season and won the NESCAC Tournament title, a second-round NCAA Division III tournament loss to Ramapo caused voters to place the Ephs at No. 17 when the season was over.
Wesleyan fell to 20th after losing at UMass-Dartmouth 104-94. The Corsairs, meanwhile, are in essence this week’s No. 26 team. Pittsfield’s Isaac Percy and Mike Eurquhart both play for UMD. Percy did not play in the Wesleyan game, but the 6-foot-7 Eurquhart had five points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes against the Cardinals.
Randolph-Macon remains the nation’s No. 1 team. But this week, 24 of the 25 voters had the Yellow Jackets as the No. 1 team. Eighth-ranked Christopher Newport got the other first-place vote.
The top five this week are Randolph-Macon, Illinois Wesleyan, Washington University, Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Wisconsin-Platteville. There are three Wisconsin schools in the top 10, as Wisconsin-La Crosse is ranked 10th.
Yeshiva remains the top-ranked Northeastern school, as the Maccabees remain seventh. They were supposed to play Williams on Jan. 2, but the game was canceled. Because of religious holidays, Yeshiva hasn’t played since December and won’t play until Wednesday night.
The top-ranked New England team remains Saint Joseph (Conn.). The team, built by Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, is ninth and at 13-0, is the only undefeated team in the Top 25.
After Williams, NEWMAC power WPI is ranked 17th with a 15-1 record. Two other northeast teams, Oswego State (22) and Nazareth (25) are also in the Top 25.
In the women’s poll, three NESCAC teams and Springfield College are in the Top 25.
Springfield, one of six undefeated teams in the poll, is 16-0. Former Hoosac Valley standout Riley Robinson plays 14 minutes a game for coach Naomi Graves. Robinson is one of four sophomore guards on the Pride roster.
The top-ranked New England team is 13-2 Tufts, ranked eighth. Amherst (10-2) is 11th and Bowdoin (14-3) is 21st. Williams is 0-4 against Top 25 teams, having lost to Springfield, Bowdoin and twice to Amherst. The Ephs will play Tufts at home on Feb. 12, to end the regular season.
The top three teams in the women’s poll are a combined 46-0. Hope (Mich.), a unanimous No. 1, is 16-0, as is second-ranked Christopher Newport. Third-ranked Transylvania (Ky.) is 14-0. The other undefeated teams in the women’s Top 25 are No. 7 NYU (14-0) and No. 17 Wisconsin Lutheran (13-0).
Rounding out the top five are Trine and Simpson.