Prowitt-Smith navigates around McCarthy

The Williams College men's basketball team is preparing to play Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinals. 

The NCAA has released its first round of regional Division III men’s basketball rankings. The Williams men are one of the top teams in the region.

The Ephs are in the newly reconstituted Region I, and is one of nine teams ranked. The first NCAA D-III rankings just name teams and are published in alphabetical order.

Six of the nine teams in Region I are NESCAC squads. The other teams are, in order, Amherst, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity and Wesleyan.

The rest of the field in Region I includes Albertus Magnus, Saint Joseph (Conn.) and Westfield State.

The colleges in the New England states used to all be under the New England Regional banner. The NCAA pared down the regions, so there are now 10 different ones. Regions I and II both host New England-based teams.

Region I has teams from NESCAC, MASCAC, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and the North Atlantic Conference.

Region II’s leagues are the New England Women’s and Men’s Athetic Conference (NEWMAC), the Little East and the Commonwealth Coast Conference. Brandeis is the only team in Region II that is not in a New England-based league. The Judges play in the University Athletic Association, and because of it’s geography, does not reside in any one region. UAA member Rochester is in Region III, Case Western Reserve is in Region VII, and Washington University of St. Louis is in Region VIII.

The NCAA will be releasing regional rankings every week between now and Feb. 28, when the Division III men’s basketball committee unveils the 64-team tournament field. The rankings from here on out will be based on ratings, and will actually be 1 through 8 or nine. There are 83 teams listed in the first regional rankings. The numbers range from Region II’s six teams to a 10-team field in Region VII. That region includes teams from Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Forty-four conference champions and 20 at-large, or Pool C, teams will receive bids to the Division III tournament. Teams that receive Pool C bids are pulled from the list of regionally ranked teams.

The men’s Division III Final Four will be played the weekend of March 18-19, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.

On the same day that Williams returned to the basketball court after a 16-day COVID shutdown and lost to Wesleyan, the Ephs moved up to No. 12 in the D3hoops.com Top 25. Williams is the only NESCAC school in the men’s Top 25, as the Cardinals finished two points out of 25th.

There are three other New England schools in the Top 25. St. Joseph’s (Conn.) is ranked sixth and up from seventh, WPI went from 24th to 22nd, while UMass-Dartmouth appears for the first time at No. 25.

Randolph-Macon received all 25 first-place votes and sits atop the poll. Marietta is second, followed by Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Christopher Newport and Wisconsin-Platteville.

Christopher Newport is the No. 1 team in the women’s Top 25, a poll that has three New England and two NESCAC schools in it.

Amherst is ranked 11th for the second consecutive week, while Tufts fell from seventh to 12th. The other New England team is Springfield. The Pride went from 23rd to 21st.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6253.

Sportswriter-Columnist

Howard Herman is a sports columnist at The Berkshire Eagle. The dean of full-time sportswriters in Western Mass., he has been with the Eagle since 1988, and is a member of the New England Baseball and Basketball Hall of Fame.