The Eastern Mennonite men’s basketball team moved up two spots in the national poll this week, coming in at No. 16. The Runnin Royals had wins over Lynchburg and Randolph last week while a handful of other teams around the nation took losses. There was also a change in the top spot as Whitworth took over for Wooster.
EMU’s move up was actually the first time this year where the men have gained spots in the poll. They started the year at No. 3 in the preseason list.
Orie Pancione is shooting nearly 53% from the floor for the No. 16 Runnin Royals.
Wooster took its first loss of the year to Wabash, and fell to No. 4. The Little Giants, who have also beaten Randolph-Macon this season, moved up two to No. 13.
Whitworth, a team which the Royals beat in the postseason last year, is one of two undefeated teams left and took over the No. 1 spot. It’s the first time in the history of D3hoops.com’s poll that the top-ranked team has been from west of the Rockies. The Pirates are from Spokane, Wash.
Williams and Amherst are second and third this week. Augustana also suffered its first loss and fell two spots to No. 5. Virginia Wesleyan, Middlebury, UW-Steven Point, St. Thomas and UW-River Falls round out the top 10. Randolph-Macon held at No. 11.
As attention starts to turn towards the NCAA’s regional rankings, which are more important when at-large bids are determined for the national tournament, the EMU men have some work to do as they are not ranked in the top eight of the South Region.
VWC and R-MC are one and two. Ferrum, No. 19 in the national poll, was third in the regional rankings last week. Centre was fourth, although the Colonels lost over the weekend. The NCAA regional rankings were released for the first time last Wednesday.
Eastern Mennonite, 16-4 overall and 7-4 in the ODAC, plays at rival Bridgewater College this Wednesday night before hosting Emory & Henry Saturday at 2:00pm. The Runnin Royals then have a big week to wrap up the regular season, hosting both No. 6 Virginia Wesleyan and Washington & Lee and closing at Guilford on Feb. 19.