With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, sleep-deprived college students are walking around like zombies all over New England. But that hasn’t slowed this basketball season, and with the NESCAC’s first inter-conference matchup of the season in the books and plenty else to talk about, I felt compelled to still get you your (slightly abridged) power rankings. Just one more week of games separates us from the teams’ winter breaks, so let’s get right to it:
(Rankings and Results through Dec. 5)
No. 1 Amherst (5-0) ↔
Last Week: W vs. Keene State 66-45, W vs. Lehman 88-33
While D3Hoops.com hyped up the Lord Jeffs’ matchup with Keene State as a “battle of the undefeated,” I felt confident sticking to my assertion from last week that Amherst wouldn’t be tested for the remainder of 2011, and they justified my point jumping out to a 35-12 lead in the first half. If anyone from the northeast is going to give the Lord Jeffs a run for their money, that team will undoubtedly be from the ‘CAC.
No. 2 Colby (5-0) ↔
Last Week: W vs. Thomas 87-26, W vs. Bowdoin 56-41.
And if someone was going to hang tough with Amherst, the Mules would be the team to do it. Despite beginning the season in the Top 15, Colby has proven they were underrated, and their dominant victory over then-No. 10 Bowdoin only drove the point home further. The fact that they earned the victory with star senior forward Rachael Mack having an off-night says a lot about the all-around team coach Julie Veilleux has put together. Senior forward Jill Vaughn, who had a double-double in the win, looks to be another major threat in a team full of them.
No. 3 Williams (6-0) ↔
Last Week: W vs. Bridgewater State 89-63, W vs. Daemen 71-45
By sweeping the second straight mini tournament it has hosted this season, the Ephs have further defined the gap between the haves and the have nots of the NESCAC. Both weekends, Williams invited a NESCAC and two non-conference sides to play, and while the Ephs are 4-0 in such games—only one of which was decided by less than 20 points—Tufts and Middlebury have gone a combined 0-4. The Lord Jeffs, Mules and Ephs may be well on their way to forming a triumvirate similar to that of Williams, Middlbury and Amherst on the men’s side.
No. 4: Tufts (5-2): ↑
Last Week: W vs. Salem State 63-31, W vs. St. Joseph’s 76-45, W at Regis 65-53
What is impressive about the Jumbos is not that they are winning—that is to be expected of a strong NESCAC side in November and December—but how they are doing it. They have two freshmen and a sophomore starting for the first time all averaging more than seven points per game and an all-around player in senior Tiffany Kornegay that is supplying nine points, seven boards, three steals and three assists nightly. But perhaps most important is the seemingly full recovery of senior Kate Barnosky, who is providing the team with a consistent source of points.
No. 5 Connecticut College (6-1) ↔
Last Week: L vs. Western Conn. 83-69, W at Rivier 79-50, W vs. St. Joseph’s 72-47, W vs. Mitchell 82-35.
Though the Camels loss to an undefeated Western Connecticut side that is shooting up the rankings is far from a disappointment, the manner in which they one showed that the Camels are likely still a few steps short of the conference’s elite. Despite out-rebounding them significantly, Conn had no answer defensively for the Colonials, who shot 44.8 percent from the field and put five players, including two off the bench, in double figures. Three wins to close out the week proved that the Camels are capable of bouncing back and playing through fatigue.
No. 6 Bowdoin (3-2) ↓
Last Week: L vs. Southern Maine 63-49, L vs. Colby 56-41.
I’ve already talked about this team and their struggles plenty this week, but suffice to say they need to turn things around quickly. They plummeted from 10th in the nation to unranked in the course of one week, and the road doesn’t get much easier: they play Bates on Thursday.
No. 7 Bates (4-1) ↑
Last Week: W vs. Husson 83-51, W at Maine-Farmington 84-46, W at Massachusetts College 87-69, W at Norwich 74-62
Like Tufts this team is young: sophomore Meredith Kelly is averaging 16 points off the bench while junior Allie Beaulieu is contributing 14. There is no question that Bates can put points on the board, but how will their defense hold up against better competition.
No. 8 Wesleyan (4-1) ↓
Last Week: W vs. Maine-Presque Isle 76-32, W vs. Anna Maria 58-29
Yes the Cardinals are racking up plenty of wins, but who have they beaten? They’ve played only one team above .500 for the season, and that game is their one loss. We’ll see what kind of team they really are when they travel to Williams this weekend.
No. 9: Trinity (3-3) ↔
Last Week: W at Lasell 68-58, L at Western Connecticut 72-48, W vs. Salem State 65-57, L vs. Worcester State 67-55
Through six games this season, the Bantams have failed to win two in a row, which just doesn’t cut it in the NESCAC. They have consistent point contributors, but need to start playing better defense; opponents are shooting 41.6 percent against them on the season, the worst in the conference by nearly five percent.
No. 10: Middlebury (2-3) ↓
Last Week: W vs. Castleton State 48-35, L vs. Daemen 59-41, L vs. Bridgewater State 80-55
The Panthers came into this past week rested and ready to go, but after getting a midweek win laid an egg in Williamstown over the weekend. Most concerning is their offense, which has broken 60 points just once this year. What’s most evidently lacking is a go-to player; Middlebury has none of the top 25 scorers in the conference.
No. 11: Hamilton (3-4) ↓
Last Week: W vs. Elmira 59-40, L vs. Union 49-39, L vs. Utica 48-44, W at Wells 52-23
When Hamilton does manage to win, it wins ugly. Against a clearly overmatched Wells side, the Continentals still only managed 52 points. Junior Madie Harlem is undoubtedly a talent averaging 17 points per game, but single-tract offenses don’t cut it in the NESCAC any more than 48 point performances do.
Ethan Sturm covers women’s basketball for NESCAC Insider. He can be reached on Twitter @Esturm90