Lions contending among the NAIA's best
Ranked No.2 last week, new Top 25 Poll coming on Tuesday
SAGU goes 3-0 last week, play in Cedar Hill, Tuesday at 8:00pm
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Men’s basketball in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has reached mid-season and the conference races are heating up across the country.
In fact, eight of the ten conferences have a leader with a one-game lead.
The Sooner Athletic Conference, where more than half of the teams have been ranked in the Top 25 Coaches Poll, is one of the two where the current frontrunner has a larger lead. The two with the best starts in league play?
Southwestern Assemblies of God University is one of two teams who have gotten off to an 8-0 start in their league race. Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn) is atop the American Midwest Conference at 14-0 overall and 8-0 in the AMC.
Ironically, the schools share the same mascot; Lions.
SAGU has a three-game lead in the SAC. However, the teams in second-through-ten are separated by just two and one-half games (2.5). The competition is dog-eat-dog as the eleven teams play a 20 game league schedule.
Cal State-San Marcos is an NAIA independent with a 20-1 record.
Two weeks ago SAGU moved up to No. 2 in the Top 25, their highest advancement ever. The Lions had three of the 10 first place votes.
Last week they remained at No. 2 but no longer had No. 1 recipients on any of the ballots.
Eastern Kentucky’s University of Pikeville had nine of the ten to solidify the Bears’ position at No. 1. They average 93 points per game.
The next Coaches Poll will be released on Tuesday afternoon and SAGU could move up to the crest. UPike lost on Thursday, 92-77, at No. 18 Georgetown College (Ky).
Georgetown (14-4), 16 miles north of Lexington, is the defending national champion. They are scoring at a 97.7 points per game clip.
Could SAGU ascend to the summit at the halfway point in the season?
The two closest competitors are Cougars; Cal State-San Marcos and Columbia College (Missouri) were at No. 3 and No. 4 last week.
Columbia, who went 35-1 last year, had last week’s only No. 1 vote not going to Pikeville.
CC was 16-1 until falling at Freed-Hardeman University, 80-65, on Thursday.
Following a 3-0 week full of challenges, the Lions are riding a 10-game winning streak. They are 15-1 overall.
The Purple Pride is not sneaking up on anyone, often getting their opponents’ “A game.” SAGU has won the last nine games by 5, 13, 5, 13, 6, 9, 5, 11 and 8.
That is an average margin of victory of 8.3.
Here is how the Top 12 teams did over the past week:
|Rank||Team (Location)||Record Last Week||Games Last Week||Current Record|
|1||Univ of Pikeville (Ky)||14-1||1-1||15-2|
|3||Cal State - San Marcos||19-1||1-0||20-1|
|4||Columbia College (Mo)||15-1||1-1||16-2|
|5||Evangel Univ (Mo)||14-3||1-0||15-3|
|7||Arizona Christian Univ||14-1||0-2||14-3|
|8||Talladega College (Al)||16-2||1-0||17-2|
|9||William Carey Col (Ms)||9-2||2-0||11-2|
|10||Concordia Univ (Cal)||13-3||1-1||14-4|
|11||St. Gregory's Univ (Ok)||13-1||0-2||13-3|
|12||Wiley College (Tx)||11-1||2-1||13-2|
SAGU has two games on tap for this week:
Tuesday at Northwood Univ (5-9), 8:00pm, in Cedar Hill, Tx
Saturday at No. 24 Wayland Baptist Univ (12-5), 8:00pm, Plainview, Tx
The Lions have 14 games remaining, half of them at the Sheaffer Center.
On Saturday, February 1, prior to the 5:00pm contest against Southwestern Christian University, a special ceremony is scheduled.
Rings will be presented to last year’s team on advancing to the national championship game. Three banners will also be raised as well as a large photo taken of the team during the NAIA tournament in Kansas City.
SAGU Sports Live will air all remaining home games in HD.