Surging Hilltoppers Back at No. 1 - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Surging Hilltoppers Back at No. 1

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After a wild week that saw 17 of the nation's Top 25 NCAA Division II teams suffer at least one loss, the West Liberty men's basketball team finds itself right back where it started – ranked No. 1 in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II rankings panel.

Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (27-1), ranked No. 3 a week ago, were the only team among the top four to avoid a loss and moved back to the top of the poll – a spot they had occupied from the start of the season until mid-January. West Liberty went 3-0 on the week, pounding Shepherd, 113-103, on Monday before throttling Pitt-Johnstown, 98-83, on Thursday and wrapping up the regular season with a 101-76 rout of regionally-ranked Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday.
West Liberty's ascension followed a Thursday loss by then-No. 2 Western Washington at Alaska-Fairbanks. Last week's No. 1, Metropolitan State, then dropped a Friday game at Fort Lewis, Colo. and No. 4 Cal Poly-Pomona fell at San Francisco State later that night. This week's poll includes results from games through Sunday, Feb. 24.
Metro State (23-1) and Western Washington (25-1) dropped one spot apiece while Seattle Pacific (21-3) leapfrogged Cal Poly-Pomona (22-2) into the No. 4 spot. Alabama-Huntsville (21-4) and Minnesota State (22-4) each moved up two spots to Nos. 6 and 7, respectively. Drury, Mo. (21-4), whose 13-game winning streak is tied with West Liberty for the longest active run in Division II, is at No. 8 with Saint Anselm, N.H. (21-4) and Winston-Salem State, N.C. (20-5) rounding out the top 10.
This is the 51st consecutive weekly poll appearance for the Hilltoppers, the longest unbroken run in the national rankings by a WVIAC school since former league member Salem was ranked for an NCAA Division II record 76 consecutive weeks from 1997 to 2003.
West Liberty, which has clinched its seventh national scoring title in the past eight years and recently locked up its fourth straight WVIAC championship, begins its quest for a third consecutive WVIAC Tournament crown at 8:30 p.m. Thursday when the Hilltoppers close out the quarterfinal round in Charleston against the winner of tonight's first-round game between Concord and Pitt-Johnstown.
NABC DIVISION II TOP 25
Men's Basketball
(Through games of Sunday, Feb. 24)
Team (FPV) Rec Pts Pvs
1. WEST LIBERTY (9) 27-1 389 3
2. Metropolitan State, Colo. (4) 23-1 386 1
3. Western Washington (4) 25-1 375 2
4. Seattle Pacific, Wash. 21-3 350 5
5. Cal Poly-Pomona 22-2 335 4
6. Alabama-Huntsville 21-4 318 8
7. Minnesota State 22-4 308 9
8. Drury, Mo. 21-4 284 11
9. Saint Anselm, N.H. 21-4 251 12
10. Winston-Salem State, N.C. 20-5 230 7
11. Saint Leo, Fla. 20-5 213 20
12. Lincoln Memorial, Tenn. 20-4 190 19
13. Wisconsin-Parkside 19-6 185 13
14. Florida Southern 19-5 170 6
15. Bellarmine, Ky. 19-6 153 15
16. Indiana, Pa. 20-5 143 14
17. Fort Lewis, Colo. 18-5 136 17
18. Benedict, S.C. 20-6 114 NR
19. Southern Indiana 19-6 102 16
20. East Stroudsburg, Pa. 20-5 93 10
21. Winona State, Minn. 23-6 73 18
22. Grand Canyon, Ariz. 22-5 51 NR
23. Dominican, N.Y. 21-5 48 NR
24. Livingstone, N.C. 20-5 42 NR
25. Augustana, S.D. 19-7 39 NR
Others receiving votes: USC-Aiken 35, Assumption (Mass.) 33, Kentucky Wesleyan 27, Michigan Tech 27, Wayne State (Mich.) 27, Newman (Kan.) 19, Eckerd (Fla.) 12, Carson-Newman (Tenn.) 11, FAIRMONT STATE 9, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) 8, Gannon (Pa.) 5, Dixie State (Utah) 4, UNC-Pembroke 4, Midwestern State (Texas) 1.