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USJ Men’s Basketball Claims No. 1 Spot in D3hoops National Rankings

USJ is now ranked No. 1 in D3 men's basketball. Courtesy image

The University of Saint Joseph Blue Jays are one of 12 undefeated teams in Division III, and this week earned the No. 1 ranking.

Submitted by the University of Saint Joseph Athletic Department

The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men’s basketball program continued its meteoric rise in the Division III national rankings, making history Monday evening when it was tabbed the No. 1 team in the nation, following the release of the fourth in-season D3hoops.com Top 25 of the 2022-23 campaign.

USJ, which is in the midst of just its fifth season (fourth full season) since starting its men’s basketball program in 2018-19, has climbed to the top spot in the land after receiving 21 of a possible 25 first-place votes and 619 poll points overall from the Top 25 voters. The Blue Jays are currently one of 12 remaining undefeated teams in Division III men’s basketball and are 9-0 to start the season. Saint Joseph plays next at No. 14 WPI on Friday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. in Worcester, MA.

Starting the 2022-23 season nationally-ranked at No. 13 following the release of the preseason poll, Saint Joseph made a 10-spot jump up to No. 3 when D3hoops.com unveiled its first in-season poll on Nov. 28. Victories over Yeshiva (Nov. 9) and Babson (Nov. 14), which received votes in the preseason poll, followed by wins over then-No. 3 Wis.-Oshkosh (Nov. 18) and then-No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan (Nov. 19) at the Small College Basketball Champions Classic in Aberdeen, SD, attributed to the early leap in the rankings. The Blue Jays then bumped up to No. 2 in the week two poll and remained there for week three before claiming the top spot in week four. USJ, which as of Monday owns the second-best scoring margin in the nation (+24.7), has won its last five contests all by 20 or more points with its last two wins by 43 points and 42 points, respectively.

USJ, which was an all-women’s college until the university announced in the summer of 2017 that it would transition to a fully coeducational institution starting in the 2018-19 academic year, took to the hardwood for the very first time with its men’s basketball program on Nov. 9, 2018 under the direction of Naismith Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun and current head coach Glen Miller. The Blue Jays went 16-12 and made it to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship game in their inaugural season.

After starting 1-2 in 2019-20, Saint Joseph rattled off 25 straight wins, won the GNAC Tournament, and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament. USJ first cracked into the Top 25 that season, was ranked No. 22 on Feb. 10, 2020, and reached as high as No. 14 prior to its NCAA Tournament appearance. Similarly in 2021-22, after only playing four official games in 2020-21 season due to COVID-19, the Blue Jays started 22-0, finished 26-2, won the GNAC Tournament, and made another NCAA Tournament appearance. USJ was nationally-ranked No. 9 to start last season, was ranked throughout the entire year, and reached as high as No. 5. Fast forward 4 years, 1 month, and 11 days (1,502 days) from Nov. 9, 2018 and USJ is now the No. 1 ranked Division III men’s basketball team in the nation.

This year, the Blue Jays have relied on their balanced offense and relentless defense over its undefeated start to the season. Saint Joseph currently has two players averaging in double figures, led by graduate student guard Ryan O’Neill (Litchfield, CT) at 13.0 ppg, with their top-seven scorers all north of 6.0 ppg. Defensively, the Blue Jays are currently one of the best teams in the nation, allowing just 55.7 ppg, holding opponents to 36.2 percent shooting from the field, and forcing 20.78 turnovers per game. As of Monday, those marks rank third, sixth, and 10th in the nation, respectively.

Men’s basketball looks to defend its top-ranked designation when it returns back to hardwood next on Friday, Dec. 30 at nationally-ranked No. 14 WPI for a marquee non-conference contest. Tipoff between the Blue Jays and Engineers is scheduled for 2 p.m. inside Harrington Auditorium in Worcester, MA.

D3hoops.com Men’s Top 25, 2022-23 Week 4

Through games of Dec. 18, 2022:

# School (No. 1 votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
1 St. Joseph (Conn.) (21) 9-0 619 2
2 Williams (1) 9-0 574 3
3 Randolph-Macon (3) 7-1 550 4
4 Mount Union 8-1 546 5
5 Rochester 9-1 511 8
6 Keene State 10-0 501 6
7 Christopher Newport 9-2 434 1
8 John Carroll 8-1 431 9
9 Middlebury 8-1 395 10
10 Case Western Reserve 9-0 339 13
11 Calvin 7-1 333 12
12 UW-La Crosse 9-2 299 7
13 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 9-1 273 15
14 WPI 7-1 253 14
15 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-2 220 16
16 Emory 7-1 209 19
17 Johns Hopkins 6-2 208 17
18 St. Thomas (Texas) 10-1 176 21
19 UW-Oshkosh 7-3 162 11
20 Mary Washington 8-1 148 23
21 RPI 9-1 146 18
22 Heidelberg 8-1 142 20
24 Stockton 8-1 110 22
24 Swarthmore 8-1 102 24
25 Nazareth 6-1 77 25

Dropped out:

Others receiving votes: Trine 49; Virginia Wesleyan 43; Tufts 36; Guilford 29; Catholic 18; Carthage 14; NYU 12; North Park 11; East Texas Baptist 10; UW-Whitewater 10; Muhlenberg 10; Berry 9; Montclair State 9; Washington U. 8; Roanoke 8; Hampden-Sydney 6; Kean 5; Whitman 5; St. John’s 5; Mary Hardin-Baylor 4; Western Connecticut 4; Scranton 2; Redlands 1.

The D3hoops.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.

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