Men's preseason poll: Clear at the top, messy underneath

By Keith Lucas for D3sports.com

The D3hoops.com Top 25 voters know one thing: Augustana is going to be pretty good this season. Again.

Beyond that, well, there's a lot of debate. That's because Augustana is 161 points ahead of the preseason No. 2 team, which is the largest preseason gap in the 17-year history of the D3hoops.com Top 25. To put that gap in perspective, teams No. 2-11 are all within 161 points of each other.

The previous largest margin between preseason No. 1 and No. 2 was entering the 2009-10 season, when Washington University, the two-time defending champs, was the consensus No. 1 pick, 99 points ahead of No. 2 John Carroll. The closest No. 1/No. 2 margin in the preseason was three years ago, when MIT held just a nine-point advantage atop the poll over Virginia Wesleyan. 

We're going to do something here we've never done before in order to illustrate how unpredictable this season is. Following is the place-by-place voting totals for each team in the preseason Top 25. Teams receive 25 points for a first-place vote, 24 for a second-place vote and so on, down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

Rk Team T 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Augustana 623 23 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia Wesleyan 462 0 7 1 2 1 5 1 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Whitworth 452 0 2 1 4 1 3 2 0 1 3 3 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
St. Thomas 443 0 4 5 2 1 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Amherst 416 2 2 3 1 5 0 0 1 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0
Catholic 399 0 2 3 1 3 3 2 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 0
Mount Union 359 0 0 1 0 3 1 3 2 4 1 1 0 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Elmhurst 356 0 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1
UW-Stevens Point 355 0 2 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 1
10  Babson 350 0 1 3 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11  Marietta 335 0 0 1 5 3 0 0 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
12  Trinity (Conn.) 292 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 3 3 3 1 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1
13  Ohio Wesleyan 268 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 4 1 1 1 2 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0
14  Eastern Connecticut 249 0 0 1 0 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 1 0
15  St. Olaf 224 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 2 3 1 1 1 3 1 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1
16  Hope 219 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 1 2 0 3 1 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 1 1
17  Chicago 209 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 1 2 0 0 2 0 1 2 1 0 1 0 0 2
18  Emory 194 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0
19  Franklin and Marshall 193 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 2 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 1
20  Wooster 159 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 0
21  Dickinson 157 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 0 0 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
22  St. John Fisher 134 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 2 1 3 1 1 0 2 0 0
23  UW-Oshkosh 132 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 2
24  Illinois Wesleyan 129 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 2 0 3 0 3 0 1 1
25  East Texas Baptist 114 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 1 0

Nine teams received votes for preseason No. 2, with nobody getting more than seven. Fourteen teams -- more than half of the Top 25 -- are on someone's ballot at the No. 3 spot. But even Virginia Wesleyan, the preseason No. 2, has someone who thinks they should be No. 20. Just like No. 23 UW-Oshkosh has someone who thinks they are the preseason No. 4.

All of this adds up to what's likely to be an amazing season in Division III men's basketball! Check out the full poll, including others receiving votes.