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Top 50 Programs of Recent History - NAIA Division I

OCU returns All-American sharpshooter Lauren Gober for the 2011-12 campaign
OCU returns All-American sharpshooter Lauren Gober for the 2011-12 campaign

After James's NCAA Top 100 programs in recent history post, I decided to try to do the same with the Top 50 programs in NAIA Division I recent history. I cannot even pretend to know all about the NAIA's top programs, so I decided utilize my own mathematical musings to come to some conclusions based on the numbers. Now, I know that the NAIA isn't exactly a hotbed that our traditional Swish Appeal readers follow on the regular, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start paying attention to teams in your area now.

Similar to the football BCS that everyone loves to hate, the final order was determined by three distinct parts, and two of which are human-based. I also went back five years (like James did) and factored in the average of the last five final season coaches polls for 1/3 of the tally. The other 1/3 with human involvement is the last five tournament results, with teams getting points based on how far they advanced in the NAIA Division I Championships.

The third and final piece of the overall score was this season's preseason Massey Ratings, released this week. If you don't already know, in football the Massey Ratings are one of the computer programs used in the BCS system. Massey takes numerous factors into account and uses complex statistical formulas to reach his final order.

The factors that go into the Massey rating system for basketball are:

·         Power - estimated strength of the team
·         Offense
·         Defense
·         Home-court advantage
·         Strength of schedule
·         (As the season progresses, expected wins and losses are also factored in)

One thing to note about the NAIA is it's in constant flux, with teams entering from NAIA Division II or exiting to move up to NCAA Division II. It appears Massey only took into account schools that are not in the exit process, so you'll see names like Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Union (Tenn.) off the list despite their virtual dominance in the recent past, including a 1-2 in the 2012 preseason poll. Other schools like Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), Southern Nazarene (Okla.), Shorter (Ga.) and Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) surely would have appeared in the Top 50 as well, had they not been in the transition to the ranks of the NCAA.

To compile the list, I started with Massey's ratings. As for how accurate the computer is when it comes to NAIA women's basketball, I have not the foggiest clue. So if you see a team left off the list that should be there, the Massey Ratings are the first place I'd look to try to decipher why the team is omitted.

I went ahead and drew the list out to the Top 50, however the numbers indicate many in the bottom 1/3 could be reasonably moved up or down, or replaced by other worthy programs. Particularly with the lower portion of the list, I have not much (or sometimes not at all) knowledge at all of the programs. But the numbers put them there, and who doesn't like to see their names on a fun list? I've added comments on some teams based on facts gleaned from the 2011 NAIA tournament press book or first-hand knowledge.

The first number you'll see listed on each school is the program's overall score by my maths, followed by Massey's 2011 computerized preseason rating. If the team is ranked in the current preseason Top 25, that will be listed third. The numbers are there so perhaps you can gauge the distance between programs. Or you might use the numbers to see how their recent history program number correlates to their 2012 projections. Other than that, the numbers are probably there so you can see that, yes indeed, I used numbers to compile the list (despite my homerism for #2, OCU).

For context and reference there are 271 NAIA member institutions (including those in transition elsewhere) and 112 of these schools participate in NAIA Division I women's basketball and are listed on the 2011-12 posteason qualification plan. So without further ado:

1.       Vanguard (Calif.)
Overall program score - 7.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 7th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 10th
The Lions have not missed a postseason tournament since 2001. Since 2003, Vanguard has won one championship, advanced the the semifinals twice and have finished as quarterfinalists three times.

2.       Oklahoma City
Overall program score - 7.93; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 2nd; 2012 Preseason Poll - 3rd
OCU has five national championships, three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes in their 17 appearances at the national tournament. All-American guard Donica Cosby's presence is sure to be missed, but the Stars return many other weapons in All-American Lauren Gober, along with Taylor Booze, Tiffany Goldwire and others. OCU is slated to win the Sooner Athletic Conference.

3.       Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Overall program score - 9.33; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 4th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 7th
Lose 2011 Player of the Week for Jan. 25 Meribeth Boehler to matriculation. The Lady Lions have not missed a postseason tournament in the last 15 seasons. Third-team All-American Natalie Shumpert is entering her junior season.

4.       Lewis-Clark (Idaho)
Overall program score - 11.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating -6th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 5th
Since 1997, the Warriors have only missed one postseason tournament, in 2004. Jasmine Stohr returns, a 2011 All-American.

5.       St. Xavier (Ill.)
Overall program score - 12.4; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 9th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 13th
Have made nine straight trips to the NAIA tournament.

6.       Shawnee State (Ohio)
Overall program score - 12.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 10th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 4th
2011 was the first season the Bears competed at the NAIA Division I level, after moving up from NAIA Division II. Shawnee State made it to the 2011 semifinals. Abby Ballman, who will be a senior for the Bears, was a 2011 third-team All-American.

7.       Lubbock Christian (Texas)
Overall program score - 13.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 11th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 17th
The Lubbock Christian Lady Chaps have made eight straight appearances in the NAIA tournament, including a trip to the quarterfinals in 2008 and the semifinals in 2006.

8.       Lee (Tenn.)
Overall program score - 14.7; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 9th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 15th
The Lee Lady Flames have been to the last seven NAIA tournaments, including a trip to the semifinals in 2010.

9.   Westminster (Utah)
Overall program score - 12.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 10th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 9th
2011 marked the Griffins fifth-straight postseason appearance after winning their third-consecutive Frontier Conference regular-season title.

10.   Campbellsville (Ky.)
Overall program score - 18.2; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 1st; 2012 Preseason Poll - 8th
The services of Whitney Ballenger are sure to be missed. The Player of the Week for Feb.22 passed the 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound mark for the Lady Tigers. Campbellsville has 19 tournament appearances under its belt

11.   Southern Polytechnic (Ga.)
Overall program score - 19.1; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 16th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV
Will be without Marisa Stotler, a 2011 Player of the Week in February after averaging 32.5 points on 68.6 percent shooting and 17.0 rebounds for the week. The Hornets have made the last two NAIA tournament fields.

12.   Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Overall program score - 19.2; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 12th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 14th
The Blue Raiders lose their program's all-time leading rebounder, Viktoria Krell. But junior NAIA All-American Ashley Rainey looks to pick up where she left off as a conference-leader in shooting percentage.

13.   Langston (Okla.)
Overall program score - 19.5; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 21st; 2012 Preseason Poll - 19th
Langston with be without center Stephanie Madden who was a senior last year. The Lady Lions made it to the 2007 quarterfinals and have been in the postseason each of the last five years.

14.   Biola (Calif.)
Overall program score - 23.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 3rd; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV
Biola is riding a three-season streak of NAIA tournament appearances.

15.   Bethel (Tenn.)
Overall program score - 23.3; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 8th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 6th
Bethel returns sophomore Molly Wallsmith, an all-conference selection, from last season's squad. Head coach Chris Nelson was also all-conference coach in 2011. Last year was the Lady Wildcats third consecutive postseason appearance.

16.   Columbia (Mo.)
Overall program score - 23.3; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 14th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 18th
Senior Amanda Phillips led the NAIA last season in total blocks. The Cougars have been to four of the last five posteason tournaments.

17.   Cumberlands (Ky.)
Overall program score - 24.7; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 24th
Cumberlands will have the service of 2011 third-team All-American an senior Lauren Wombles.

18.   Oklahoma Baptist
Overall program score - 24.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 30th

19.   Westmont (Calif.)
Overall program score - 25.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 13th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 20th
The Warriors have made four of the last five NAIA tournaments.

20.   Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)
Overall program score - 26.1; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 5th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 12th
The Tigers' explosive offense scored over 100 points in 23 contests in 2011.

21.   Xavier (La.)
Overall program score - 26.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 23rd; 2012 Preseason Poll - 16th
The Gold Rush made their 16th NAIA tournament in 2011, but have only managed a 6-14 record since 1994.

22.   Georgetown (Ky.)
Overall program score - 28.5; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 27th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

23.   The Masters (Calif.)
Overall program score - 30.4; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 20th ; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

24.   William Woods (Mo.)
Overall program score - 31.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 25th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 23rd
The Owls made their third consecutive postseason field in 2011.

25.   Carroll (Mont.)
Overall program score - 31.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 29th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

26.   Avila (Mo.)
Overall program score - 32.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 45th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV
The Avila Eagles made their first appearance in the NAIA postseason tournament in 2011

27.   Evangel (Mo.)
Overall program score - 32.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 22nd; 2012 Preseason Poll - 22nd
The Crusaders have made it to three consecutive postseason tournaments, but have never won a game.

28.   Rogers State (Okla.)
Overall program score - 33.5; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 15th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 24th
The Hillcats made their first trip to the NAIA postseason tournament in 2011 after starting their program in the spring of 2007. Angie Criner picked up 2011 third-team All-American honors, and will be a senior at Rogers State.

29.   Oklahoma Christian
Overall program score - 34.3; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 33rd

30.   Loyola - New Orleans (La.)
Overall program score - 34.5; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 41st; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

31.   Montana Tech
Overall program score - 36.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 26th
Montana Tech returns last season's freshman phenom Kelse Dewit, who was Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 15. The Orediggers have made the field of 32 for the last two seasons.

32.   Texas Wesleyan
Overall program score - 38.9; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 37th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV
Senior Octavia Mullins set a single-season school record in 2011 with 344 rebounds.

33.   Concordia (Ca.)
Overall program score - 39.3; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 18th

34.   John Brown (Ark.)
Overall program score - 40.1; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 28th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

35.   Wayland Baptist (Texas)
Overall program score - 40.2; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 31st; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

36.   Robert Morris (Ill.)
Overall program score - 42.5; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 35th; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

37.   Lyon (Ark.)
Overall program score - 43.4; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 36th

38.   Belhaven (Miss.)
Overall program score - 43.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 39th; 2012 Preseason Poll - 25th
The Blazers notched their first 20-win season since 1982 last year, earning their first appearance in the National Tournament. Regena Jackson, a 2011 third-team All-American will be a senior.

39.   Montana State-Northern
Overall program score - 43.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 40th

40.   LSU-Shreveport
Overall program score - 43.8; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 47th
Return at 2011 Player of the Week in senior Sharday Cotton. Cotton posted double-doubles of 18 points, 21 rebounds and 22 points, 10 rebounds in the second week of the season

41.   Rio Grande (W. Va.)
Overall program score - 44.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 32nd

42.   Montana Western
Overall program score - 44.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 44th

43.   Indiana-South Bend
Overall program score - 44.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 34th

44.   Martin Methodist (Tenn.)
Overall program score - 45.2; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 42nd
Senior Vee Young was a 2011 third-team All-American.

45.   Hope International (Calif.)
Overall program score - 46.0; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 38th

46.   Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
Overall program score - 47.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 43rd; 2012 Preseason Poll - RV

47.   San Diego Christian (Calif.)
Overall program score - 48.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 46th

48.   Pikeville (Ky.)
Overall program score - 49.3; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 48th

49.   Mid-America Christian (Okla.)
Overall program score - 49.6; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 49th

50.   Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)
Overall program score - 50; 2011 preseason Massey Rating - 50th