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Top 50 Programs of Recent History: NCAA Division II

After the smashing success that was the Top 100 NCAA programs list by James and the Top 50 NAIA programs list, I have decided to undertake an NCAA Division II women's basketball list!

Again, the rankings are based solely on math, but the formula is a little different. The NCAA doesn't archive polls, so rather than having a poll element as a prominent piece of the maths, only the 2012 preseason poll is included. The poll makes up only 1/7th of the final score, with five of the other pieces directly relating to tournament finish over the past five seasons (hence, recent history). The last piece of the formula relates to the team's 2012 preseason Massey Ratings.

Massey takes numerous factors into account and uses complex statistical formulas, factoring in:

·         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)

My list of 50 relies on Massey having a better grasp of intangibles (like home court advantage and strength of schedule) and tangibles (like scoring offense and defense) at this level of women's basketball than I do. Just like with the NAIA list, I don't expect this is a perfect formulation by any means. But it is something to get you thinking about other divisions of the sport, particularly when some of your favorite Division I teams just faced off with some of these schools - I'm looking at you Wake Forest (Tusculum, as you will see, made this list).

The numbers are there so you can see the spacing from one team to the next, and how schools are potentially projected to do this season. You will notice some teams with low/no preseason rank have made their way up this list, a strong indicator that while this team might not be a worldbeater currently, the recent past has shined good fortune upon their school. The reverse instance (high rank, lower on the list) is also seen in this Top 50.

Even though I can't speak with a lot of knowledge on specific teams, I do feel like I know a thing or two about athletes who bust their bums to compete in college. It's nice to be recognized and rewarded for your hard work - even if it's just a mention on a list. So, without further ado ....

1. Delta State | Cleveland, Miss.
Overall rating: 10.57 - 2012 Massey: 13  - 2012 preseason: 5
Delta State has finished no lower than a Sweet 16 appearance in the last five seasons and will be led by senior All-American Veronica Walker. They've earned three titles, a runner up and have finished 3rd four times in 23 tournament tries.

2. Clayton State | Morrow, Ga.
Overall rating: 13.57 - 2012 Massey: 1  - 2012 preseason: 1
It's nice to be the defending champions if you're Clayton State. They've made the last five tournament fields, but none was so sweet as last seasons title year.

3. Alaska-Anchorage
Overall rating: 19.57 - 2012 Massey: 21  - 2012 preseason: 12
Have made it out of the first round each of the past five seasons, and advanced to the Final Four in 2008 and 2009. Senior Hannah Johansson was a 2011 honorable-mention All-American.

4. Arkansas Tech | Russellville, Ark.
Overall rating: 24 - 2012 Massey: 9  - 2012 preseason: 4
Coming off back-to-back Elite Eight seasons. Natalia Santos, a 2011 honorable-mention All-American, will be a senior for the team.

5. Washburn | Topeka, Kan.
Overall rating: 25.28 - 2012 Massey: 14  - 2012 preseason: 11
Have made each of the last five tournament fields, but did not advance out of the first round last season.

6. Michigan Tech | Houghton, Mich.
Overall rating: 26.85 - 2012 Massey: 3  - 2012 preseason: 3
The 2011 runner-ups finished in the round of eight in both 2009 and 2010. Michigan Tech has made the tournament field 16 times.

7. Seattle Pacific (Wash.)
Overall rating: 30.28 - 2012 Massey: 33  - 2012 preseason: 43
Could not advance out of the opening round in 2011, but have not missed a tournament bid since 1996.

8. Drury | Springfield, Mo.
Overall rating: 31.14 - 2012 Massey: 41  - 2012 preseason: 25

9. Lander | Greenwood, S.C.
Overall rating: 34.28 - 2012 Massey: 2  - 2012 preseason: 10
Jasmine Judge will be a senior for Lander, and was a 2011 All-American honorable mention.

10. Bentley | Waltham, Mass.
Overall rating: 35.14 - 2012 Massey: 28  - 2012 preseason: 2
Only missed one tournament since 1987, and that was in 2006. Reached the final eight in 2011.

11. Franklin Pierce | Rindge, N.H.
Overall rating: 35.42 - 2012 Massey: 48  - 2012 preseason: 22
Jewel White, a senior, was tapped to the All-American honorable mention list in 2011.

12. Ft. Lewis | Durango, Colo.
Overall rating: 36.57 - 2012 Massey: 4  - 2012 preseason: 6
After finishing second in 2010, Fort Lewis was a No. 1 seed upset in the 2011 tournament. Return senior Dana Schreibvogel, an All-American honorable mention in 2011.

13. Emporia State (Kan.)
Overall rating: 37.71 - 2012 Massey: 22  - 2012 preseason: 29

14. Holy Family | Philadelphia
Overall rating: 40.71 - 2012 Massey: 82  - 2012 preseason: NR

15. California College of Pennsylvania
Overall rating: 41 - 2012 Massey: 68  - 2012 preseason: NR

16. California-San Diego
Overall rating: 41.57 - 2012 Massey: 46  - 2012 preseason: 13

17. Central Oklahoma | Edmond, Okla.
Overall rating: 44 - 2012 Massey: 44  - 2012 preseason: 36

18. Tampa (Fla.)
Overall rating: 44.71 - 2012 Massey: 18  - 2012 preseason: 39

19. NW Missouri | Maryville, Mo.
Overall rating: 46  - 2012 Massey: 7  - 2012 preseason: 15

20. West Texas A&M | Canyon, Texas
Overall rating: 47.57 - 2012 Massey: 56  - 2012 preseason: 41

21. Wayne State (Neb.)
Overall rating: 49.28 - 2012 Massey: 9  - 2012 preseason: 9
Return senior All-American Ashley Arlan to the squad. She is just one of two non-seniors to receive All-American recognition in 2011.

22. Quincy (Ill.)
Overall rating: 49.85 - 2012 Massey: 23  - 2012 preseason: 30

23. Concordia-Saint Paul (Minn.)
Overall rating: 49.85 - 2012 Massey: 25  - 2012 preseason: 48

24. South Carolina-Aiken
Overall rating: 55.42 - 2012 Massey: 11  - 2012 preseason: 17

25. Tusculum | Greeneville, Tenn.
Overall rating: 55.42 - 2012 Massey: 27  - 2012 preseason: 57

26. Metro State | Denver, Colo.
Overall rating: 55.57 - 2012 Massey: 10  - 2012 preseason: 7

27. Northeastern Oklahoma | Tahlequah, Okla.
Overall rating: 55.57 - 2012 Massey: 24  - 2012 preseason: 24

28. Cal State Polytechnic-Pomona
Overall rating: 58.57 - 2012 Massey: 19  - 2012 preseason: 19
A 2011 elite eight appearance begins to get them back on the track of historical success. CSPP has earned five titles and three runner ups in in 22 tournament trips.

29. Grand Canyon | Phoenix, Ariz.
Overall rating: 58.71 - 2012 Massey: 17  - 2012 preseason: 14

30. Francis Marion | Florence, S.C.
Overall rating: 60.14 - 2012 Massey: 34  - 2012 preseason: NR

31. Wisconsin-Parkside | Kenosha, Wisc.
Overall rating: 60.28 - 2012 Massey: 26  - 2012 preseason: 16

32. Shaw | Raleigh, N.C.
Overall rating: 61.42 - 2012 Massey: 54  - 2012 preseason: 8
A No. 8 seed in the 2011 tournament, Shaw upended a No. 1 in the first round and advanced as far as the Final Four becoming one of last season's Cindarellas.

33. Pace | New York/Westchester County
Overall rating: 62.42 - 2012 Massey: 50  - 2012 preseason: NR

34. Stonehill | North Easton, Mass.
Overall rating: 62.42 - 2012 Massey: 118  - 2012 preseason: NR
Stonehill has 20 postseason tournament appearances, but missed the cut in 2011.

35. Western Washington | Bellingham, Wash.
Overall rating: 62.85 - 2012 Massey: 15  - 2012 preseason: 33

36. Cal State-Chico
Overall rating: 63.28 - 2012 Massey: 104  - 2012 preseason: NR

37. Tarleton State | Stephenville, Texas
Overall rating: 64.42 - 2012 Massey: 35  - 2012 preseason: 20
Shelby Adamson, an All-American honorable mention, is a senior for Tarleton State.

38. Grand Valley State | Allendale, Mich.
Overall rating: 64.42 - 2012 Massey: 38  - 2012 preseason: 21
Have a pair of junior All-Americans on the squad in Alex Stelfox and Briauna Taylor, both 2011 honorable mentions. 

39. Valdosta State (Ga.)
Overall rating: 65 - 2012 Massey: 136  - 2012 preseason: NR

40. Northern State | Aberdeen, S.D.
Overall rating: 65.28 - 2012 Massey: 49  - 2012 preseason: NR

41. Augustana | Sioux Falls, S.D.
Overall rating: 66.14 - 2012 Massey: 53  - 2012 preseason: 50

42. Wingate (N.C.)
Overall rating: 66.42 - 2012 Massey: 58  - 2012 preseason: 35

43. Indianapolis (Ind.)
Overall rating: 66.57 - 2012 Massey: 47  - 2012 preseason: NR

44. Anderson (S.C.)
Overall rating: 67.57 - 2012 Massey: 131  - 2012 preseason: NR

45. Northern Kentucky | Highland Heights, Ky.
Overall rating: 67.71 - 2012 Massey: 39  - 2012 preseason: NR

46. Ouachita Baptist | Arkadelphia, Ark.
Overall rating: 69.71 - 2012 Massey: 55  - 2012 preseason: 53

47. Adams State | Alamosa, Colo.
Overall rating: 70.28 - 2012 Massey: 37  - 2012 preseason: NR

48. Florida Tech | Melbourne, Fla.
Overall rating: 71.42 - 2012 Massey: 29  - 2012 preseason: NR

49. Georgia C&S | Milledgeville, Ga.
Overall rating: 72.42 - 2012 Massey: 16  - 2012 preseason: NR

50. Cal State-Monterrey Bay
Overall rating: 72.85 - 2012 Massey: 32  - 2012 preseason: 46

**Azusa Pacific (Calif.), Union (Tenn.) and California Baptist are all listed in the 2012 Massey Ratings though they are competing in the NAIA this season and are currently transitioning to DII. Azusa's rating is 12th, Union comes in fifth and Cal Baptist rates 59th. In the NAIA poll, Azusa leads the pack followed closely by Union in the top two spots.