HARROGATE, Tenn. - For the fourth time in program history and the third time in the past four seasons, the Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team finds itself back atop the NCAA Division II national rankings. Riding a dominant eight-game winning streak, the Railsplitters (19-1) have moved up to No. 1 in both the NABC/Division II coaches poll and the D2SIDA media rankings that were released on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Coach Josh Schertz (picture) and his LMU club sit on top of the national polls for the first time since the 2015-16 team ended the season there and made a trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship. Prior to that, the Railsplitters started 20-0 and climbed all the way to No. 1 during the 2014-15 campaign. LMU earned its first-ever No. 1 national ranking in January 2012 after reeling off 15 consecutive wins. The Railsplitters are 19-1 this season with their only loss coming at a neutral site against defending national champions Northwest Missouri State, who were the No. 1 team in the country at the time of that defeat and still sit at No. 6 in both of this week's polls. Lincoln Memorial has won eight consecutive games since that setback to the Bearcats. That stretch, which includes a 73-72 win at then No. 1 ranked Queens, has been particularly dominant of late, as the Railsplitters have won their last four games by 44, 33, 29 and 39 points, respectively. LMU has won 27 consecutive South Atlantic Conference contests - the second-longest streak of its kind in league history behind the 29 straight the Railsplitters won from 2014-16. In addition to that, the Railsplitters have won 18 consecutive home games and 17 straight on the road. The Railsplitters have been impressive on both ends of the floor this season to say the least. In fact, Lincoln Memorial leads the country in both field-goal percentage defense and offense, which has helped the Railsplitters win by a nation-leading 29.2 points per game. In the NABC poll, Lincoln Memorial received 14 of the 16 first-place votes to finish well ahead of No. 2 Queens, No. 3 Ferris State, No. 4 Western Oregon and No. 5 West Liberty. Northwest Missouri State, Morehouse, UT-Permian Basin, Bellarmine and West Texas A&M round out the top 10. The D2SIDA rankings look much the same with the Railsplitters receiving 14 of the 16 first-place votes. Ferris State is ahead of Queens, though, at No. 2, while West Liberty and Western Oregon round out the top five. The remainder of the top 10 consists of Northwest Missouri State, UT-Permian Basin, Morehouse, Findlay and West Texas A&M. The Railsplitters are back in action on Wednesday night when they travel to Mars Hill, N.C. to face the Mars Hill Lions in SAC action. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught