Railsplitters move to No. 5 in national polls

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Lincoln Memorial University men’s basketball team has broken back into the top five of both of this week’s national polls, moving to No. 5 in the NABC/Division II rankings as well as the D2SIDA top 25 media poll.

The Railsplitters (14-1) put forth a couple of dominant efforts last week to improve to 8-0 in South Atlantic Conference play. Lincoln Memorial kicked off the week by crushing the Anderson Trojans 87-54 and followed that up with a 120-74 beatdown of the Coker Cobras. Those two wins both came at Tex Turner Arena, where the Railsplitters are 38-1 since the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Northwest Missouri State – the previous unanimous No. 1 ranked team in the country – suffered its first loss of the season last week. By virtue of that, the Railsplitters will face the nation’s top-ranked team for the second time in five games, as Queens moved up to No. 1 in the NABC rankings – the official NCAA Division II poll.

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The Royals were slotted at No. 2 in the D2SIDA rankings. The Railsplitters and Royals will meet in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday in a battle of the last remaining teams without a loss in SAC play. Queens, who sits at 15-0 on the season and 7-0 in league play, will face Newberry on Wednesday before hosting Lincoln Memorial.

In the NABC rankings, Queens was followed by Bellarmine, West Liberty, Northwest Missouri State and Lincoln Memorial. The rest of the top 10 consisted of UT-Permian Basin, Ferris State, West Texas A&M, Northern State and Western Oregon. Lincoln Memorial and Queens are the only SAC teams represented in the top 25, but Carson-Newman is receiving votes.

Bellarmine took the top spot in the D2SIDA media poll, and the Knights were followed by Queens, West Liberty, Northwest Missouri State and Lincoln Memorial. No. 6 Ferris State, No. 7 UT-Permian Basin, No. 8 Northern State, No. 9 West Chester and No. 10 Barry rounded out the top 10. Carson-Newman did break into the top 25 of the media rankings at No. 20.

The Railsplitters will return to action on Saturday for that top-five showdown at Queens, which will also serve as a rematch of last season’s Sweet 16. After that, Lincoln Memorial travels to Carson-Newman next Wednesday to face the rival Eagles. The Railsplitters won’t return to Tex Turner Arena until welcoming the Tusculum Pioneers to town on Jan. 24.