The standouts in NCAA Division II
The GIST: About 14K athletes compete at the NCAA’s 313 DII schools, with top stars making the big leagues (particularly the NBA and NFL) — though that’s becoming rarer: With the transfer portal, it’s easier than ever for DII’s best to jump to a DI school. Nonetheless, some of the country’s best talent thrives on DII courts and fields.
The powerhouses: The chokehold Barry University has on DII tennis is unmatched. The Miami school’s men’s squad has won four straight national championships, and their women have snagged a staggering six (!!!) in a row. So much iconic tennis in the Magic City.
- Three other teams pulled off repeats last year: Ferris State football and Pittsburg State men’s outdoor track & field did it twice, while Adams State women’s cross country did it thrice.
- And while DII hasn’t seen a back-to-back softball champ this millennium (hello, parity!), 2023 victor North Georgia’s dominant run plus tons of returning talent have sparked whispers they could break the cycle.
The open pool: Queens University of Charlotte, NC, had the DII swimming & diving market cornered for years, sweeping seven straight men’s and women’s team titles. But when the Lions leaped to DI last year, they opened the door for two first-time champs, and it was Nova Southeastern’s women and UIndy’s men who made a splash.
The newbies: Last year’s four other first-timers all won in record-breaking fashion — baseball champ Angelo State slid in with a record-setting season, Nova Southeastern men’s basketball capped an undefeated season with the highest-scoring championship game ever, and Pace women’s lacrosse did the same with their 19 title-game goals.
- And with the second-most goals in title game history, Lenoir-Rhyne men’s lacrosse became the first No. 5 seed to bag the ’ship — the school’s first-ever natty in any sport. Talk about some premium gouda.
Our fave moment: This March, Ashland women’s basketball’s undefeated season ended with the program’s third national title. What made it so special? Head coach Kari Pickens had a hand in all three ’ships: She won the first as a player in 2013 and the second as an assistant coach in 2017. All she does is win win win, no matter what.