DII basketball: Here’s what we learned in the season’s first half and who to watch as the NCAA tournament nears

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The first half of the DII men’s basketball season is in the books. That left us with many a first impression on players and teams who seem ready to make a run in March come tournament time.MORE: We picked a starting five based on the first half stats

Let’s take a look at some takeaways from the first half and what to watch for as the postseason picture begins to focus. 

Northwest Missouri State is insanely good

We knew the Bearcats were going to be good, but just how good they are is impressive. This is a team that not only lost arguably its best player in program history in Justin Pitts but one of DII basketball’s all-time great scorers. Add on the loss of Chris-Ebou Ndow and Brett Dougherty, and three of the 2017-18 Bearcats top scorers were gone.

Apparently, that hasn’t bothered Northwest Missouri State one bit.

Another 💪🏾 outing for Trevor Hudgins!👉🏾: Conference Road Win👉🏾: 2️⃣2️⃣ Points👉🏾: 8️⃣ Assists👉🏾: 0️⃣ Turnovers pic.twitter.com/kBZDB8pzOa
— MOKAN Basketball (@MokanBasketball) January 4, 2019

The Bearcats are the only team in the DII basketball top 20 in both scoring average (88.9 points per game) and points allowed (62.9 points per game), giving them a DII-best 27.2 points per game margin of victory. While redshirt-freshman Trevor Hudgins is as steady and reliable as it comes in scoring, Ryan Hawkins has become a DII star. He’s averaging nearly a double-double (17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds per game) and has set, and then re-set, his season-high in scoring in two consecutive games with 29 and 31 points. Seems like the sophomore big man may be just getting started.

MORE: Track the remaining undefeated DII men’s basketball teams

Jim Crutchfield’s system works at Nova Southeastern, too

Neither the NABC nor the D2SIDA poll had Nova Southeastern in the top 10 coming into this season, but we did. While the Sharks …

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