PIKEVILLE – The University of Pikeville Bears are the consensus No. 2 team in the country in this week’s NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, released Tuesday by the national office in Kansas City, Mo.
Pikeville was second on all 11 ballots behind the new unanimous No. 1. Columbia (Mo.), the nation’s only undefeated team at 17-0, is atop the poll.
At 17-1 on the season and 7-1 in the conference, no team in the Commonwealth has a longer win streak than Pikeville’s 10 straight.
The Bears lead the country in three statistical categories, including points per game. No team averages more than their 97.1 points. The Bears are also No. 1 in assists, averaging 21.1 per game, and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.541:1.
The Bears moved up three places thanks to a convincing 80-64 win over then-No. 1 Cumberlands on Thursday, followed on Saturday with a 105-56 win over Cumberland (Tenn.) University.
That, combined with losses by No. 3 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist allowed the Bears to leap forward.
Coach Kelly Wells’ team has never been rated higher in a regular-season poll. After the 2011 national title, the Bears opened at No. 1 in the 2011-12 preseason ratings.
After losing to Pikeville, Cumberlands also fell to U.Va.-Wise on Saturday and dropped from atop last week’s poll to No. 14.
Columbia and UPIKE are followed by Lewis-Clark State, William Carey (Miss.) and OBU in the Top 5. Lee (Tenn.) and Westmont (Calif.) are next. Mid-South member Lindsey Wilson is tied for eighth with Cal State-San Marcos, while John Brown (Ark.) completes the Top 10.
The Bears were hosting St. Catharine College at the East Kentucky Expo Center on Thursday in the second game of a doubleheader with the women. Both Pikeville-St. Catharine games ended too late to make this edition.
On Saturday, the Bears will host Georgetown College at 4 p.m.