The University of the Cumberlands (UC) Men's Basketball team celebrated the New Year this week as the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 poll was announced Tuesday, ranking the Patriots as the top team in the nation.
Cumberlands totaled seven first-place votes, climbing up one spot from the previous poll which was announced back in December of 2012. This is only the second time, according to the NAIA, that Cumberlands has been ranked the top team in the country. The last time the Patriots found themselves on top of the polls occurred Dec. 8, 2008.
The Patriots are currently 15-1 overall and 6-0 in Mid-South Conference play. In one of the strongest conferences in the country, the Patriots have demonstrated a well-balanced team attack with 5 players scoring double-digit figures on the offensive side of the court. Ranking #7 in the country in total scoring offense and points per game as well as 6th in team rebounding, the Patriots offensive performance has not only proved efficient but has brought their fans in the O. Wayne Rollins Center to their feet for flashy play multiple times. While their quick transition basketball keeps fans on the edge of their seats, it is their defensive play which has pushed the Patriots into the #1 position. Ranking #3 in nation in blocks per game and total blocks, the Patriots pride themselves on defense and believe it is the key to winning a National Championship.
While the Patriots lead the polls to kick off the year, two other teams from the Mid-South Conference also grace the Top 25 list. The University of Pikeville fell one spot this week, dropping from #4 to #5, while Lindsey Wilson went from #8 to #14.
Moving up four spots, No. 2 Columbia (Mo.) collected the remaining four first-place nods to go along with 265 points. The Cougars, who are one of two undefeated teams remaining, are listed in the top five for the first time since 2004.
No. 3 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) vaulted up eight spots courtesy of an 18-0 start. Previous No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Baptist falls down to the fourth spot. Pikeville (Ky.) slips back to No. 5 with 254 points.
On Thursday, January 10th, it will be the tale of 2 teams in one league with 30 plus wins and only 2 loses vying for the conference and nation's bragging rights. The game tips at 8 pm at the Expo Center in Pikeville as the University of Pikeville Bears host the University of the Cumberlands Patriots.
For more information on the Patriot basketball team as well as other Patriot athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.