The 2021-2022 Landscape of Junior College Basketball

The 2021-2022 Landscape of Junior College Basketball

By: Nic Nielsen

JUCOWeekly Contributor

 

The NJCAA Selection Committee has made it abundantly clear that you can no longer hide in your conference and get an at-large bid. Your schedule matters. I believe that it will be nearly impossible to get one of the eight at-large bids to the national tournament without an impressive non-conference schedule. I think it might be better to be 23-7 with a fantastic schedule than 28-2 playing a soft schedule.

 While challenging, many of the top programs in the country are finding a way to play each other, and the junior college product will benefit.

While not all-encompassing, I would like to highlight five programs with impressive schedules that put themselves in a position to receive an at-large bid should they not win their District tournament.

 Harcum

Coach Drew Kelly has built a powerhouse in the northeast. The problem is that there are very few D1 NJCAA programs near the Bears.

 The Bears went on the road and toured Region 24, picking up wins over Shawnee, Vincennes, and Lincoln Trail.

 In December, they bring in Eastern Florida State before traveling to the Brunswick CC to play Cape Fear, Brunswick, and Richard Bland.  

 Harcum is a program that is doing everything possible to bolster its strength of schedule.

 

Georgia Highlands

Always one of the best JUCO programs in the southeast, Coach JJ Merritt and staff deserve bonus points for putting together a fantastic schedule.

Between November 20th and December 31st, the Chargers play nine games against Florida teams.

  • State College of Florida x2
  • Chipola x2
  • Indian River
  • Eastern Florida State
  • Gulf Coast x2
  • Northwest Florida State

 

Eastern Florida State

Coach Jeremy Shulman and the Titans have a history of going anywhere to find a great game. This season is no different.

  • Chipola
  • State College of Florida
  • Snow
  • South Georgia Tech
  • Georgia Highlands
  • Harcum
  • Shelton State

 

Indian Hills

Coach Hank Plona and the Warriors also have a history of playing great competition.

  • Tyler
  • Butler
  • Missouri State-West Plains
  • Moberly
  • Casper
  • NEO A&M
  • John A. Logan
  • Vincennes
  • Three games in Mesa, AZ, starting with New Mexico

 

John A. Logan

Coach Kyle Smithpeters created arguably the most challenging schedule in the country. They only have one home game in November.

  • Mineral Area (neutral court)
  • at Three Rivers
  • Northeast Mississippi (neutral court)
  • East Mississippi (neutral court)
  • at Mineral Area
  • Three Rivers
  • Indian Hills (neutral court)
  • Triton (neutral court)
  • Moberly (neutral court)

 

On The Court

The first two weeks of the season have been terrific. Upset after upset has occurred. We won't know who the top 25 teams are until January 1st (at the earliest). It is easy to overreact to November losses. The NJCAA Poll has historically bludgeoned teams. Odessa lost their first two games of the year at Hutchinson, KS, to Hutchinson and Barton (both undefeated at this writing). I will not throw in the towel on the Wranglers or other talented teams in my poll.

 

Top 5 (11/14/2021)

  1. Salt Lake
  2. John A. Logan
  3. Eastern Florida State
  4. Harcum
  5. Chipola

 

Co-Player of the Week

  • Sean East (John A. Logan)
  • Brody Boyer (Eastern Florida State)

 

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