At a meeting of church and state, the nation dropped the hammer last night.
Portland State University is a member of the Big Sky Conference. The Vikings men’s basketball team is just 4 wins and 4 losses this season, but has beaten Oregon State University twice. Last night the Vikings played Portland Bible College, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II. The school, run by Mannahouse, a non-denominational Christian megachurch, awards only degrees in religion. The latest enrollment figures I could find were from ten years ago, when the school had 415 students. Last night’s basketball team consisted of only six players.
Somehow, this game is even worse than you think. Portland State scored its first 38 points of the game to take a 63-9 halftime lead and beat the Arrows 114-31. “Not the highest winning percentage in school history, nor the lowest opponent total,” notes the Portland State team website. Portland State did fall six points short of the most starting streak; Southern scored its first 44 points in a 116-12 win over Champion Christian College in 2013.
There will always be basketball mismatches and lopsided scores. But even by those standards, it’s a completely one-sided affair. These types of games happen more often because NCAA Division I basketball teams realize that playing non-Division I opponents can benefit them in many ways. Ken Pomeroy, basketball statistics expert and friend of Defector, was kind enough to share this chart.
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There’s a reason why this has been the case over the past two years: when a game is called off due to covid, a non-League 1 team usually steps in as a stand-in opponent. But that total hasn’t dropped this year, although so far there have been no cancellations due to the pandemic. In 2004, according to Pomeroy, 297 of the 4,634 games played were between Division I teams and non-Division Division one teams (6.4%). This year it was 497 of 5,805 games played (8.6%). There are more than 200 games in each season!
For an NCAA Division I team, it makes sense to schedule games against lower-division schools. If a top conference program plays a middling school, even if they win by 100 points, that game usually hurts the top school. Compromising schedule strength can hurt computer numbers, which can hurt chances of making it to the NCAA Tournament or getting a preferential seed.
but a game against school no Essentially, one of my department’s 363 programs doesn’t count. Schools could even exempt certain games against non-Division One teams from the maximum number of games allowed. Unlike strong teams playing weak teams in the First Division, this kind of game doesn’t really hurt the feelings of the strong teams. These games do not count toward any numbers used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. But the school can beat low-caliber opponents, its players can pad their individual stats, and teams suffer no penalty other than embarrassment if they happen to lose. (Games usually no Include non-Division 1 schools in their rankings or statistics. “I suspect there is also a statistical reason for wrinkles,” Pomeroy wrote in 2016. “If the Scarlet Eagles knew that the 137 points they gave up would be included in the … statistical rankings, Illinois Tech would be less likely to play against Chicago State.”)
The NCAA and the conference have some rules for this. For example, the West Coast Conference said schools could only play two games against non-Division One opponents. The NCAA has specific guidelines for what constitutes a “countable opponent”: it must be a four-year degree-granting institution, it must have a varsity team, and it needs to be accredited by one of several academic governing bodies. The NCAA even released a list of schools do not Do the math to see if a team is going to play them. For example, NCAA teams cannot currently be counted against Saint Patriotic University (Beaumont, TX), Judiciary College (Chandler, AZ), Forest Trail Athletic University (Concord, NC) or Chosen University ( Fayetteville, North Carolina) because the NCAA said they did not meet accreditation or membership requirements.
The experience isn’t so bad for lower-tier teams, either. Their kids will take a hit, of course, but they can also play in a Division I gym. Sometimes lower level teams get better too! Earlier in the week, the Southern team played again against champion Christian Academy, winning just 112-52.
In 2017, Penn joined the Penn State Brandywine School, a school that participates in a consortium consisting entirely of the Penn State Extension campus. I wrote this for a website because there was a game branch related to cheesesteaks. That article led to my dad playing for the Penn State Brandywine team in the 1970s, when it was known as the Penn State Delco Company, who threw the “First Tip of Honor” at the Penn State Brandywine game the next year. During that game, I spoke with Brandywine’s coach, and he gushed about how great it was for his kids to play at a Division I school, and presumably wrote about it on an old version of the site.
That game ended in a 99-40 victory for Penn. It was the biggest win in school history. Payne once hit a 44-3 climax. It was a rout.but it is no Portland State/Portland Bible Competition. Brandy has a full lineup. The Portland Bible has six players. There is a limit to all of this, and the Portland Biblical Arrow may represent it.
The Arrows have lost five games by 70-plus points this year; their closest loss was an 85-41 win over NCAA Division III Willamette. The Associated Press says they are 0-11 now. (Will you Updating your official team website after the season starts? ) Their computer ratings from Kenneth Massey are really bad. “Massy has only community colleges with lower grades than them,” Pomeroy wrote me in an email.
The Portland Bible could have something bigger on the way — just not basketball. 1 Corinthians 9:25 is right: “Those who take part in the races are strictly trained. They do it for a crown that will not last, but we do it for an eternal crown.”