John Carroll men's basketball up to No. 2 in Top 25 poll

Jan. 30—On a 10-game winning streak and undefeated in conference play, the John Carroll men's basketball team seems to be peaking at the right time.

Just how far the Blue Streaks can advance in March is the big question.

JCU is good — very good — and the pollsters across the nation are sharing that belief. On Jan. 29, the Blue Streaks jumped one spot to No. 2 in the Top 25 poll.

JCU had 583 points, ahead of No. 3 Trine (542) and Trinity (Conn.), which had 518. At No. 1 is Hampden-Sydney (623 points, 23 first-place votes) from Virginia, the only team to beat JCU this season.

Case Western Reserve — which was No. 2 in the poll the last two weeks — fell from that spot to No. 11 after losing two conference games on the road last weekend.

Coach Pete Moran's team is 18-1 this season and 12-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. It has a three-game lead on second-place Mount Union (16-3, 9-3) with six games to play. JCU hosts crosstown rival Baldwin Wallace on Jan. 31.

Since joining the OAC for a second time in 1989, no JCU men's basketball team has gone undefeated in league play. The best mark was the 2008-09 team that went 16-2.

Should the Blue Streaks clinch the OAC and No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament, it would put Moran and his staff in an interesting situation. Unlike in the NBA, don't expect any load management decisions.

JCU's big three in its backcourt have played big minutes through 19 games. Point guard Luke Chicone of Mentor averages a team-high 34 minutes, Lake Catholic's Luke Frazier 30 and Chase Toppin 28.

"No, no, no," said Moran, when asked about the possibility of clinching the OAC early and managing minutes among his rotation players.

The reason is simple. With a No. 2 ranking, JCU is undoubtedly on the NCAA's radar as a host school for a Division III tournament quadrant during the first weekend. More important, and if the Blue Streaks would be in a position to play the second weekend, JCU could be a prime candidate to host that weekend as well.

A lot has to play out from now until the start of the D-III tournament but it's becoming more clear with the passing of each week — if JCU keeps winning, it will be a national championship contender.

Baldwin Wallace at John Carroll

When: 7 p.m., Jan. 31

Where: DeCarlo Varsity Center

Records: BW 5-11, 2-10; JCU 18-1, 12-0 OAC