The NCAA Division III women’s basketball defending national champion Howard Payne Lady Jackets are ranked No. 13 in the d3hoops.com preseason poll, which was released Thursday.

The Lady Jackets, who are coming off a 33-0 season and were the only NCAA team at any level to finish the year undefeated, received two first-place votes in the poll.

“Obviously the expectations with this program are there,” said Lady Jackets first-year head coach Josh Prock. “I think the girls will take it as a challenge and try to climb up.”

The Lady Jackets are one of two American Southwest Conference teams in the poll as McMurry (25-5), which suffered four of its five losses to Howard Payne last year, is ranked 20th. Hardin-Simmons received 11 points in the poll, which translates to a ranking of 39th.

Wisconsin-Whitewater, which fell to Howard Payne in the national semifinals last year, earned the preseason No. 1 nod. Whitewater received 14 of 25 first-place votes and is coming off a 29-4 campaign.

Oglethrope (27-7), which was also a Final Four team a year ago, is No. 2 in the poll, while the rest of the Top 10 consists of No. 3 DePauw (28-4), No. 4 Kean (28-4), No. 5 Rochester (22-6), No. 6 Washington University (19-8), No. 7 Thomas More (29-1), No. 8 Hope (30-1), No. 9 DeSales (26-4) and No. 10 Illinois Wesleyan (26-3).

The Lady Jackets return eight members of last year’s national championship squad and welcome seven newcomers.

Howard Payne will open the season Nov. 21 in Colorado Springs, Colo. at the Colorado College tournament. The Lady Jackets’ first home game is scheduled for Nov. 29 when they host ASC rival LeTourneau. Howard Payne also has an exhibition game at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls slated for Nov. 11.

The D3hoops.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, sports information directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly.

D3hoops.com

Women’s Preseason Top 25

No. Team W-L Pts. ‘Pvs.

1. UW-Whitewater (14) 29-4 604 4

2. Oglethorpe (3) 27-7 566 6

3. DePauw (2) 28-4 517 5

4. Kean 28-4 491 7

5. Rochester (2) 22-6 425 20

6. Washington U. (2) 19-8 421 -

7. Thomas More 29-1 420 8

8. Hope 30-1 397 2

9. DeSales 26-4 383 18

10. Illinois Wesleyan 26-3 328 14

11. Chicago 22-6 325 19

12. Baldwin-Wallace 27-3 323 15

13. Howard Payne (2) 33-0 295 1

14. Messiah 30-3 280 3

15. Bowdoin 19-9 270 -

16. Tufts 26-4 255 12

17. St. Norbert 22-5 221 25

18. New Jersey 22-7 196 -

19. Simpson 27-3 166 10

20. McMurry 25-5 151 11

21. Amherst 27-3 119 13

22. Marymount 23-6 117 -

23. St. Benedict 20-6 112 -

24. Muhlenberg 21-7 86 -

25. UW-Eau Claire 23-7 76 24

Others receiving votes: Mary Washington 70, Carthage 54, Chapman 51, Southern Maine 46, Brandeis 44, William Smith 43, Western Connecticut 42, UW-Stevens Point 36, Whitman 22, Eastern Connecticut 20, St. Lawrence 20, Emmanuel 14, Randolph-Macon 12, Hardin-Simmons 11, Lewis and Clark 10, Capital 9, Cortland State 9, George Fox 9, Loras 8, Trinity (Texas) 8, Elmhurst 7, Lebanon Valley 7, Millikin 7, Salem State 7, Scranton 5, Wilmington 3, Emory 2, Lake Forest 2, Calvin 1, Franklin and Marshall 1, Wheaton (Mass.) 1.