"Holy cow, we did it! We made it back into the AP Top 25!" - Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis is back in the rankings, and Gonzaga earned a couple of No. 1 votes. The rest of the mid-majors just get to sit and watch thanks to some uninspiring performances out of the top of the Missouri Valley.
Well, will you look what we have hear? Does anyone else remember all the griping that everyone did about Memphis at the beginning of the season? How the Tigers didn't look like a top 25 team in the early going?
They still might not look like a top 25 team, but that could be said for a number of teams in college basketball right now, who are all getting votes as top 25 teams. Yet the Tigers find themselves back among the ranked this week, coming in at No. 22.
But the bar has been set kind of low. Look at the list of teams that are receiving votes right now. Have you ever seen a list this long? That just goes to show how difficult a year this is to determine who is any good, because you could go either way on a lot of the teams that are currently listed both in the polls and in the others category.
It just depends on which way the wind is blowing this week (which is part of my argument as to why the mid-major teams that are leading their conferences -- especially those conferences that are ranked higher by whatever measure you might choose -- should get the benefit of the doubt on the bubble. You can't make a realistic case that the middle teams from the power conferences are any better this season.).
Beyond just the first few teams -- and there is a lot of disagreement about who is the best among them -- it is just really hard to decide who belongs.
But about those top teams. Four squads received No. 1 votes this week, and maybe for the second time, there is a reason to applaud the voters (the first being willing to look outside the big boys for teams to fill the 25 slots on the ballot). They didn't necessarily overreact and drop the No. 1 team from its place atop the standings just because they lost.
Indiana received 26 first place votes to remain at the top of the rankings. Duke grabbed 20; Miami got another 17. But the real news is that Gonzaga, holders of a gaudy 23-2 record, earned two votes as the best team in the country.
There is definitely an argument to be made.
They lost on the road at the buzzer to Butler. Nothing to be ashamed of there. And they lost to Illinois back when Illinois was playing like a top 10 team in the country. That was almost two months ago now.
Outside of those two losses, they have only been challenged twice in the last two months. Everything else has been gravy for them.
Maybe they should be getting more love as the best team (although Miami has a really strong case at the moment to not only be No. 1, but to be ranked ahead of Duke, whom they beat by ohhh, just a few points).
That does it for ranked mid-major squads though. All the Missouri Valley has been wiped away, thanks to a two-loss week by Creighton, and an uninspiring performance from Wichita State. Indiana State has started to pick up some votes, but they still don't have the total resume (thanks to some odd losses) that belongs to either of the other two teams tied atop the conference.
But given the fluidity of the rankings right now, a lot of mid-major teams are close to emerging. Here is the list of those receiving votes: St. Mary's, Creighton, Louisiana Tech, Akron, Indiana State, Wichita State, Belmont. (By the way, where is Middle Tennessee State? Anyone?)
Any one of those teams is capable of having a very strong week and jumping into the 20-to-25 range. Maybe even more than one, given the number of new teams to crack the rankings this week.
Here is the complete AP Poll for Week 15, ending Feb. 10.
|Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota 80, Missouri 69, Cincinnati 68, Saint Mary's 62, Creighton 56, San Diego State 53, Louisiana Tech 43, Virginia Commonwealth 35, Saint Louis 34, Illinois 26, North Carolina State 24, Akron 12, UCLA 8, UNLV 6, Indiana State 5, Virginia 4, Wichita State 3, Belmont 2, Oklahoma 1, Mississippi 1.|