When you rank all 351 Division I basketball teams, the only guarantee is that you’re going to upset 350 Division I basketball fanbases.
So CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander knows what he’s getting into when he does this every year, but he does it anyway, spending what must be hours (or days, or weeks) researching, writing, ranking, and redoing the whole thing.
He does a great job, and this year was no different. But when you have such a big list, there are going to be disagreements, and our staff had a few.
First, read Norlander’s full ranking here (don’t worry, we’ll still be around in December when you finish up).
Our thoughts, pulled from our Slack discussion last night and this morning:
“UTEP seems overrated to me at 138. They had a 12-game losing streak last year. They'll probably do okay in CUSA play, but I don't think that's saying much. Several teams below them like UNLV, WKU, UNC-W and St. Francis (PA) are better.”
“For the MEAC, Morgan State comes in at 284, and there's two teams ranked ahead of them in NC Central and then Norfolk State at 222. NC Central returns zero starters, and Zaynah Robinson at Norfolk is a great player, but I'll take Tiwian Kendley and Phillip Carr at Morgan, the league's reigning top scorer and Defensive Player of the Year. The Bears are underrated.”
“Any thoughts on UNLV at 148? I think it's a bit too low — and that's not solely based on Brandon McCoy.”
“Swap Fairfield and Niagara. Putting the Purple Eagles — who haven't eclipsed ten wins in a season since 2013 — over a fun team with a strong MAAC Player of the Year candidate seems a bit off.”
“98) San Francisco: As a fellow USF kool-aid drinker, even I think that's too high of a ranking. It's worth noting Coach Smith loves scheduling cupcakes, so last year's 20-win season could be a mirage. I foresee a sophomore slump this year (having microwave scorer Ronnie Boyce come off the bench was incredibly invaluable) but that's just one person's opinion.”
Cam Newton and Chris Schutte:
Cam: I thought Norlander’s evaluation of Murray State was astute, but Vermont does seem a bit low at #80
Chris: I thought that too Cam
I thought they’d be up in the 40-50 range with Oakland and C of C.
Cam: Like, Vermont is probably a much better team than Bucknell, Yale, and Loyola, not to mention the meh power 5 teams he listed them behind
Chris: They probably have one of the highest floors of any mid-major team
Cam: Absolutely. And the thing is that they’re proven, unlike some of these other squads they’re behind! They didn’t lose a conference game last season, and the best parts of that team are back! How are they so low?
“Criminally underrating Saint Louis at 108. Like seeing URI in the top 25.”
“Lipscomb should be ranked higher than 142 IMO. Returning a bunch of impact players from last year's roster. Their non-conference opponents aren't too tough and they'll probably make the race for first in the A-Sun more competitive than most would think.”
“Sam Houston being that high is surprising (and wrong), their second returning scorer averaged 4 points per game and 11 minutes a game, even with the star transfer there's still major question marks with their starting 5 and almost no depth at all on their bench, not to mention they were only a 5th seed in the Southland tourney last year too.”
“My full thoughts are thus: ‘the lopes are back. They're good again. Awoooou (antelope howl)’“