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Mid-Major Madness Power Rankings: Western Kentucky is a serious contender in Conference USA

Middle Tennessee isn’t exactly running away with it.

NCAA Basketball: Western Kentucky at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We skipped a week in our rankings and we are (kind of) sorry.

While we were gone, conference play ramped up, and with it came a slew of results that have helped us better understand the mid-major hierarchy. For example: we’ve long assumed that Conference USA was Middle Tennessee, maybe Old Dominion, then everybody else.

That is clearly not the case.

The Blue Raiders are still the favorites and Old Dominion only has one conference loss, but that loss came to Western Kentucky.

A look at what the Hilltoppers have done:

  • Won three-straight conference road games, including over ODU and Marshall
  • Won six straight overall
  • Beaten Purdue, a team with a legitimate shot at a 1 seed
  • Beaten SMU, a team destined for the NCAA Tournament
  • Become one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country
  • Placed two players (Darius Thompson and Justin Johnson) on the to-date Conference USA All-KenPom team

We’ve also learned that East Tennessee State has put its early struggles behind. The Bucs have torn through the early part of their SoCon schedule, but play at Furman later this week in their biggest league challenge yet.

Up north, we’ve seen that while Albany’s start to the year was fun to talk about, Vermont has no actual competition in the America East...just like we all assumed in October.

And out west, Montana, not Portland State, has emerged as the best team in the Big Sky.

So, here’s what the rankings look like when that is all taken into account:

Mid-Major Madness Power Rankings: Week 16

RANK TEAM RECORD LAST WEEK POINTS
RANK TEAM RECORD LAST WEEK POINTS
1 Gonzaga (9) 28-4 1 225
2 Saint Mary's 28-4 5 213
3 Nevada 26-6 3 200
4 St. Bonaventure 24-6 6 195
5 Rhode Island 23-6 2 188
6 Middle Tennessee 24-6 4 179
7 Loyola Chicago 28-5 12 167
8 Vermont 26-6 8 162
9 New Mexico State 25-5 9 154
10 South Dakota State 26-6 11 131
10 Murray State 26-5 14 131
12 Boise State 23-7 10 122
13 Old Dominion 24-6 13 106
14 Western Kentucky 22-9 7 86
15 Davidson 18-11 19 73
15 San Diego State 19-10 24 73
17 Bucknell 24-9 21 70
18 Louisiana 26-5 15 68
19 UNC Greensboro 26-7 20 62
20 Charleston 24-7 18 55
21 East Tennessee State 25-8 17 48
22 South Dakota 25-7 22 40
23 Montana 23-7 23 35
24 BYU 23-9 24 32
25 Belmont 24-9 16 25

Also receiving votes: Duquesne 13, Fresno State 11, Wright State 11, UT Arlington 9, Murray State 8, Charleston 4, Northern Kentucky 4, CS Fullerton 1, Utah Valley 1.