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The Other Top 25: Evansville enters the rankings with a historic win

Saint Mary’s and New Mexico State slide, plus two SoCon teams are in the top 10.

NCAA Basketball: Evansville at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It only took two weeks, but the cream of the non-Power 5/American/Big East crop have separated themselves from the field.

The top 10 in the Other Top 25 remain mostly unchanged from last week. Gonzaga, VCU and Utah State have lived up to the hype so far. They’re in not only the top three of the Other Top 25, but also the AP Poll, as they should be. Fourth-place Vermont made a ton of noise by winning at St. John’s for the first time since 1924. The Catamounts received votes in the AP Top 25, but a game against the defending national champs looms.

An impressive Dayton team follows close behind in fifth, while Saint Mary’s, San Diego State, East Tennessee State, Western Kentucky and Furman round out the top 10. Yes, there are two SoCon teams in the top 10 — don’t call this a regression after last season.

But like last week, the Other Top 25 curse continued. This time the victims were Saint Mary’s (lost at home to Winthrop), Davidson (lost to Charlotte) and New Mexico State, the latter of which tumbled nine spots — the most out of any team in the poll. Northeastern and Missouri State were jettisoned from the rankings, but Missouri State was oh-so-close to staying in until Lamont West picked up a controversial flopping call that cost the Bears a win over Xavier. Oh, what could have been.

On the flip-side, this week features two teams making their Other Top 25 debuts.

Of course, Evansville’s historic upset over then-No. 1 Kentucky was enough to give the Aces a spot. Despite being picked eighth in the MVC preseason poll, the Aces have the pieces to not only outperform low preseason expectations, but not be a one-week wonder in the Other Top 25. Stud sophomore DeAndre Williams is nearly averaging a double-double with 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 64.9% from the field. Not only that, the Aces have the luxury of bringing a Power-5 player off the bench in Sam Cunliffe (13.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG).

Richmond, meanwhile, enters the Other Top 25 because of a last-second win over Vanderbilt — a win over an SEC school is still a win over an SEC school — and by steamrolling Cal State Northridge. The Spiders have a three-headed monster of Jacob Gilyard (22.7 PPG), Nick Sherod (22.0 PPG) and Blake Francis (18.0 PPG) and are the most efficient offense in the A-10. The Spiders are off to their best start since 2012-13.

Here is the full poll. As usual, sound off in the comments or on Twitter dot com.

The Other Top 25

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning This week's games
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning This week's games
1 Gonzaga 4-0 Undefeated. Highest average scoring margin in the country (+35.5 PPG). No. 3 in AdjO on KenPom. It's business as usual in Spokane. UT Arlington (11/19); Cal State Bakersfield (11/23)
2 VCU 4-0 2 An electric atmosphere at the Siegel Center propelled the Rams to a huge win over LSU and former head coach Will Wade, and they avoided a letdown by trouncing Jacksonville State over the weekend. VCU sits at No. 21 in the AP Poll. Florida Gulf Coast (11/23)
3 Utah State 4-0 1 Utah State has cruised through the first two weeks with ease despite not having sophomore big man Neemias Queta. A light schedule will get significantly tougher in the coming weeks as the Aggies continue to climb the national polls. UTSA (11/18); Jamaica Classic: vs. LSU (11/22); vs. North Texas (11/24)
4 Vermont 2-0 2 Anthony Lamb's late-game heroics against St. John's gave the Catamounts their first win over a Big East team since before World War II. They'll be in the spotlight again on Tuesday against defending national champ Virginia. at Virginia (11/19); Hall of Fame Tip-Off: vs. Central Connecticut (11/23); Rider/Columbia (11/24)
5 Dayton 2-0 2 The Flyers dominated Charleston Southern in their only game of the week, and they're shooting 71.4 (!!!) percent from two-point range, which is tops in the country. Obi Toppin has looked like a first round NBA draft pick early on. Nebraska Omaha (11/19)
6 Saint Mary's 3-1 -4 Saint Mary's was riding sky-high after a big win over Wisconsin to open the season, but a home loss to Winthrop sent them falling back to earth. They followed it up with two large wins, but the loss to the Eagles will loom in everyone's minds when thinking about the potential pitfalls of their offense. Sacramento Classic vs. Fresno State (11/20); Lehigh (11/23)
7 San Diego State 3-0 1 The Aztecs took down a short-staffed Grand Canyon team this week in easy fashion, doing exactly what they needed to. If nothing else, one should be very optimistic that SDSU's offense has been uncharacteristically electric to start the season. at San Diego (11/20); LIU (11/22)
8 East Tennessee State 3-0 2 ETSU almost became the second team in the Other Top 25 to lose to Winthrop last week, but they just managed to stave off an upset. We'll get a real sense of what the Bucs are made of this Tuesday as they travel to the Phog. at Kansas (11/19); Delaware State (11/23)
9 Western Kentucky 3-0 2 It was an uneventful week for the Hilltoppers, who took down in-state foe Eastern Kentucky in relatively easy fashion. Things will get very interesting this weekend as they could potentially notch some big wins in the Paradise Jam. Campbellsville (11/18); U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam: vs. Bowling Green (11/22); Illinois State/Cincinnati (TBD)
10 Furman 4-0 2 Furman truly benefited from the fall of NMSU and Davidson, as their performances last week against Charleston Southern and Southern Wesleyan were as one would expect. Many will be watching to see if the Paladins can hand Alabama the Tide's second BRUTALITY of the season this Tuesday. at Alabama (11/19); Columbia International (11/22)
11 BYU 2-0 4 The Cougars got their signature win over Houston and their three-point shooting has returned. BYU is shooting 38% from three (67th nationally) and Jake Toolson (15.3 PPG, 45% from three) is looking like the WAC Player of the Year-caliber player he was a year ago. at Boise State (11/20)
12 Rhode Island 2-0 4 The Rams capitalized on their shot at the SEC with a double digit win over Alabama. Fatts Russell and Jeff Dowtin both bounced back from poor showings against Maryland with 20-point outings. Nicholls State (11/19); Jamaica Classic: vs. North Texas (11/22); vs. LSU (11/24)
13 New Mexico 4-0 4 New Mexico's offense is firing on all cylinders to start the season to the tune of 93.0 PPG, which is ninth nationally. JaQuan Lyle has been great so far, averaging 19.5 PPG, 6.3 APG and 4.5 RPG. A big week of rivalry matchups looms. at UTEP (11/19); at New Mexico State (11/21)
14 New Mexico State 2-2 -9 Is it too early to panic? Chris Jans said after the Aggies' 30-point loss at Arizona that this season "doesn't quite feel the same;" shooting only 42.7% from the field and struggling against SWAC teams seems out-of-character for a team with sky-high preseason expectations. Someone besides do-it-all wing Trevelin Queen needs to make shots. New Mexico (11/21)
15 Belmont 2-1 9 The Bruins can still bomb threes with the best of them. Belmont went 16-38 against Samford and 15-26 against Boston College in a pair of double digit wins. Casey Alexander now turns his focus to a matchup with his former employer in Lipscomb this week. High Point (11/18); at Lipscomb (11/20); at Saint Louis (11/23)
16 Pepperdine 3-1 5 Kessler Edwards averaged 18.5 points (on 57.9% shooting) and 11.5 rebounds against CSUN and Abilene Christian, bringing a bright spot to a week that saw three players come down with injuries. Believe it or not, Pepperdine's three wins have been against postseason teams from a season ago. at USC (11/19); Sacramento State (11/23)
17 Davidson 1-2 -8 Yikes. Losing to Charlotte is not ideal. Neither is having two star players shoot worse than 50% from the field. The coaching and talent on the roster gives Davidson enough room for error to hang on in the rankings — for now. This week's games Nevada and Wake Forest will be good opportunities to right the ship in front of a home crowd. vs. Nevada (11/19); vs. Wake Forest (11/22)
18 Harvard 3-2 -5 The good: Bryce Aiken scored 18 points in 20 minutes off the bench in his season debut against Buffalo. The bad: The Crimson lost that game, and are still without Seth Towns, who hasn't played since March 11, 2018. A road tuneup against Holy Cross will give Harvard more time to recuperate before entering the gauntlet in the Orlando Invitational. at Holy Cross (11/22)
19 Northern Iowa 4-0 3 Would anyone like to play offense against the Panthers? Ben Jacobson's team gutted out two more wins last week, survinving a scare from Northern Colorado and stifiling Cal State Bakersfield. AJ Green and Spencer Haldeman have made the Panthers look like the team to beat in the Missouri Valley. vs. UT-Martin (11/19); vs. Cornell College (11/20)
20 Liberty 4-0 -2 Liberty's drop in the poll can be attributed by other teams rising above them. While shellacking an AAC team sounds nice, East Carolina would only be the fourth-best team in the A-Sun. Here's to hoping we see a Liberty-Evansville matchup in the Island of the Bahamas Showcase final next week. vs. Navy (11/19); Island of the Bahamas Showcase: vs. Morgan State (11/22), vs. Rice/Milwaukee (11/23)
21 Wright State 3-1 -7 That one-point loss against Kent State might not look as bad in the long run, but some defensive issues need to be addressed if the Raiders want to stay in this poll. They've let Miami Ohio and Kent State shoot better than 50% from the field. vs. Urbana (11/20)
22 Evansville 3-0 NR Beat the No. 1 team in America, earn a spot in the Other Top 25. Thankfully for Evansville, Sam Cunliffe and DeAndre Williams are talented enough to keep the Aces in this poll for a little longer. vs. SMU (11/18); Island of the Bahamas Showcase: vs. East Carolina (11/22), vs. UMKC/George Washington (11/23)
23 Richmond 3-0 NR Don't tell the #FireMooney crowd, but the Spiders are off to their first 3-0 start under Chris Mooney since the 2012-13 season. Jacob Gilyard has been lights-out thus far — he ranks in the top 20 nationally in effective field goal percentage (79.4%) and true shooting percentage (80.8%) — and Richmond has the most efficient offense in the A-10. Richmond's first true test awaits against Wisconsin in the Legends Classic. vs. McNeese State (11/22)
24 UC Irvine 3-1 1 The Anteaters came into Boise State and held Justinian Jessup to 3-12 shooting on his own home floor. Now comes the toughest part of UC Irvine's schedule: Getting more than one win out of Colorado, TCU and Detroit — all on the road. at Colorado (11/18); at TCU (11/21); MGM Resorts Main Event: vs. Detroit Mercy (11/24)
25 Louisiana Tech 2-1 -5 Louisiana Tech's late run against Creighton was admirable, but the Bulldogs fell short of a statement win last Saturday. Two games against sub-275 KenPom teams will act as tuneups before they get another shot at an upset against Indiana. vs. Mississippi Valley State (11/19); vs. North Alabama (11/22)

Also receiving votes: UTEP 8, Missouri State 6, Kent State 6, Duquesne 5, South Dakota 3, San Francisco 2, Illinois State 2.