Can we interest any of you in a seven-bid Atlantic 10? Or a top team that isn’t Gonzaga?
Look no further, because The Other Top 25 has emerged from Feast Week disheveled, disoriented and still groggy from tryptophan and a long weekend of college basketball. Predictably, there’s been a shakeup in the poll.
While all of the tournaments over Thanksgiving week brought teams like Dayton and San Diego State into the national spotlight, other teams were not so fortunate. Four teams fell out of The Other Top 25. Belmont is out. So is San Francisco. New Mexico State nearly pulled off a redemption tour in the Cayman Islands, but lost to George Mason. Harvard left the rankings after a close loss to No. 3 Maryland and a less-close loss to unranked USC. Farewell, #2BidIvy; we hardly knew ye.
Saint Louis, Yale, UNC Greensboro and George Mason took their places, giving the Atlantic 10 a whopping seven teams in The Other Top 25. This should come as no surprise, as the A-10 is the best non-Power 5/Big East/American conference on KenPom.
As for the top five, well, it’s anyone’s guess.
The fun part about all of this is the top five teams in the poll — with exception of the top team, of course — have some pretty glaring flaws. No. 5 VCU’s offense is suspect. No. 4 Saint Mary’s, meanwhile, lets teams like Nebraska Omaha and Winthrop hang around longer than they should. No. 3 Gonzaga is rolling with a seven-man rotation that relies on a 6-foot-10 guy that is made of glass. And No. 2 Dayton is allowing opponents to shoot 38.1 percent from three (a bottom 40 mark in the nation, per KenPom) and let Kansas’s guards go whatever they wanted in the Maui Invitational. No team is perfect right now, but it’s only November.
Our voters had the task of deciding which of these flaws were the most forgivable. We had a hard time with it. A mere 20 points separated No. 6 Utah State and No. 1 San Diego State, and only two of our voters had the same top three in the same order.
One thing our voters could agree on is that San Diego State is legit.
Right now, they look like one of the nation’s most complete teams. Instead of being a plodding, defense-first San Diego State team of old, this year’s Aztecs have a potent offense to compliment their elite defense.
As a team, SDSU is shooting 40.5 percent from three. They’re led by two transfers: Former Washington State point guard Malachi Flynn (16.1 PPG, 5.1 APG, 40.1 3FG%) is the best all-around point guard the Aztecs have had in a long time, whereas Vanderbilt grad transfer Yanni Wetzell is averaging 11.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG while also shooting 61.7 percent from the floor. Sharpshooters Jordan Schakel (11.0 PPG, 55 3FG%) and super sixth-man Matt Mitchell (10.9 PPG, 47.4 3FG%) are both 6’6 and cause serious matchup problems — just ask Creighton and Iowa.
Right now, the Aztecs are top-40 in KenPom, received votes in the lates AP Top 25 and they’re projected to be a 4 seed, per Bart Torvik’s TourneyCast. You’ll hear about them for a while.
The full Other Top 25 poll is below, as per usual. If you have any questions, comments, qualms or concerns, please take a number behind all of the Stephen F. Austin fans.
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||San Diego State||8-0||5||Although a matchup with Texas Tech in the Continental Tires Invitational would've been nice, the Aztecs took a huge step towards building a legitimate NCAA Tournament resume with big wins over Creighton and Iowa. More importantly, San Diego shot better than 45% from three in both games on more than 18 attempts per game. RIght now, it looks like Brian Dutcher has his most balanced — and probably his best — team in his three years at the helm.||12/4 at Colorado State, 12/8 vs. San Jose State|
|2||Dayton||5-1||2||No team had a national coming-out party over Feast Week quite like Dayton, which shellacked two Power-5 teams before pushing No. 2 Kansas to the brink. The Flyers are still the best shooting team in America (62.6 eFG%), have a bona fide NBA prospect in Obi Toppin (22.3 PPG on 69.4% shooting in Maui) and have several more opportunities to build an at-large resume, starting this weekend against Saint Mary's on a neutral floor.||12/3 vs. Houston Baptist, 12/8 vs. Saint Mary's (in Phoenix)|
|3||Gonzaga||8-1||-2||Beating Oregon with a thin rotation was the best win the Bulldogs have had all season. Unfortunately, that lack of depth was exposed by Michigan team in the Battle 4 Atlantis finals, in which the Bulldogs shot 37.7% from two and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 13 times. This weekend's game at No. 22 Washington kicks off a three-game gauntlet against three AP Top 25 teams. There's no doubt Gonzaga is a tournament team — is there ever? — but the next few weeks could show us how far of a run they are capable of making in March.||12/4 vs. Texas Southern, 12/8 at Washington|
|4||Saint Mary's||8-1||1||Jordan Ford going supernova in the second half made headlines against Utah State, but the emergence of sophomore center Matthias Tass has been an equally important storyline this season. The Estonian has averaged 8.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG while turning the ball over only nine times, which is not bad for a first-year starter. He and Malik Fitts will have a tall task in defending Obi Toppin this Sunday.||12/5 vs. Northern Illinois, 12/8 vs. Dayton (in Phoenix)|
|5||VCU||6-2||-3||Losing to two top 30 teams by a combined six points on a week that another A10 team took the nation by storm was not ideal for the Rams. It's no surprise VCU's defense kept them in both the Purdue and Tennessee games, but the offensive lapses don't inspire confidence. But two losses to two NCAA Tournament teams isn't enough to pull the panic switch yet — especially with three decent mid-majors ahead on the schedule before playing at Wichita State.||12/7 vs. Old Dominion|
|6||Utah State||7-1||-3||3 spots may be a big drop for a loss to the No. 4 team in our rankings. Sam Merrill and Justin Bean were awesome against Saint Mary's. Everyone else? Uh...||12/4 at San Jose State, 12/7 vs. Fresno State|
|7||East Tennessee State||7-1||1||The metrics look great for ETSU and it has moved up by winning all the games it should. We're just waiting for the Bucs to face and pass a true test.||12/4 at The Citadel, 12/7 at North Dakota State|
|8||Richmond||6-1||8||The Spiders looked like an NCAA Tournament team for three of the four halves they played in Brooklyn. Grant Golden looks like an all-league player.||12/3 at Hampton, 12/8 vs. South Alabama|
|9||New Mexico||7-2||1||Carlton Bragg, Vance Jackson, and JaQuan Lyle have all resurfaced in Albuquerque, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Lobos have knocked off two top-100 teams in the last couple weeks and followed it up with a home win over Montana.||12/4 vs. Boise State, 12/7 at Wyoming|
|10||BYU||6-3||5||Two wins over Power 5 programs in Maui have sent the Cougars into the top 10 of our poll. I think. Maybe it was their win over Montana Tech, I'm not sure.||12/4 at Utah, 12/7 vs. UNLV (in Salt Lake City)|
|11||Furman||7-1||—||Clay Mounce: Buy stock now.||12/2 at South Florida, 12/5 at Auburn|
|12||Western Kentucky||6-2||-3||The 'Toppers lost to the new No. 1 team in the country. Oh well. That close call against Fordham is a little worrisome though. Unless you're Cam, who thinks the Rams are going to the Final Four.||12/3 at Wright State, 12/7 vs. Arkansas|
|13||Vermont||6-3||-6||Oh, Vermont. You had our hopes up with a win at St. John's and a near-upset at Virginia. Then you lost to Rider. Then to Yale (that one's excusable). Our dreams of a #2bidAE are dead, but you're still the overwhelming favorites in your conference.||12/3 at Cincinnati, 12/7 vs. Towson|
|14||Northern Iowa||7-1||4||Speaking of conference favorites, Northern Iowa is the team to beat in the Valley with Missouri State underperforming. The Panthers' most recent victim was South Carolina, behind 26 points from AJ Green.||12/2 vs. Luther|
|15||Rhode Island||5-3||-3||Rhode Island has played a brutal schedule and, honestly, had done OK with it. Fatts Russell has scored at least 20 points in six straight games.||12/6 vs. Providence|
|16||UTEP||5-0||-1||UTEP has two REALLY good wins over New Mexico and New Mexico State. The problem? Those are the only two wins the Miners have over D-I competition. They visit Las Cruces for a return game on Tuesday.||12/3 at New Mexico State, 12/7 vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff|
|17||Liberty||9-0||—||The Flames are 9-0 and won't face a top-125 team until Dec. 29. They might end up as one of the nation's final unbeatens and we still won't really know how good they are.||12/2 vs. Trinity Baptist, 12/8 vs. Grand Canyon (in Phoenix)|
|18||Duquesne||6-0||2||Duquesne rose two spots in our poll despite not playing a game last week. This was probably because almost everyone else decided to lose. Nevertheless, they're still one of the few unbeaten teams; that probably won't change against sub-300 KenPom team VMI.||12/4 vs. VMI|
|19||Buffalo||5-2||6||Buffalo played one game this week and jumped six spots because Feast Week causes chaos.||12/3 at Vanderbilt, 12/8 at DePaul|
|20||Bowling Green||6-2||-7||We must punish the Falcons for beating Dartmouth. It is in our contracts. #ShoutOutDartmouth||12/7 vs. Oakland|
|21||Saint Louis||7-1||NR||The Billikens have lost just once this year and have wins over Boston College and Belmont. Welcome back to the rankings, now don't mess it up with a loss to Tulane!||12/8 vs. Tulane (in Phoenix)|
|22||Yale||6-3||NR||@DanHurley: Schedule Yale, coward! @JohnBecker: You shouldn't have scheduled Yale.||12/4 at Albany, 12/7 at Lehigh|
|23||UNC Greensboro||6-2||NR||We were open about how we probably overlooked Greensboro in the preseason. The Spartans have a bad loss to Montana State but just won at Georgetown. Wes Miller's group seems to be hitting its stride.||12/4 vs. Kennesaw State, 12/7 at Radford|
|24||George Mason||8-1||NR||Before last week, George Mason fell into that good-record-but-what-have-they-really-done category. Since then, the Patriots have beaten Nebraska (who hasn't?) and New Mexico State. The A-10 is so, so deep this year.||12/3 vs. Jacksonville State, 12/7 vs. American|
|25||Louisiana Tech||5-2||-2||Thor, a Very Good Bulldog, won Best In Show at the 2019 National Dog Show. Good boy!||12/5 at Mississippi State, 12/8 at Sam Houston State|
Also receiving votes: Harvard 13, Penn 10, San Francisco 4, Nevada 1.