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Twitter Mailbag: How long can Delaware keep this up?

Can the Blue Hens stay undefeated, conference races, and more.

NCAA Basketball: Delaware at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can feel like a slog for many of us. Students are finishing up their semesters with final exams and presentations. Those of us in the workforce are putting the finishing touches on any year end items before checking out for the holidays.

[STEPHEN A. SMITH VOICE] HOWEVER!

College basketball is full speed ahead. Conference play is starting in some places, and there are resume building games almost every single night of the week. Now that football is winding down, it’s time for hoops to own the weekends once again.

Before we head into the weekend, let’s wrap up the work week with some Q&A. Your questions:

It wouldn’t be surprising for the Rams to make it back into the top 25 of the AP Poll sooner rather than later. In last week’s poll, VCU was still among those receiving votes. Had they won either one of their games last week against Purdue or Tennessee, that probably would have been enough to keep them in. The upcoming schedule sets them up nicely as Kenpom has them favored to win every game until the turn of the calendar, save for a road matchup against Wichita State. VCU will probably be in and around the top 25 for a majority of the season, barring an unexpected collapse.

The Blue Hens get a road game against George Washington on Saturday that is the only thing keeping them from being undefeated going into Philly next weekend. Kenpom has Delaware as a one point favorite. George Washington has one of the best three-point defenses in the country, which could pose problems for a Delaware team that’s hitting nearly 37 percent from deep. The Colonials have been inconsistent, but expect this one to be close. Let’s go with the Blue Hens by three.

More Delaware talk!

This is something we actually discussed on the podcast this week, specifically Here’s the thing about polls, ours and the AP’s included. They’re subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This week, Delaware received the John Feinstein vote in the AP Poll, which he generally gives as a courtesy vote to a mid-major that has pulled an upset or has a good record. Other recipients this year include Vermont, Northeastern and Colgate in the preseason. It’s his poll and he can select his teams as he so chooses.

I vote in our Other Top 25, and I like to think that I take it more seriously than some members of the AP Poll do with their ballots. My personal process is to evaluate teams with a combination of resume results, eye test, and various statistical metrics. It’s not perfect by any means, but it works for me and has generally not resulted in anything terribly egregious (yet). Delaware has been a great story, but they’ve played an incredibly weak schedule so far (No. 305 on Kenpom). I think Delaware is a good team. I just think there are at least 25 teams better than them that would beat them more often than not.

On the list of Mid-Major Madness Propaganda Bits, 2-Bid CAA is not one of them, nor should it be. There aren’t any teams in the Kenpom top 100 right now, and there are a lot of good but not great teams that are likely to beat up on each once CAA play actually starts. Plus, nobody in the conference has done the leg work in the non-conference slate to build a resume that’s even remotely close to being in the at-large mix. Here’s T-Rank’s TourneyCast for the CAA so you don’t get mad at me:

There’s a pretty sizable gap between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s and the rest of the conference. Those two teams sit at the top in a tier of their own, and BYU can probably still claim that second tier as its own, for now. San Francisco and Pepperdine — while both talented — would have to put up a great record against that top three. It’s hard to foresee that happening. Kenpom and T-Rank tend to agree.

We’ll pivot back to Maine content when there isn’t anymore snow on the ground there.

Louisiana Tech has looked really good so far, including last night’s buy game win against Mississippi State. They’ve been crushing teams that they should be beating, and also played Creighton and Indiana close. The Bulldogs are experienced and have a deep roster with a balanced scoring attack.

Western Kentucky is the most talented team in the conference, but they don’t exactly bring it on a consistent basis. That’s really been the case with Rick Stansbury’s teams the last couple of years.

It’s still a little early to get a good read on UTEP since the Miners have only played three Division I games, but there’s talented transfers on that roster and Rodney Terry is a great coach.

The Conference USA champ is probably coming from that group, and North Texas is worth including too despite their 3-6 record to start the year.

The MAC is going to be wild this year now that Buffalo has come back down to Earth after a couple years of dominance. Right now, Akron might have the best case, at least in the East division.

The Zips have been great defensively so far this year, and their only losses came in close games to West Virginia and Louisville. Last year, they had the second best defense in conference play in terms of efficiency, and a lot of those key pieces are back this year.

Toledo has looked great early on as well. Tod Kowalczyk continues to be one of the best offensive coaches in the country. The Rockets can absolutely bomb it from deep, and they rank 13th in the nation in three-point percentage at 40.8.

Dayton was expected to be good, but hot damn they have looked FANTASTIC to start the year. It may be the Maui bump, and it’s going to be a extremely interesting to see their matchup with Saint Mary’s this weekend. Obi Toppin has made the leap into a future lottery pick, but the entire roster is just loaded with dudes who can play. The Flyers have the fifth most efficient offense in the nation! If you aren’t surprised by that, you’re lying!