Conference play is where at-large resumes go to die, particularly for teams in the upper-tier mid-major conferences. Nowhere is this more true than the Mountain West, where Utah State and New Mexico have basically fallen off of the NCAA Tournament radar.
The Aggies are, by far, the most surprising. They were ranked 17th in the preseason AP Poll and rolled to a 7-0 start that included a neutral court win over LSU. Today, Utah State is 14-6 and just 3-4 in the Mountain West, with four losses in its last five games.
New Mexico didn’t have quite the same expectations in the preseason, but a 13-2 start got us hopeful. Things have gone sideways since Carlton Bragg’s dismissal from the team. More concerning than the Lobos losing their last two — at Colorado State and at UNLV — is that they were competitive in neither game. For now, it’s about getting back on track and trying to salvage a good seed in the conference tournament.
Things are looking much better at the top of the rankings, however. Gonzaga, San Diego State, and Dayton just keep winning and are seemingly locked into the top three spots. The Bulldogs and Aztecs are both gunning for 1 seeds, while Dayton has performed consistently like a Final Four-caliber team.
The Flyers have won six in a row and are undefeated in the Atlantic 10. They return home to host a better-than-you-think St. Bonaventure team on Wednesday. Want to go? You can get tickets right here from StubHub, starting at only $16.
Here’s how the whole poll shook out. Make sure to yell at us so we know you’re listening.
The Other Top 25: Week 12
|Rank||School||Record||Change||Our reasoning||This week's games|
|Rank||School||Record||Change||Our reasoning||This week's games|
|1||Gonzaga||20-1||-||Gonzaga's string of too-close-for-comfort wins seems so long ago. The Zags throttled Santa Clara (by 50!) and BYU this week.||vs. Pacific (1/25)|
|2||San Diego State||19-0||-||KenPom now gives the Aztecs a 21% chance of going undefeated in the regular season. They seem to be a lock for a 1 or 2 seed.||vs. Wyoming (1/21), @ UNLV (1/26)|
|3||Dayton||16-2||-||The Flyers handled VCU then won a thriller at Saint Louis. They're dominant, but are they ruining the A-10's at-large chances in the process?||vs. St. Bonaventure (1/22), @ Richmond (1/25)|
|4||Northern Iowa||16-2||1||UNI has now swept Bradley in the regular season. Huge, considering the Braves are no worse than the third-best team in the conference.||@ Southern Illinois (1/22), vs. Loyola (1/26)|
|5||BYU||14-6||-1||BYU keeps missing major opportunities. A couple of sneaky challenges loom this week with visits to Pacific and San Francisco.||@ Pacific (1/23), @ San Francisco (1/25)|
|5||Saint Mary's||16-4||1||The Gaels need to stop shooting themselves in the foot. That non-con win over Utah State isn't holding up as well as we expected.||vs. San Francisco (1/23), @ Loyola Marymount (1/25)|
|7||VCU||13-5||-||After dropping games to Rhode Island and Dayton, the Rams have a chance to right the ship this week as they visit Philly for a couple games they should win.||@ Saint Joseph's (1/21), @ La Salle (1/25)|
|8||ETSU||17-3||4||Get ready for the ETSU at-large discussion. If the Bucs don't take on any unexpected losses, it'll happen sooner rather than later.||vs. Chattanooga (1/25)|
|9||Yale||12-4||4||It's been a torturous wait for Ivy League play to really get going. After the Bulldogs play Howard on Monday, it's finally on to the regular Ivy schedule.||@ Howard (1/20), @ Brown (1/24)|
|10||Saint Louis||14-4||-||Can't really knock the Bilikens for a tough loss to one of the best teams in the country in Dayton. If they win these next four (which they should), we might have a clear-cut No. 2 in the A-10.||@ Davidson (1/22), vs. Fordham (1/26)|
|11||Duquesne||15-2||4||The Dukes face Rhode Island on Wednesday, so we'll see if their meteoric rise in the polls is legit.||@ Rhode Island (1/22), @ UMass (1/25)|
|12||UNC Greensboro||15-5||2||We haven't talked enough about Isaiah Miller. The best player in the SoCon this season had 26 in the Spartans' win over Chattanooga.||@ Samford (1/25)|
|13||Richmond||14-4||2||The Spiders have won five true road games this year. Now to protect the home court...||vs. La Salle (1/22), vs. Dayton (1/25)|
|14||Rhode Island||12-5||1||The Rhode Island team that lost to Brown is now a distant memory. The Rams have won four in a row and are in the drivers' seat for a double-bye in Brooklyn.||vs. Duquesne (1/22), @ St. Bonaventure (1/25)|
|15||Harvard||12-4||4||That win over Dartmouth last week was a little closer than necessary. They get another shot against the Big Green this week.||@ Dartmouth (1/25)|
|16||Liberty||19-1||2||Lipscomb gave Liberty a scare, but Ritchie McKay's group is just too good.||@ North Florida (1/23), @ Stetson (1/25)|
|17||Utah State||14-6||-9||The legit preseason Top 25 team now needs to go on a miraculous run to get back into the NCAA Tournament conversation. The Mountain West is strong, so there are opportunities, but don't hold your breath.||vs. Air Force (1/21), vs. Colorado State (1/25)|
|18||Furman||15-5||-9||The Paladins have dropped two out of three, but with a manageable schedule ahead, I wouldn't worry much about it.||vs. Samford (1/22), @ The Citadel (1/25)|
|19||Vermont||13-6||3||Vermont is clearly the best team in the America East, and assuming it rolls through the schedule, we probably won't learn much more until March.||@ Maine (1/22), vs. UMass-Lowell (1/25)|
|20||New Mexico St||14-6||3||Trying to find a possible loss remaining on the Aggies' schedule. I cannot.||@ UTRGV (1/25)|
|21||New Mexico||15-5||-11||Since Carlton Bragg was removed from the team, the Lobos have essentially been in a free fall, getting destroyed in back-to-back games against Colorado State and UNLV.||vs. San Jose State (1/21), @ Nevada (1/25)|
|22||Akron||14-4||-2||The Zips possess one of the country's best offenses, but not even a 33-point performance from Loren Cristian Jackson could preserve their unblemished MAC record.||@ Miami Ohio (1/21), @ Ohio (1/25)|
|23||Wright State||17-4||2||Northern Kentucky is Wright State's only big challenge remaining. The Raiders get the Norse at home this week.||vs. Northern Kentucky (1/24)|
|23||Loyola University Chicago||13-6||NR||Loyola's back! For now. The Ramblers visit Northern Iowa on Sunday.||vs. Indiana State (1/22), @ Northern Iowa (1/26)|
|25||San Francisco||14-6||NR||Three-straight wins have the Dons in the top 100 in KenPom and into The Other Top 25. That's the good part. The bad part: Saint Mary's and BYU this week.||@ Saint Mary's (1/23), vs. BYU (1/25)|
Also receiving votes: Louisiana Tech, Belmont, Western Kentucky, Kent State, North Texas, William & Mary.