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The Other Top 25: Conference USA returns to the rankings

North Texas and Louisiana Tech replace New Mexico and Duquesne in this week’s rankings of the best teams outside the Power 5/Big East/American conferences.

North Texas v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Conference USA is back — at least in The Other Top 25.

After being shut out of last week’s Other Top 25 poll, two C-USA teams are ranked this week: Louisiana Tech (23rd) and North Texas (25th). And given both teams’ schedules this week, C-USA has a chance to have two teams in next week’s poll too.

While C-USA has been anything but steady this year — hello, Charlotte (!), Western Kentucky, plus UTSA and UTEP being good half the time — both the Bulldogs and the Mean Green have risen to the top three in the conference. Despite North Texas’s win over LA Tech earlier this season, the Bulldogs got the higher ranking due to their better overall record (15-5) and resume; North Texas has no Quad. 1 wins and is only 2-3 in Quad. 2 games, per Warren Nolan’s team sheets.

This pair of C-USA teams replaces two mainstays in The Other Top 25. New Mexico’s disintegration continues, this time with injuries to starters JaQuan Lyle and Vance Jackson, both of whom did not play last week. While both players are expected to return sometime this season, the Lobos will need to find some cure for its three-point defense, which ranks dead-last in the Mountain West, before the undefeated San Diego State Aztecs come to town Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Duquesne left the rankings for the first time in nine weeks. One week ago, the Dukes were undefeated in A-10 play and ranked 11th in The Other Top 25, all before dropping back-to-back games against Rhode Island (understandable) and Massachusetts (less so). Barring an upset over Dayton this Wednesday, the Dukes will sit out of The Other Top 25 for a little longer.

Elsewhere, the top three teams are intact for the third-consecutive week.

Gonzaga, San Diego State and Dayton are in the top 10 of the latest AP Top 25, and all withstood another week of challenges. Gonzaga kept it close with a plucky Pacific Tigers team for precisely two minutes until the Bulldogs threw their offense into overdrive in a 33- point win. San Diego State set a new program record with its 21-0 start, but not without a fight from UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton, whose 29 points were a game-high in the Aztecs’ win at UNLV on Sunday. And Dayton needed a little more time to shake off Richmond on the road last Saturday, yet picked up another Quad. 1 win in the process.

The rest of the poll is below. You know the drill.

The Other Top 25: Week 13

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning This week's games
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning This week's games
1 Gonzaga 21-1 - Gonzaga's last five games: 94 points, 87 points, 104 points, 92 points, 92 points. The Bulldogs have the No. 1 offense in the country for a reason. @ Santa Clara (1/30), @ San Francisco (2/1)
2 San Diego State 21-0 - The Aztecs' perfect season withstood a tough test at UNLV, where the Rebels had already taken down Utah State and New Mexico. @ New Mexico (1/29), vs. Utah State (2/1)
3 Dayton 18-2 - Jalen Crutcher has scored 20-or-more points in four straight games and is the A-10 Player of the Week for the second week in a row. @ Duquesne (1/29), vs. Fordham (2/1)
4 Saint Mary's 18-4 1 Saint Mary's has only lost one road game this year and it took Pacific four overtimes to do it. The Gaels' most recent triumph came at Loyola Marymount. vs. Portland (1/30), @ BYU (2/1)
5 VCU 15-5 2 VCU has beaten up on the bottom of the A-10, like it's supposed to. Things get tougher this week with games against Richmond and Rhode Island. vs. Richmond (1/28), @ Rhode Island (1/31)
6 Northern Iowa 17-3 -2 UNI's loss to Southern Illinois significantly lowers its at-large chances. Not a problem, though. The Panthers are still the best team in the Valley. vs. Missouri State (1/29), @ Evansville (2/1)
7 BYU 15-7 -2 How many more losses can BYU take on? The Cougars don't have any concerning Ls on their resume but 7 is a lot for a WCC team with tournament hopes. vs. Pepperdine (1/30), vs. Saint Mary's (2/1)
8 ETSU 18-3 - Unless something crazy happens, expect the Bucs to be riding a six-game winning streak into their game against UNCG on Saturday. vs. Mercer (1/29), vs. UNCG (2/1)
9 Yale 14-4 - The free ride is over in the Ivy League. After weeks of little-to-no games, conference play ramps up as all eight teams head out for a full weekend of action. vs. Columbia (1/31), vs Cornell (2/1)
10 Rhode Island 14-5 4 This was a statement week for the Rams. A home win over Duquesne and a roadie over St. Bonaventure puts them one game behind Dayton for first place in the A-10. @ George Mason (1/28), vs. VCU (1/31)
11 UNC Greensboro 16-5 1 What happens when one of the best defensive teams in the nation faces the SoCon's best offense? Find out when the Spartans visit Western Carolina this week. @ Western Carolina (1/29), @ ETSU (2/1)
12 Richmond 15-5 1 The Spiders hung tough against Dayton while Jacob Gilyard showed that he is one of the league's best players. @ VCU (1/28), vs. George Washington (2/1)
13 Utah State 16-6 4 Congrats to Utah State on not losing this week! The Aggies got back on track with a win over better-than-you-think Colorado State. @ Wyoming (1/28), @ San Diego State (2/1)
13 Harvard 13-4 2 Got plans Friday night? Cancel them. Harvard at Penn is the game you'll want to see. @ Penn (1/31), @ Princeton (2/1)
15 Saint Louis 15-5 -5 Forget about Saint Louis's loss to Davidson for a second. The Bilikens held Fordham to 39 points in a 57 (57!!!!) possession game on Sunday. That's 0.68 PPP. Not bad. @ La Salle (1/29), @ Saint Joseph's (2/1)
16 Furman 17-5 2 Furman started the easiest stretch of its conference schedule this week by beating Samford and The Citadel. The Paladins will also be heavy favorites in four of their next five games. vs. VMI (1/29)
17 Vermont 15-6 2 Vermont narrowly avoided a cataclysmic loss at Maine on Wednesday and has now won five in a row. The Catamounts shot 11-24 from three in a 30-point rout over UMass-Lowell. @ New Hampshire (1/29), @ Albany (2/1)
18 New Mexico St 15-6 2 Another week, another road win for the Aggies. New Mexico State has endured a plethora of injuries — this time without do-it-all wing Trevelin Queen — yet Chris Jans' group keeps winning. KenPom gives them a 12.1% chance of going undefeated in WAC play. vs. CS Bakersfield (1/30), vs. Grand Canyon (2/1)
19 Liberty 19-3 -3 One would think Liberty's non-conference schedule (ranked 317th, per KenPom) prepared them to play bad teams, but the Flames dropped back-to-back games in ASUN play for the first time in program history last week. vs. Kennesaw State (1/30), vs. FGCU (2/1)
20 Akron 16-4 2 No one is talking about the Zips. Everyone should be talking about Tyler Cheese. vs. Buffalo (1/28), @ Kent State (1/31)
21 Wright State 18-4 2 Wright State murdered Northern Kentucky on Friday leaving no doubt who is the class of the Horizon League. @ Milwaukee (1/31), @ Green Bay (2/2)
22 San Francisco 15-7 3 Nerdball lives. Late in its 83-82 win over BYU, Todd Golden's group played the odds by intentionally fouling forward Yoeli Childs, who missed his lone free throw. The Dons got the rebound and held on to their best win of the season. @ San Diego (1/30), vs. Gonzaga (2/1)
22 Louisiana Tech 15-5 NR The Bulldogs won a pair of road games this week, leaving them with just two more away from home before flex play begins. vs. Charlotte (1/30), vs. Old Dominion (2/1)
24 Loyola University Chicago 14-7 - The Ramblers took Northern Iowa to overtime on Sunday but couldn't quite finish the job. In spite of the loss, Porter Moser's team is still tied for first with the Panthers. If Loyola wins its next five games, then they can get another crack at UNI on Feb. 15 — this time with the MVC's regular-season title on the line. @ Southern Illinois (1/29), vs. Bradley (2/1)
25 North Texas 14-8 NR Welcome back, North Texas. The Mean Green have fought their way to the top of C-USA thanks to a seven-game win streak. Believe it or not, North Texas — not UTSA, Louisiana Tech or Western Kentucky — has the conference's best offense. Grant McCasland's group has a 57.6 eFG% in conference play and are shooting 40.4% from three, all thanks to junior guard Javion Hamlet and sophomore Umoja Gibson. @ Rice (2/1)

Also receiving votes: Western Kentucky, Nevada, Duquesne, Colgate, William & Mary, Bowling Green, Little Rock.