Ah, conference play. The time where those plucky sub-.500 teams scare the contenders, deep conferences auto-cannibalize and promising at-large resumes might be jeopardized by, say, losing in quadruple overtime to Pacific. We love it, don’t we?
The Other Top 25 poll might not love it.
The rankings went through another dramatic shakeup. Even though the first week of conference play (with apologies to the Big West and the Ivy League, which start this week) brought a slew of entertaining games, several of the nation’s best non-Power 5/Big East/AAC teams flirted with disastrous losses.
The nation’s current No. 1 Gonzaga remains atop our poll too, even with close calls at Portland and at home against Pepperdine. Ditto for No. 2 San Diego State, which had a lousy first-half against Fresno State, then rebounded for a nine-point win. No. 3 Dayton held off two lower-tier opponents to open Atlantic 10 play, yet wins are wins.
Speaking of, the A-10 avoided team entropy for another week.
Marcus Santos-Silva willed No. 5 VCU back into the top five and Richmond returned to the top 10 with convincing wins over Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island, which clings to No. 23 in this week’s poll — even with losses to Brown and Richmond. Saint Louis (No. 16) and Duquesne (No. 19) are still here. At least one of these teams is bound to fall out in next week’s poll — the A-10 is going to be an absolute gauntlet this season, so it’s expected — the question becomes which one.
The A-10 wasn’t the only conference that surged in the poll. Nevada entered the poll at No. 25, giving the Mountain West four teams in the rankings. The Wolf Pack hasn’t missed a beat since its solid non-conference showing: Saturday’s big home win over Boise State not only extended Nevada’s MWC home game win streak to 14, but also made the Wolf Pack one of three undefeated teams in the conference. The other two? The aforementioned San Diego State and UNLV, of all teams.
Over in the SoCon, No. 7 Furman broke into the top 10 after beating preseason league favorite East Tennessee State in an entertaining 65-56 game. The Bucs, on the other hand, dropped to No. 12 with the loss. A mid-week matchup with No. 14 UNC Greensboro is now must-see basketball with potential conference tournament seeding implications on the line.
Here’s the full poll. As usual, any questions, comments or concerns must be sent via carrier pigeon.
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||16-1||–||The Zags didn't look great against two bottom-tier WCC opponents, but wins are wins.||@ San Diego (1/9), @ Loyola Marymount (1/11)|
|2||San Diego State||15-0||–||The Aztecs overcame their biggest hurdle to an uindefeated regular season on Saturday at Utah State.||@ Wyoming (1/8), vs. Boise State (1/11)|
|3||Dayton||13-2||–||Sure, La Salle and Saint Joe's are both down, but the Flyers beat them both on the road and are favored to win every game remaining on their schedule, per KenPom.||vs. UMass (1/11)|
|4||BYU||12-4||1||The Cougs rank 11th in the country in three-point percentage (39.1) and 10th in three-point percentage defense (26.9). Not a bad combo.||@ Saint Mary's (1/9), vs. Portland (1/11)|
|5||VCU||12-3||2||Marcus Santos-Silva went 10-14 from the field en route to 26 points and 12 boards against George Mason on Sunday.||vs. Rhode Island (1/11)|
|6||Saint Mary's||14-3||-2||The Gaels' quadruple overtime loss to Pacific may have been the most exciting game of the year. They just couldn't win it.||vs. BYU (1/9), vs. Santa Clara (1/11)|
|7||Furman||13-3||6||Even without Matt Rafferty, Furman still has the core of its team from last year. Shame on us for undervaluing the Paladins in the preseason.||@ Chattanooga (1/8), vs. UNC Greensboro (1/11)|
|8||Utah State||13-4||-2||There's no shame in taking a loss to San Diego State. It's the loss to UNLV that hurts the most.||@ Air Force (1/7), vs. Nevada (1/11)|
|9||Northern Iowa||12-2||-1||The Panthers narrowly averted disaster this week by ekeing by Bradley at home following a loss at Illinois State.||vs. Indiana State (1/7), @ Missouri State (1/11)|
|10||Richmond||12-3||7||If the Spiders hadn't lost to Radford, they'd be a likely at-large team by this point. Hope for that is still alive with a pair of KenPom top-100 games coming this week.||vs. Saint Louis (1/11)|
|11||Yale||10-4||1||The Bulldogs didn't play last week and move up due to losses around them.||vs. Johnson & Whales (1/12)|
|12||ETSU||13-3||-2||The start of SoCon play hasn't been kind to the preseason favorites, who eked out one-point win over Wofford and got boatraced by an incredibly balanced Furman team. But the biggest concern is the Bucs' shooting slump: They've shot just 39.3% from the field and an ice-cold 21.3% from three.||@ UNC Greensboro (1/8), vs. VMI (1/11)|
|13||New Mexico||13-3||-4||A buzzer-beater by San Jose State sunk the Lobos on New Year's Day and they were given the rest of the week off to think about it.||vs. Fresno State (1/7), vs. Air Force (1/11)|
|14||UNC Greensboro||12-4||–||The double-overtime loss to Wofford on the road wasn't horrific, yet the Spartans get ETSU and Furman this week to truly show what their made of in what appears to be a rock-solid SoCon.||vs. East Tennessee State (1/8), @ Furman (1/11)|
|15||Louisiana Tech||11-3||5||Spanking Southern Miss once was cool. Doing it twice? Way cooler. The Bulldogs are still in the top 50 in offensive efficiency as they continue rolling into conference play.||@ UTSA (1/9), @ UTEP (1/11)|
|16||Saint Louis||11-3||-1||Despite suffering a blowout loss to Duquense on the road, Saint Louis managed to bounce back and topple UMass in overtime thanks to Hasahn French's double-double (19pts, 13 rebounds).||vs. George Washington (1/8), @ Richmond (1/11)|
|17||Vermont||10-5||2||The Catamounts made quick work of Dartmouth in their final tune-up before conference play arrives.||vs. Stony Brook (1/8), @ UMBC (1/11)|
|18||Liberty||16-1||–||Beating Dunk City and NJIT means that Liberty remains ranked in this week's poll.||vs. North Alabama (1/9), vs. Jacksonville (1/11)|
|19||Duquesne||12-2||6||The aforementioned blowout against Saint Louis bled into a big win against Davidson at home, making those back-to-back losses against UAB and Marshall seem like a distant memory.||@ Saint Joseph's (1/8), @ George Washington (1/11)|
|20||Harvard||11-4||2||Tommy Amaker's squad got two big wins and continue to be highly efficient from inside the three-point line (53%)||NO GAMES|
|21||Wright State||14-3||2||Winners of 7 straight, the Raiders made no bones about moving to 4-0 in Horizon League, continuing to push the tempo and pace against whomever crosses their path.||@ IUPUI (1/10), @ UIC (1/12)|
|22||Kent State||11-3||2||Antonio Williams dumped in 22 points against Bowling Green to get the Golden Flashes a win to kick off conference play.||vs. Toledo (1/7), vs. Central Michigan (1/11)|
|22||Rhode Island||8-5||-11||If you thought losing by double-digits to Brown was bad, the Rams proceeded to drop a home game to Richmond to convince everyone that they'd just had a week from hell.||vs. Davidson (1/8), @ VCU (1/11)|
|24||Akron||11-3||NR||Akron arrives in the rankings thanks to an 11-3 record, a convincing 25-point win to open MAC play and because of its defense. The Zips hold opponents to 43.3% shooting, good for 19th in the nation.||vs. Western Michigan (1/7), vs. Ball State (1/10)|
|25||Nevada||10-5||NR||The Wolf Pack bounced back after their loss to Saint Mary's with big home wins against Colorado State and Boise State this past week to get to 3-0 in Mountain West play.||@ San Jose State (1/8), @ Utah State (1/11)|
Also receiving votes: New Mexico State (7), Stephen F. Austin (4), George Mason (4).