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The Other Top 25: Saint Mary’s and Winthrop continue their climb

Teams in the Other Top 25 make their moves as non-conference play winds down.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at St. Mary’s Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the college basketball season has been rolling for almost a month and almost everyone has played, we can finally start cutting out preseason expectations from the rankings rationale.

Non-conference play is winding down, and last week was another strong week for teams in the Other Top 25. Gonzaga continued their romp through college basketball’s best teams. Saint Louis, Richmond, Western Kentucky, and Dayton all took down Power 5 teams, while BYU and Winthrop vanquished fellow Other Top 25 opponents to continue their climb.

The criteria that the Selection Committee will use is still up in the air, but there are plenty of teams and conferences as a whole that have made the most of the non-conference slate to be in position for at-large discussion.

With conference play ramping up this week in some places and the final marquee opportunities for non-con wins wrapping up, here are this week’s rankings.

The Other Top 25 Week 5

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
1 Gonzaga 4-0 - The Zags rolled out of bed after a long Covid layoff and nearly hung 100 on No. 3 Iowa. We might be looking at a "Gonzaga vs. The Field" situation for the national championship.
2 Saint Louis 6-1 1 SLU split their games against Power 5 schools last week, and could very well crack the AP Top 25. Ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency on KenPom, this is Travis Ford's best offensive team at SLU by a wide margin.
3 Richmond 6-1 1 It got a little bit dicey late, but Richmond held on to pick up a nice neutral court win against Loyola Chicago. The Kentucky win continues to lose its luster, but the Spiders should still wind up with a solid non-con resume.
4 Western Kentucky 6-2 1 A MONSTER 27-point, 12-rebound showing from Charles Bassey helped give WKU a marquee win on the road against Alabama. The Hilltoppers have actually lived up the hype against their quality opponents and now have four top-100 KenPom wins.
5 BYU 7-2 3 BYU earned one of the most impressive wins in college basketball last week by rolling into Viejas Arena and thoroughly handling San Diego State, which could end up being HUGE come Selection Sunday.
6 San Diego State 5-1 -4 The Aztecs get a chance to bounce back from their BYU loss with a neutral court matchup against a Saint Mary's team that is rolling right now.
7 Boise State 4-1 - Boise State drew a favorable start to Mountain West play as they'll host New Mexico twice this week. BSU still looks like the biggest threat to SDSU in the conference.
8 Saint Mary's 8-1 3 In Saturday's matchup against Colorado State, the Gaels held CSU to just 33 (!!) points for a 0.52 PPP mark. It's still early, but this has been Randy Bennett's best team in terms of defensive efficiency. Just as we all expected.
9 St. Bonaventure 2-0 - The Bonnies made their highly anticipated debut last season and walked away with a pair of wins. Nothing exciting, but they handled their business against two teams that they should beat in the lead up to A-10 play.
10 Dayton 4-1 - The backcourt trio of Ibi Watson, Jalen Crutcher and Rodney Chatman accounted for 55 of the Flyers' 65 points in their win a top-50 Ole Miss team. They'll have over a week to prepare for the start of A-10 play.
11 Loyola University Chicago 3-2 -5 Loyola took a big hit due to a brutal set of games against Wisconsin and Richmond last week. With UNI's injury issues, the Ramblers are still the prohibitive favorite to win the Missouri Valley. Also, our Large Rowdy Son Cameron Krutwig ranks 6th in KenPom's POY standings.
12 VCU 6-2 - VCU has the best defense in the A-10 so far this year, ranking 16th in efficiency on KenPom. One last tuneup against LSU in the Will Wade Bowl provides another chance for a marquee win for the Rams and the A-10 as a whole.
13 Belmont 7-1 2 The OVC campaign started last week for the Bruins, and they walked away with a pair of wins against bottom feeders Kennesaw State and Tennessee State. Against Tennessee State, all 12 Bruins that played scored. Pretty good.
14 Duquesne 1-1 - It'll have been almost a month between games when Duquesne opens A-10 play against Saint Louis next week. Have fun with that! Thanks Covid!
15 Winthrop 5-0 2 Winthrop loves to vanquish their fellow Other Top 25 companions and picked up their best win of the season by whipping Furman by 16 last week. Pat Kelsey's deep bench has allowed the Eagles to play at one of the fastest paces in the country as they bombard opposing defenses.
16 Furman 5-3 -3 The bad news: Furman has lost three out of four and has not beaten a Division I opponent in 16 days. The good news: That's the roughest stretch the Paladins will play this season and a characteristically strong Southern Conference will give them chances to make up for it.
17 Abilene Christian 7-1 3 Wins over McMurry and Hardin-Simmons didn't exactly move the needle here. The Wildcats rose three spots this week thanks to some losses by teams around them. We'll see if a trip to Arkansas on Tuesday brings them back down to Earth.
18 Marshall 5-1 -2 The Thundering Herd finally lost a game, but this team is still fun as hell. Marshall ranks tenth nationally in tempo and has scored at least 80 points in five of its six games.
19 Vermont 0-0 - At long last, Vermont opens its season on Monday against UMass Lowell. The Catamounts are not projected to lose any conference games this season (per KenPom), but diving head first into America East play against a team that's been going for a month now is no easy task.
20 San Francisco 6-4 4 You try figuring out the Dons. This is the type of team that will lose to San Diego on New Year's Eve, and then for the hell of it, hand Gonzaga its first loss of the season.
21 South Dakota State 5-3 - The Jackrabbits stay put despite a neutral-court loss to South Dakota. Six SDSU players had at least eight points in that one, but Stanley Umude had 41 for the Coyotes.
22 North Texas 3-3 1 The Mean Green have no bad losses but also no good wins. Back-to-back games against UAB to kick off the new year will tell us if they truly deserve a spot in The Other Top 25.
23 Liberty 7-3 NR The Flames enter the rankings a week before conference play begins, and as is tradition in the ASUN, that can only mean one thing: We're going to be having ridiculous at-large arguments soon enough.
24 Rhode Island 3-5 -6 Is there any team with a weirder resume than URI? The Rams are 3-5, with all five of those losses coming to good teams, and all three of their wins are against KenPom top-100 programs. Wednesday's clash with St. Bonaventure is a must-have if URI hopes to still be ranked next week.
25 Toledo 6-3 NR Marreon Jackson (23 pts, 7 rbd, 8 ast) had a near triple-double in the Rockets' overtime win at Marshall. Without a bad loss on their record, Toledo now has the best resume in a competitive MAC.

Also receiving votes: Drake, New Mexico State, Chattanooga, Pepperdine, Georgia State, UAB, UNC Greensboro, Davidson, Wright State, Southern Illinois, UC Santa Barbara