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The Other Top 25: BYU and Furman surge towards the top

Three new teams cracked the top 25 this week.

NCAA Basketball: Roman Legends Classic-Southern California at Brigham Young David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It was a weird week for the Other Top 25 as inequitable schedules and limited data thus far have made it difficult to parse out who’s really among the best in the country.

Gonzaga held onto the top spot, but there’s reason for moderate concern as Covid-19 has caused the program to pause all operations. The Bulldogs will miss out on five games, including last Saturday’s matchup against No. 2 Baylor before their next game against Iowa on December 19.

Further down the rankings, BYU and Furman cracked the top 10 on the strength of some quality wins in BYU’s case and an electric offense in Furman’s. Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine, and San Francisco also boosted the WCC’s representation in the top 25.

Some new names joined the ranks this week as well. The aforementioned San Francisco Dons strung together a pair of road wins to get in, while Abilene Christian continued its hot start by improving to 5-0. Winthrop rounds out the top 25 this week after a pair of neutral court wins against preseason Other Top 25 teams in UNC Greensboro and Little Rock.

The full rankings can be found here.

The Other Top 25 Week 3

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
1 Gonzaga 3-0 - The highly anticipated matchup with Baylor was postponed due to Covid issues within the program, and now the Bulldogs are shut down until December 14. They'll go over two weeks between their win against West Virginia last week and next Saturday's matchup with Iowa.
2 Richmond 2-0 - Nothing new to report with the Spiders after a Covid shutdown kept them out of action this week. A big week looms with Wofford, Northern Iowa, and West Virginia on the schedule.
3 Saint Louis 3-0 - If someone told you that Saint Louis would rank 2nd in the country in 3-point shooting (49.2%) after two weeks of action, would you have also bought the timeshare that they were trying to sell you in Florida? The Billikens rank in the top 50 on both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom.
4 San Diego State 4-0 1 SDSU is winning with defense so far this year. They've held all four of their opponents under 1.00 points per possesion and limited Pepperdine's Colbey Ross to just 10 points in Sunday's win.
5 Loyola University Chicago 1-0 1 Not much to update here on the Ramblers. They beat up on a non-D1 opponent in their first game back after a Covid shutdown. Given Northern Iowa's injury concerns, Loyola looks to be early favorite in the Missouri Valley.
6 Western Kentucky 3-2 -2 A really sloppy showing against Louisville was a bit of a letdown in a game that WKU should have been more competitive in. They rank 48th in offensive efficiency, but allowing opponents to hit 43.5% from deep is an early reason for concern defensively.
7 St. Bonaventure 0-0 - The Bonnies will FINALLY (we hope) start their season on Saturday against St. Francis PA. Will the Mid-Major Madness preseason hype curse claim another victim?
8 BYU 5-1 5 Wins over a pair of top 100 opponents in St. John's and rival Utah State gives the Cougars a nice boost heading into another pair of top 100 matchups against Boise State and Utah this week.
9 Furman 4-0 5 The Fur Men are absolutely torching opposing defenses so far this year to the tune of 89 points per game. All five starters are scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Mike Bothwell at 21.8 PPG to go with his 5 RPG, 4 APG and 2.3 SPG.
10 Boise State 2-1 1 It's still hard to get a read on Boise State given that only one of their games (Houston) has been against a remotely competitive team. A trip to Provo to face BYU should provide a nice litmus test.
11 Saint Mary's 4-1 8 Texas Southern put an early scare into SMC in Moraga, but the Gaels stabilized and ultimately finished off a comfortable two-win week. Don't say Randy Bennett can only recruit Australia. Estonian freshman wing Leemet Bockler was tremendous against the Tigers (20 points, 6-7 3FG), while Estonian junior post Matthias Tass (14 points, 5 rebounds) continued a solid campaign.
12 Dayton 1-1 -4 You need the buzzer to beat Dayton, apparently. Ibi Watson had seemingly given the Flyers a chance to keep their 21-game winning streak alive in overtime with a late three against SMU. Instead, like Colorado last December, the Mustangs broke Dayton's heart with a last second shot. Watson, Jalen Crutcher and the rest of the Flyers will look to start a new winning streak on Tuesday against Northern Kentucky, before playing Mississippi State in Atlanta on Saturday.
13 Duquesne 1-1 -3 Give them time. Despite their experience, the Dukes got off to a later start than most teams this season, having played only two games since their November 30th start date. Earning a respectable win over erstwhile Other Top 25 regular UNC Greensboro did enough to prevent them from sliding past 13th.
14 VCU 3-2 1 A tough loss on a buzzer beater to Penn State kept the Rams from rising more in the Other Top 25, but they've been one of the biggest mid-major surprises in this nascent season. Most of that can be attributed to Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland, through whom a good chunk of the offense flows.
15 Rhode Island 3-2 7 Rhody thoroughly handled Seton Hall in the second half to pick up their third top 100 win of the season. There's word that their adding a matchup against Wisconsin to the docket this week with Western Kentucky looming on Sunday. The Rams have not been shy about testing themselves in the non-con slate.
16 Pepperdine 2-2 2 The big signature win evaded the Waves once again as they squandered a double-digit second half lead to San Diego State. Colbey Ross has been as good as expected, but Kessler Edwards's continued emergence as a potent scorer has been a huge boost for the Waves' offense.
17 Belmont 3-1 -8 Riding high after taking home the Paradise Jam title, Belmont fell victim to a bad Samford team that exposed many of the defensive woes that have plagued the Bruins for years. With plenty of fresh faces in the rotation, it'll take some time for the Bruins to adjust and bring down the 56.6% effective field goal rate they're currently allowing on defense.
18 North Texas 1-2 -6 The Mean Green hung tough at Mississippi State but were unable to fully climb out of an early hole. The voters still have confidence in UNT despite back-to-back losses to SEC schools, and the Mean Green have a long layoff before getting a tasty chance to get their vaunted offense going against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Dec. 15.
19 Vermont 0-0 1 One of these days they'll get on the court. And when they do, they'll be good (like always).
20 South Dakota State 3-2 5 Don't look now but the Jacks quietly had one of the most impressive weeks in the country. SDSU's potent three-point attack (7th best in the country) surrounding Doug Wilson down low helped lead to wins at Iowa State and Bradley. The Jacks now head to Sioux Falls for a round robin tournament with the other three Dakota schools that will not count toward the programs' respective Summit League records.
21 San Francisco 4-2 NR A wait-and-see attitude emerged concering how to evaluate the Dons following their upset of Virginia. After running up healthy margins against Cal Poly and a skilled Nevada team this previous week, it seems safe to say that this well-balanced USF team could help see to it that we're treated to a 3-bid WCC.
22 Austin Peay 3-1 -1 The Governors beat Carver by 64 points and held the [checks notes] Cougars to less than .5 points per possession. The real test comes this week when Peay faces Murray State in a battle between the two best teams in the OVC.
23 Northern Iowa 1-3 -6 Tough break for the Panthers, dropping six spots despite winning this week (albeit over a non-D-I). Unfortunately when you're winless against D-I competition, you don't get the benefit of the doubt as more successful teams start building a resume.
24 Abilene Christian 5-0 NR The Wildcats are 5-0, and while their most recent victories aren't all that impressive, their first two came against East Tennessee State and Ausitn Peay. Could Abilene Christian, and not Stephen F. Austin, be the true favorite in the Southland?
25 Winthrop 2-0 NR Winthrop cracks The Other Top 25 after opening the season with wins over Sun Belt favorite Little Rock and previously ranked UNC Greensboro. With heir game against Duquesne now cancelled, the Eagles are idle until the start of Big South play.

Also receiving votes: Liberty, UNC Greensboro, New Mexico State, Ohio, Marshall, Georgia State, Mercer, Nevada, Davidson, UNLV