We have a shakeup at No. 1 and, thankfully, it doesn’t involve a loss.
San Diego State’s quest for the NCAA Tournament’s top line didn’t falter last week, as the Aztecs took care of Air Force. But they fall nonetheless, because Gonzaga went to Moraga and seemingly didn’t miss in shooting Saint Mary’s out of their own gym. The dominant, 30-point win makes their Feb. 22 visit to Provo the most likely obstacle to a second consecutive undefeated league campaign.
Elsewhere, #AxeEm Nation can finally rest easy.
Stephen F. Austin, winners of eight straight games and owner of a slightly notable win earlier in the season, have finally cracked the Other Top 25. The voters have at long last seen enough from the Lumberjacks, whether it’s Kevon Harris’s star season or the country’s most disruptive defense, to open the door for them to jump all the way from unranked to No. 20. We now await the avalanche as to why that’s not high enough.
There was plenty of movement around SFA at the bottom of the table. Despite a thrilling win at Yale, Harvard clings to the very bottom after losing three of its last four overall. Belmont and Western Kentucky have ridden solid runs of play to get back into the mix, while Wright State jumps back in after a one-week absence.
North Texas, which has shot lights out in conference play, also returns after a one-week absence, and does so in a resounding way, climbing all the way to No. 19.
Other than the Crimson, the largest fall belongs to Saint Louis, which is just the harsh reality of the barren, unforgiving poll universe and, perhaps, the A-10. The Billikens indeed took a loss over the weekend, but did so in competitive fashion at Dayton, keeping the Flyers’ lethal offense in check for the second time this season. Unfortunately, this compounded a midweek loss at home to Duquesne — not enough to get the Dukes back in the mix — and SLU will try to rebound back in the Gateway City against La Salle on Saturday.
Here’s how the entire poll shakes out:
The Week 15 rankings took results into account through Feb. 9 (note: this did not include Winthrop’s loss to Radford, so please direct your outrage accordingly).
The Other Top 25: Week 15
|Rank||School||Record||Change||Our reasoning||This week's games|
|Rank||School||Record||Change||Our reasoning||This week's games|
|1||Gonzaga||25-1||1||San Diego State is still undefeated, but the Bulldogs are back at No. 1. If you're wondering why, then you must have missed their game Saturday night where they dominated Saint Mary's from start to finish, winning 90-60 on the road. The nation's most efficient offense got 20 points off the bench from Drew Timme on 7-8 shooting.||@ Pepperdine (2/15)|
|2||San Diego State||24-0||-1||The drop is no knock against the Aztecs at all as the difference between them and Gonzaga is paper-thin. SDSU took care of Air Force this week and KenPom now gives it a 48% chance to finish the regular season unbeaten.||vs. New Mexico (2/11), @ Boise State (2/16)|
|3||Dayton||21-2||—||The Flyers are headed into a four-game stretch where they face Rhode Island, VCU, and Duquesne. It sounds daunting, but Dayton has already beaten VCU and Duquesne and has not lost since before Christmas.||vs. Rhode Island (2/11), @ Massachusetts (2/15)|
|4||BYU||19-7||—||BYU has seven losses, which seems like a lot for a WCC team hoping to make the tournament. The Cougars are also No. 17 in KenPom and have taken down Saint Mary's and San Francisco in the last two weeks.||@ Loyola Marymount (2/13), @ San Diego (2/15)|
|5||Northern Iowa||21-3||1||Let's get this out of the way: If the Panthers falter in Arch Madness and don't make the NCAA Tournament, America will suffer. The Panthers are still relatively unknown and unappreciated on a national scale despite being one of the best shooting teams in the country.||vs. Illinois State (2/12), @ Loyola (2/15)|
|6||Rhode Island||18-5||1||If you haven't bought in on the at-large URI dream... what are you waiting for?||@ Dayton (2/11), vs. Saint Joseph's (2/15)|
|7||VCU||17-6||2||If the Rams play defense like they did during the first half of last Saturday's win over Davidson, then they should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Another resume-boosing game against Richmond awaits this weekend.||vs. George Mason (2/12), @ Richmond (2/15)|
|8||Saint Mary's||20-6||-3||The Gaels ran into a buzzsaw against the Zags, and that is what it is. With an at-large still on table, the schedule is manageable until they see their archrival again.||vs. Pacific (2/15)|
|9||ETSU||21-4||—||Sweeping two games on the road allowed ETSU to keep pace atop the SoCon. Steve Forbes the road warrior.||vs. The Citadel (2/12), @ VMI (2/15)|
|10||UNC Greensboro||19-6||1||The Spartans cruised in what qualifies as a manageable week in the SoCon. It gets real again with a visit from Western Carolina.||vs. Western Carolina (2/12), @ Mercer (2/15)|
|11||Yale||17-5||-1||A missed free throw led to heartbreak against Harvard, but the Bulldogs rebounded with a win over Dartmouth. A marquee showdown co-league leader Princeton awaits.||@ Princeton (2/14), @ Penn (2/15)|
|12||Utah State||19-7||2||If the Aggies are going to salvage their at-large case, it'll take sweeping this week with road trips to Fort Collins and Fresno. That's no easy task.||@ Colorado State (2/11), @ Fresno State (2/15)|
|13||Furman||20-5||—||In the midst of another good season, the Paladins notched their best road win over the season last weekend at Western Carolina.||@ Samford (2/12), vs. Chattanooga (2/15)|
|14||Richmond||17-6||1||Sure, it was a win over Fordham, but Blake Francis returned and dropped 18 points. So yes, it was a big deal.||@ La Salle (2/12), vs. VCU (2/15)|
|15||New Mexico St||19-6||2||The Aggies are on another of their patented, gaudy win streaks (13 games) and got good news on injured star Trevelin Queen. Things are looking good.||vs. Seattle (2/13), vs. Utah Valley (2/15)|
|16||Vermont||19-6||—||Vermont eked out a win at Hartford without getting much from Anthony Lamb. Stony Brook remains in striking distance, but time is becoming a factor.||vs. New Hampshire (2/12), vs. Binghamton|
|17||Saint Louis||17-7||-5||SLU could've put an intruging point on its at-large resume against Dayton. Nonetheless, the Billikens made a statement with how they junked the Flyers potent offense.||vs. La Salle (2/15), @ Massachusetts (2/18)|
|18||Liberty||23-3||2||The Flames have now on four straight after their two-game hiccup.||vs. NJIT (2/15)|
|19||North Texas||16-9||NR||The CUSA leader has been brutally efficient from three in league play, shooting 41.2 percent as a team. Is the Mean Green's first CUSA title in the cards?||vs. Charlotte (2/13), vs. Old Dominion (2/15)|
|20||Stephen F. Austin||21-3||NR||You asked for it, you begged for it: the team that beat Duke is in the Other Top 25. Kevon Harris has scored in double figures in all Southland games but one.||@ Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2/12)|
|21||Winthrop||18-8||2||Until a furious comeback against Radford fell short, the Eagles had won 14 straight. Even with the loss, they've got our attention.||@ Gardner Webb (2/13), @ Presbyterian (2/15)|
|22||Wright State||21-5||NR||Our voters still believe in the Raiders, who bounced back from a disappointing loss at Green Bay to beat Detroit and Oakland at home.||vs. UIC (2/14), vs. IUPUI (2/16)|
|23||Western Kentucky||16-8||NR||It's been a chaotic season but the Bassey-less Hilltoppers are still in thick of the CUSA race, and get back in the rankings in part because of a nice win against Louisiana Tech.||@ UTEP (2/13), @ UTSA (2/15)|
|23||Belmont||18-7||NR||A stalwart returns after a long absence. The Bruins back-to-back top-152 KenPom wins over Murray State and Austin Peay, respectively, put them back in the mix.||vs. Tennessee State (2/13), vs. Jacksonville State (2/15)|
|25||Harvard||14-7||-7||The Crimson's by-the-hair-on-their-chinny-chin-chin win over Yale avoided a four-game skid, and keeps them in the rankings. For now.||vs. Cornell (2/14), vs. Columbia (2/15)|