We’re getting down to the nitty gritty of the regular season.
With only a few weeks left to go before conference tournaments kick into high gear, every game is important.
That was the case in Richmond on Saturday in a matchup of crosstown rivals on different sides of the bubble. It was the Richmond Spiders that bested VCU, vaulting closer to being on the right side of the bubble while the Rams week from hell dealt a major blow to their resume. As a result, the Spiders saw the biggest rise in this week’s Other Top 25, while VCU had a drastic fall to No. 16.
Throughout the rest of the poll, it was mostly chalk. Rhode Island jumped up a spot thanks to Northern Iowa’s overtime loss to Loyola Chicago. Nearly everyone in the top 15 benefited from VCU’s fall from grace.
Loyola Chicago returned to the top 25 following the aforementioned win over the Panthers over the weekend. The Ramblers will likely end up being Northern Iowa’s biggest threat in Arch Madness.
Two teams towards the bottom—North Texas and Western Kentucky—will face each other down the stretch of the season with Conference USA’s bonus play going into effect. The Hilltoppers won the only matchup between the two at the onset of conference play back in early January.
Here’s the entire poll for the week.
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||26-1||-||The Bulldogs' march towards a No. 1 seed cruised on with a 12-point win against Pepperdine. Saturday's tilt against BYU in Provo will be their biggest test in WCC play to date.||2/20 vs. San Francisco, 2/22 at BYU|
|2||San Diego State||26-0||-||San Diego State survived what was their biggest remaining challenge to an undefeated season with a convincing 17-point road win against Boise State. KenPom now gives the Aztecs a 67.6% chance of an unbeaten record.||2/22 vs. UNLV|
|3||Dayton||23-2||-||Dayton handled Rhode Island with relative ease and dispatched UMass to win their 14th straight game. Matchups against VCU and Duquesne could be tricky, but the Flyers have shown no signs of slowing down in A-10 play.||2/18 at VCU, 2/22 vs. Duquesne|
|4||BYU||21-7||-||It took a late defensive stop to escape San Diego unscathed, but Mark Pope and Co. locked up when they needed to. The nation's best 3-point shooting team has a chance to really boost its tournament resume when Gonzaga comes to town on Saturday. The Mariott Center is going to be rocking.||2/20 vs. Santa Clara, 2/22 vs. Gonzaga|
|5||Rhode Island||19-6||1||There's no shame in losing to Dayton, and Rhody still remains comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field. Their lone matchup against Davidson this week is another opportunity for a solid win on the resume.||2/22 at Davidson|
|6||Northern Iowa||22-4||-1||The Panthers had been surging up the seed lines up until an OT loss to Loyola Chicago curtailed that momentum over the weekend. A sputtering Indiana State team is still a Q2 opportunity this week, but UNI probably can't afford to take another loss if it wants to remain in the at-large mix.||2/20 at Indiana State, 2/23 vs. Southern Illinois|
|7||Saint Mary's||20-6||1||Saint Mary's handled their business against Pacific in their only game of the week. A pair of home games this week should hopefully make for a stress-free week. The Gaels are currently projected as a No. 9 seed in Bracket Matrix.||2/20 vs. Loyola Marymount, 2/22 vs. San Diego|
|8||ETSU||23-4||1||According to T-Rank, ETSU has a 72.6% chance of an at-large bid. Take that with a grain of salt, however. The Bucs have a chance to step into the driver's seat in the SoCon race with Furman coming to town this week.||2/19 vs. Furman, 2/22 at Samford|
|9||UNC Greensboro||21-6||1||UNCG has won nine of the last 10 and is staying within striking distance of the bubble. Losing on two buzzer beaters early in the season could prove to be some of the baddest beats of the season if they come back to bite them on Selection Sunday.||2/19 vs. Wofford, 2/22 at VMI|
|10||Richmond||19-6||4||Richmond kept their bubble in tact with rout over crosstown rival VCU. They're still in Bracket Matrix's next four out, but KenPom projects them as the favorite in five of their final six games. The Spiders are going to be in the bubble mix if they can hold serve.||2/19 vs. George Mason, 2/22 at St. Bonaventure|
|11||Utah State||21-7||1||A nice pair of road wins keeps the Aggies around the bubble. They're up to No. 41 in the NET, and are the First Team Out in Bracket Matrix. A favorable schedule to close out Mountain West play should keep the momentum going into the MWC Tournament.||2/19 vs. Wyoming|
|12||Furman||22-5||1||The Fur Men are hot right now, having won seven straight. With road matchups against ETSU and UNCG still on the docket, the Paladins have a shot at claiming a sole share of the SoCon title.||2/19 at ETSU, 2/22 vs. Wofford|
|13||Yale||18-6||-2||Trying to predict Ivy League outcomes has become a lost cause. Yale currently boasts the most efficient offense and defense in league play, and they already hold a road win over Princeton, who is also 6-2 atop the standings.||2/21 at Cornell, 2/22 at Columbia|
|14||New Mexico St||21-6||1||It feels like the Aggies haven't lost a WAC game since the Obama administration. It took a Jabari Rice buzzer beater to beat Utah Valley, but NMSU has now won 15 straight games and are well on their way to a 16-0 WAC season.||2/22 vs. UTRGV|
|15||Vermont||21-6||1||Death, taxes, Vermont crushing everyone in the America East. The Catamounts are 11-1 and running away with the conference title once again.||2/20 at Stony Brook, 2/22 vs. UMBC|
|16||VCU||17-8||-9||VCU went from likely earning at-large bid to a team in danger of missing the tournament in three days. Last Wednesday's home loss to George Mason — a team with a 3-8 record in A-10 play — was egregious; the road loss at fellow bubble team Richmond last Saturday was less so, but just barely. Now the Rams could be staring at a four-game losing streak with this week's games against Dayton and Saint Louis.||2/18 vs. Dayton, 2/21 at Saint Louis|
|17||Saint Louis||18-7||-||Last week's 15-point win over La Salle was a breather in the Billikens' nerve-wracking Atlantic 10 slate. Six of Saint Louis's 12 A10 games have been decided by two possessions and three of those have gone into overtime, yet the Billikens haven't beaten the conference's better teams in close games. They've gotten close against Dayton both times — maybe this week's game against VCU will buck the trend.||2/18 @ Massachusetts, 2/21 vs. VCU|
|18||Liberty||24-3||-||The Flames are still a half game back in the standings behind North Florida, but their matchup on Thursday could end up being the de-facto title game for the regular season crown.||2/20 vs. North Florida, 2/22 vs. Stetson|
|19||North Texas||18-9||-||A scorching offense propelled North Texas to a 12-2 record in CUSA play. With bonus play commencing this week, their meteoric rise in the advanced metrics will be put to the test by the league's best teams.||TBD|
|20||Wright State||23-5||2||Here's a weird thing: Wright State hasn't played a single Q1 or Q2 game all season (h/t to Jim Root @2ndChancePoints). The Raiders scored a season-high 106 points in a 40-point rout of IUPUI on Sunday.||2/20 at Youngstown State, 2/22 at Cleveland State|
|21||Stephen F. Austin||22-3||-2||The Jacks are cruising to the Southland title at 13-1 after dispatching TAMUCC over the weekend, which had been the only team to beat SFA in league play this season.||2/19 vs. Central Arkansas, 2/22 at Incarnate Word|
|22||Loyola||18-9||NR||The most revealing parts about Loyola's win over Northern Iowa? The Ramblers' three-point defense (UNI was 12-32 from three, committed 16 turnovers) and Cameron Krutwig's dominance underneath. The Panthers didn't have an answer for Krutwig late; the junior finished with a 21 and 10 double-double. This week's road game Missouri State is one of two losses KenPom predicts from here on out (the other being the season-finale at Bradley).||2/19 vs. Illinois State, 2/22 at Missouri State|
|23||Akron||19-6||NR||Akron has as good of a claim as anyone in the MAC to being the league's best team. The Zips have won three straight and are No. 44 in KenPom's offensive efficiency metrics.||2/18 at Western Michigan, 2/22 vs. Miami OH|
|24||Western Kentucky||18-8||-1||Ever since Western Kentucky dropped back-to-back games against FIU and Florida Atlantic, the Hilltoppers have beaten Louisiana Tech and have won their last three games by an average of four points. As if C-USA's bonus play needed to be more interesting, the Hilltoppers are the only team in the bonus play to beat North Texas, which has a one-game lead over WKU in the conference standings. Buckle up.||TBD|
|25||Duquesne||18-6||NR||This week, the Dukes will try to avenge last month's 73-69 loss to Dayton, which was the closest any A10 team not named Saint Louis has gotten to beating the Flyers. Duquesne is in need of more Q1-2 wins (they're only 2-2, and all of those games have come in conference play), yet its back-loaded A10 schedule will give the team plenty of opportunities to make up for its weak non-conference resume.||2/19 vs. George Washington, 2/22 at Dayton|
Also receiving votes: Louisiana Tech 11, Belmont 5, Harvard 5, Colorado State 3, Boise State 2, South Dakota State 1