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The Other Top 25: Dayton and Utah State head in opposite directions

The Flyers lost to Fordham and the Aggies are unbeaten since Dec. 5.

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t too long ago that the Dayton Flyers were 4-1 with their only loss to a then-unbeaten SMU team headed into Atlantic 10 play. Dayton was supposed to contend at the top of the league and looked every bit the part of an NCAA Tournament team.

Then, Chase Johnson (12.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG) announced he was leaving the program. That same day, the Flyers lost to La Salle and Rodney Chatman (10.0 PPG, 4.2 APG) suffered a hand injury that could sideline him for two months. After a close win over George Mason, Dayton then lost at Fordham (FORDHAM!).

Things aren’t going well for the program that had a realistic shot at winning the national championship in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The Flyers are now near the bottom of The Other Top 25, checking in at No. 23. One team that passed the Flyers: The Utah State Aggies.

Utah State has won eight in a row and is 6-0 in Mountain West play, though all six of those games were against the league’s worst three teams. Still, Utah State has built a top-25 defense, according to KenPom, and the Aggies are seventh in the country in block percentage thanks to Neemias Queta’s 2.8 blocks per game.

Here are the full rankings:

The Other Top 25: Week 8

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
1 Gonzaga 12-0 - The Bulldogs' 17-point win over BYU masks exactly how much of a blowout that game was. Gonzaga raced out to a 23-2 lead and was never threatened.
2 Saint Louis 7-1 - SLU has been off since before Christmas but finally returns to action this week against a Davidson team that is better than its 6-5 record.
3 Boise State 10-1 1 That's now 10 straight wins and a 6-0 start in conference play for Leon Rice's squad. Abu Kijab posted 25 points, 11 boards, and 5 assists against Air Force this week.
4 San Diego State 9-2 1 Circle Thursday and Saturday on your calendars. The Aztecs visit Utah State for a pair of games between two top-30 defenses.
5 BYU 9-3 -2 BYU has to put that loss to Gonzaga out of its head immediately as the road doesn't get much easier. Games at Saint Mary's and San Francisco await.
6 St. Bonaventure 4-1 2 Jaren Holmes (38 points) and Jalen Adaway (24 points) showed no mercy toward Saint Joseph's this week in an 83-57 win.
7 Richmond 9-3 3 The Spiders began to put their recent troubles behind them this week, beating Rhode Island at home and blowing out George Mason on the road. Grant Golden went for 18-and-10 against the Patriots.
8 Loyola University Chicago 7-3 -1 LUC's loss at Indiana State isn't all the concerning on its own. The bigger issue is that the Ramblers have no quality wins to speak of, partly due to COVID-19 issues.
9 Western Kentucky 9-4 -3 The Toppers have now lost two out of. three games, but each of their last four have been decided by five points or fewer.
10 VCU 9-3 -1 VCU lost their seven-game winning streak with a loss to Rhode Island but it still has one of the best defenses in the country (19 per KenPom).
11 Belmont 12-1 - Belmont is one fluke loss to Samford from an undefeated season. 12 Bruins scored in their most recent triumph over Tennessee Martin.
12 Winthrop 11-0 1 The Eagels are the fastest team in the country, per KenPom, and still haven't lost. You can either call it a coincidence or call on every team in America to speed it the hell up.
13 Drake 13-0 2 COVID-19 has interfered with our beautiful sport again, forcing the Bulldogs into a brief pause. If all goes well, they'll be back late next week.
14 Furman 8-3 2 After an idle week, the Paladins will face unbeaten The Citadel on Wednesday. Time to see if the Bulldogs are for real.
15 Rhode Island 6-6 3 The Rams get the closest thing to a break from their gauntlet of a schedule as is possible in the A-10 when they kick off a stretch of five straight games against sub-100 KenPom teams this week. The only problem is three are on the road.
16 Toledo 10-3 5 The Rockets still haven't lost since Dec. 9 and Marreon Jackson remains one of the best, most underappreciated players in America.
17 Utah State 9-3 8 Utah State is 6-0 in the Mountain West, but all six wins have come against the league's basement. That includes two routs over a dreadful New Mexico team this week.
18 Saint Mary's 9-3 -6 Yes, the Gaels are playing without starter Alex Ducas and backup forward Leemet Bockler, but dropping a winnable game against a Santa Clara team with no Quad. 1 wins does not inspire confidence. Ever since the Gaels held Colorado State to 33 points, opponents have been shooting 30% or better from three against Saint Mary's.
19 Abilene Christian 10-2 -2 The Wildcats didn't lose this week, but a weak Southland Conference has opened the door for other teams to pass them in the rankings.
20 Marshall 7-2 -1 The long-awaited Marshall-Western Kentucky series comes this week, first in Bowling Green on Friday, then in Huntington on Sunday.
21 Colorado State 8-2 2 Colorado State needed some late heroics from sophomore guard Isaiah Stevens to sweep UNLV, but the Rams have risen up the ranks in the Mountain West. That sophomore tandem of Stevens (15.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG) and David Roddy (16.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG) is already a force to be reckoned with.
22 South Dakota State 8-3 - The Jackrabbits returned to the court this week with three wins, including two by 25-or-more points.
23 Dayton 6-3 -9 We're at the point where escaping with an overtime win against Davidson is considered A Good Sign for the Flyers. Luckily, games against a reeling Duquesne team and George Washington could right the ship before playing VCU on Jan. 23.
24 UAB 9-1 NR UAB has held opponents to just a 41.1 eFG% this year and remains on the edge of the KenPom top 100.
25 Bowling Green 9-2 NR Justin Turner has socred in double figures in every game Bowling Green has played this season. The Falcons join Toledo as the only teams undefeated in MAC play.

Also receiving votes: Liberty, San Francisco, Louisiana Tech, Duquesne, Georgia State, Wright State, Santa Clara, Navy.