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The Other Top 25: Belmont climbs into the top 5

The 20-1 Bruins are an OVC tournament loss away from pissing off Power 5 fans again.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Ohio Valley Tournament - Murray State v Belmont Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Belmont Bruins are on their way toward a strong but controversial at-large resume.

Just like in 2019, when the Bruins went to the First Four and beat Temple, they have built a gaudy record with little substance to it. Still, with two blowout wins this week, Belmont is 20-1, unbeaten in the Ohio Valley, and with top-tier offensive efficiency. It all adds up to a spot in the top five of this week’s The Other Top 25.

Belmont can celebrate that this week before the haters start pointing out the lack of quality wins and an admittedly ugly loss to Samford.

It actually looks like about half of The Other Top 25 this week has a real at-large case — something we aren’t normally still saying well into February. Drake lost its first game of the season on Sunday but has a resume similar to Belmont’s, the dreams for a #4bidMWC are hanging by a thread, and the A-10 is a complete mess with a six-way tie in the loss column for first place.

Here’s how that all translates into rankings:

The Other Top 25: Week 12

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
1 Gonzaga 18-0 - This week, Gonzaga was down five early in the second half to Pacific, causing a great hubbub on Twitter. The Zags won by 18.
2 Loyola University Chicago 17-3 3 Loyola continues to break KenPom, bolstered in part by the 10-game win streak it's riding. Should everything go according to plan, we're set for a highly anticipated series between them and erstwhile undefeated Drake this weekend.
3 BYU 15-4 3 BYU nailed 15(!) threes in its demolition of Portland this past week, recovering as expected following a scare against Pacific. The Cougars, a program with a history of spoiling undefeated seasons for the Bulldogs, get their second shot at Gonzaga tonight.
4 Western Kentucky 13-4 3 A recent positive COVID test kept WKU from playing Florida Atlantic last weekend, but its talent and lack of recent disappointing results has allowed it to benefit from other teams' slip-ups.
5 Belmont 20-1 3 The Bruins currently have the most wins in the country, and the past week saw them expectedly hand drubbings to two OVC cellar dwellers. This week, Belmont will play host to EKU and Morehead State, two of the more surprising stories in the conference, putting their 18-game win streak in a momentary state of uncertainty.
6 Saint Louis 8-3 -2 Saint Louis came through in what felt like a do-or-die game for its at-large hopes, defeating a St. Bonaventure team that had been picking off quality A10 teams left and right. The La Salle loss leaves SLU little room for error, but the Billikens will get some tune-up games before ending the month with a killer trio of games.
7 St. Bonaventure 9-2 -4 There's absolutely no shame in losing to a once-ranked Saint Louis team that was basically only on a skid thanks to a lengthy COVID pause. The Bonnies remain a top-40 team in the NET, and get a chance at a quadrant 1 win when against VCU on Friday.
8 VCU 13-4 4 The Rams continue to quietly get the job done, as most of the A-10 attention has thus far been on Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure. Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland has been on a tear as of late, scoring 75 total points over his last three games.
9 San Diego State 13-4 - The Aztecs haven't played a good team since they were swept by Utah State in mid-January, and they won't play another good team until they close out February with a series against Boise State.
10 Boise State 14-4 -8 The first of two losses to Nevada this past weekend came in a particularly brutal fashion, but Boise had no answer for Grant Sherfield in either game.
11 Utah State 14-5 - The Aggies have the shakiest at-large resume of the MWC teams in contention for a bid, but they course-corrected following back-to-back losses at the end of January.
12 Drake 18-1 -2 Drake looked as if it was going to lose both games to Valparaiso last weekend, but saved its undefeated season on Saturday. Sunday? Not quite. The Bulldogs looked pitiful in the second matchup of the series, taking some of the air out of this weekend's clash with Loyola.
13 Colorado State 14-4 - Bracketologists see this as a potential banner year for the MWC, as it could put four teams in the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2013. Colorado State is one of the teams leading this charge, and KenPom currently has the Rams projected to win their remaining games.
14 Winthrop 16-1 - The Eagles haven't played since UNC Asheville handed them their first loss of the season on January 29th, but it goes without saying that they remain the favorite in the Big South.
15 Richmond 10-4 1 Due to COVID pauses, Richmond has yet to play a game in February.
16 UAB 16-2 2 UAB is running away with first place in the West Division of Conference USA thanks to its suffocating defense that does just about everything exceptionally well. The Blazers face their toughest test of the season this weekend, traveling to Ruston for a pair of games against Louisiana Tech.
17 Toledo 16-5 -2 Ball State went on a 22-3 run in the closing minutes of Saturday's win against Toledo, handing the Rockets just their second MAC loss. Regardless, they still appear to be the conference's team to beat.
18 Abilene Christian 15-3 4 The Southland has a lot of bad teams, and Abilene Christian continues to beat them. KenPom gives the Wildcats an 80%+ chance of winning in seven of their eight remaining games.
19 Dayton 11-5 - Lose to Duquesne, then beat George Mason. Last week was a bit of a wash, and their recent win over SLU has helped the Flyers stay put at No. 19.
20 Wright State 15-4 5 Advanced metrics LOVE this team, owed largely to their impressive defensive efficiency numbers. The Horizon League battle is between them and Cleveland State, and it's unfortunate that we might not see the two play again unless it's in the conference tournament.
21 Saint Mary's 11-5 -1 The Gaels haven't seen the court since their Jan. 23 win over San Francisco and impressive performances from other teams have come at the expense of SMC's spot in our rankings.
22 UC Santa Barbara 12-3 NR It has been a minute since the Gauchos last played a game, but their reputation precedes them: they've currently made their way to 53rd in the NET rankings (the next closest Big West team is 101st) thanks to an efficent offense and an undefeated record in 2021.
23 South Dakota State 11-4 -6 SDSU and South Dakota split their series last weekend, resulting in each team earning their first loss in Summit League play. Things only get harder as the Jackrabbits hit the road again, trekking from Tulsa to Fargo in the weeks ahead.
24 Davidson 10-5 - It has been over two weeks since Davidson beat UMass, the Wildcats' most recent result. Unfortunately, they'll miss out on a chance to play VCU this week, as that game was postponed due to COVID protocols.
25 Marshall 10-5 -4 The Herd blew a huge lead against ODU before bouncing back to beat the Monarchs the next night. For now, Marshall appears to be the third-best team in CUSA.

Also receiving votes: Grand Canyon, Liberty, Nevada, Morehead State, Louisiana Tech, North Texas.