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The Other Top 25: Rust(on) never sleeps

Louisiana Tech shines down the home stretch in Conference USA play.

Louisiana Tech v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

For a Conference USA team, commanding widespread attention during a normal season is hard enough; accomplishing the same feat in a year where the majority of fans’ attention is devoted to tracking COVID postponements and sadistically viewing the foibles of the blue bloods requires a Herculean effort.

Even still, a team like Western Kentucky—thanks largely to the presence of future NBA moneymaker Charles Bassey—has, at times, been able to wrest national focus away from the power players. Big wins over schools like Alabama tend to do that.

Nevertheless, all the CUSA Hilltoppers hubbub has left another contender within the conference free to compete without the pressure that has been on WKU, well, ever since Rick Stansbury got to Bowling Green.

At 19-6 (12-4 CUSA), the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have quietly managed to put together one of the best records in the country. Owed mostly to its top-35 defense, this veteran team is led by forward Kenneth Lofton, Jr. The freshman’s offensive efficiency is stellar, as he’s currently shooting a laudable 56% from the field. Additionally, his ability to dominate the glass has helped allow Louisiana Tech smother opponents in the front court.

With the CUSA Tournament on the horizon, all eyes will likely be on Western Kentucky, but the Bulldogs, who have already notched wins against Marshall, North Texas, UAB, and the Hilltoppers themselves, will no doubt be in the mix.

My my, hey hey, these Bulldogs are here to stay.

The Other Top 25: Week 15

Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
Rank School Record Change Our reasoning
1 Gonzaga 24-0 - Now that Michigan looks awesome, the absurd #GonzagaDiscourse has begun among the national media. Don't get sucked in. Gonzaga has been the best team in college basketball this year.
2 Loyola University Chicago 21-4 - Loyola has won three in a row since it fell to Drake, but the Ramblers have hardly been automatic. Those three wins have come by a total of 17 points.
3 San Diego State 19-4 4 That's 10 in a row for San Diego State and, more importantly, two in a row against Boise State. The Aztecs needed some quality wins and they got them this weekend.
4 BYU 19-5 1 With two more wins this week, including one against Saint Mary's, you can now move the Cougars into the lock category for the NCAA Tournament.
5 Western Kentucky 16-5 -1 How badly were you hoping the 'Toppers would beat Houston? Oh well. The loss doesn't hurt them at all and the Fightin' Stansburys should be the 1 seed in the CUSA Tournament.
6 St. Bonaventure 13-3 2 Bona wraps up its regular season tonight against Dayton but has already secured the 1 seed in the A-10 Tournament. The Bonnies SHOULD be in the NCAA Tournament, but with no real non-conference season, a win or two in Richmond wouldn't hurt.
7 VCU 17-6 3 VCU is also in good at-large bid shape despite stumbling down the stretch. It would help if the Rams can get Bones Hyland back.
8 Belmont 24-3 -5 Back-to-back losses to close hte regular season has torpedoed any chance Belmont had at an at-large bid. The good news: Nick Muszynski is expected to return from injury for the OVC Tournament.
9 Boise State 18-6 -3 Boise's tournament standing had some cushion, but now with two losses to San Diego State, the Broncos need a win Tuesday against Fresno State. Get it done there and the Broncos will be in good shape.
10 Drake 24-3 -1 If Drake doesn't win Arch Madness, it'll be in for a LONG wait on Selection Sunday. That loss to Bradley (6-12 MVC) is not a great look.
11 Utah State 16-7 -3 Fresh off a sweep of Nevada, the Aggies have an outside shot at a Mountain West regular season title. Wyoming and Fresno State to close the regular season should both be wins.
12 Saint Louis 12-5 -1 SLU desperately needed that win over Richmond on Friday and even still might need to win the A-10 Tournament to go dancing. The Billikens got some good news this week when Javonte Perkins announced he would return next season.
13 Colorado State 15-4 -1 The Rams are right in that Last Four In territory despite five wins in their last six games, with two coming against Boise State and Utah State. They need wins on Monday and Wednesday, knowing a date at Nevada looms on Friday.
14 Winthrop 20-1 -1 Winthrop finished the regular season 20-1, but all that matters now is winning the Big South Tournament. That starts tonight with a third consecutive game against High Point.
15 Louisiana Tech 19-6 3 The Bulldogs wrapped up their regular season with four straight wins, including a 101-57 rout over Rice. Is it good when you shoot 17-31 from three for a game? Asking for a friend.
16 UC Santa Barbara 17-4 -1 The bad news: UCSB lost to UC Riverside this week for its first loss of 2021. The good news: Mid-Major Madness introduced #BigWestBevs for that game and it was fun.
17 Toledo 19-6 3 The Rockets played just once this week, but because everyone else in our rankings was horrible and lost, they move up three spots.
18 Wright State 18-5 1 The Raiders had a chance to sit back and watch a fun first night of the Horizon League Tournament. They'll get a Milwaukee team in the next round that played them tough twice.
19 Marshall 13-6 2 Marshall split with North Texas, which compared to the rest of our Top 25, is like winning eight straight games by 50-plus points.
20 Richmond 13-6 -4 The year started off with such promise for Richmond but, despite a solid record, has largely been a disappointment. Whatever. It all starts for real this week with the A-10 Tournament in the Spiders' home town.
21 Davidson 12-7 2 Davidson creeps up two spots in the rankings this week with a win over VCU. Potential A-10 Tournament sleeper?
22 Colgate 11-1 2 Colgate finished the regular season 11-1 and is top-15 in the NET. And the 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. Nothing about this world makes sense.
23 Liberty 20-5 NR LIMU Emu and Doug are here to tell you that Liberty has won eight in a row and will open the ASUN Tournament against Kennesaw State this week.
24 Abilene Christian 19-4 -7 Abilene Christian had been humming along through Southland play before collapsing against Central Arkansas, a team ranked 333rd in KenPom. Now they've fallen into a three-way tie for first in the conference with a week to go before the tournament.
25 North Texas 13-7 - The Mean Green stay in the rankings after a split with Marshall. UNT's standout defense will look to end Conference USA play on a positive note as UAB heads to Denton to close out the regular season.