Here are ESPN.com’s latest mid-major power rankings, as voted upon by our national panel. I also vote in this poll, which does not include any teams from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West.
Another quick look at the panel:
Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) covers Horizon League basketball for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Richard Kilwien (@smcgaels) is the associate athletic director for external affairs at Saint Mary's College.
Dusty Luthy Shull (@DustyLuthyShull) covers Murray State athletics for The Paducah (Ky.) Sun.
John Templon (@nybuckets) writes about New York City and East Coast mid-major college basketball for his website, nycbuckets.com.
Thomas Chen (@thomasmchen) is in his third year as director of athletic communications at Stony Brook University.
Terry Vandrovec (@terryvandrovec) covers South Dakota State basketball for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Mid-Major Power Rankings No. 2
Gonzaga (9-1): The Zags hold onto the No. 1 spot despite their home loss against Illinois.
Creighton (9-1): The Bluejays crushed Akron, 77-61, Sunday for their third win in a row.
Wichita State (9-0): The undefeated Shockers are ranked 29th in defensive efficiency.
Belmont (6-2): Tough stretch for the Bruins, who face MTSU and Kansas this week.
Bucknell (8-1): Mike Muscala. Google him.
Middle Tennessee State (7-2): The Blue Raiders beat Ole Miss, 65-62, on Saturday.
Lehigh (8-2): The Mountain Hawks haven’t lost since Nov. 13 (78-53 at Pitt).
Saint Mary’s (7-2): Like most years, the Gaels won’t really be tested again until WCC play begins.
Illinois St. (6-3): The Redbirds’ three losses have come against teams in Ken Pomeroy’s top 100.
Ohio (7-2): The Bobcats have won just one of three games in December.
Illinois-Chicago (8-1): Seven-game winning streak includes wins against Northwestern and Colorado St.
Northern Iowa (6-3): A win against Iowa on Saturday would be Panthers’ fourth in a row.
BYU (6-3): The Cougars are coming off a 61-58 win against Utah on Saturday.
North Dakota State (8-3): The Bison (62nd in defensive efficiency) are a top contender in the Summit.
Team of the Week: Middle Tennessee earns the nod this week after knocking off Ole Miss on Saturday, 65-62. The Rebels were just 5-for-21 from beyond the arc.
Player of the Week: Murray State’s Ed Daniel has entered Beast Mode. The senior recorded 21 points, 15 rebounds, a steal and three blocks in the Racers’ 82-70 road win against Evansville on Saturday.
Dan Monson’s Long Beach State squad always plays one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country. But that tough slate and the loss of last season’s core, including Casper Ware, has led to a rocky start for the 3-6 49ers, who will face UCLA Dec. 18.
Stephen F. Austin’s start proves that the RPI can be a deceptive measuring stick for a team’s performance. Per RPI, the 9-1 Lumberjacks are fifth and 16th in nonconference strength of schedule. But they’re ranked 117th in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, largely due to their poor offensive efficiency (232).
Paging the WCC? The league’s nonconference season has been lukewarm thus far. And I thought that before Gonzaga lost to Illinois over the weekend.
Where’s the national hype for Howard Moore? The Illinois-Chicago head coach has led the Flames to an 8-1 start. And they’ve already defeated Northwestern and Colorado State. They look like the favorites to win the Horizon League.
Now that we’ve covered the week that was, here’s my take on the top games this weekend involving mid-major teams …