Mid-Major Report: Power Rankings

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
10:30
AM ET
Here are the latest mid-major power rankings for ESPN.com, 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.

Leslie Wilhite (@Leslie_Wilhite, @MT_MBB) is in her second season as an assistant director of athletic communications at Middle Tennessee State University.

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. 5
  1. Gonzaga (16-1, 3-0 WCC) -- This might be the best Bulldogs team in Mark Few’s tenure.
  2. Creighton (17-1, 6-0 MVC) -- Doug McDermott should top your ballot for national POY.
  3. Bucknell (15-3, 2-0 Patriot) -- Does Mike Muscala (19.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg) deserve consideration, too?
  4. Wichita State (16-2, 5-1 MVC) -- Carl Hall returns in time for weekend clash against Creighton.
  5. Belmont (13-4, 4-0 OVC) -- Bruins have won six of their past seven games.
  6. Saint Mary’s (14-4, 3-1 WCC) -- Matthew Dellavedova. Buzzer-beater. That’s all.
  7. BYU (14-5, 4-1 WCC) -- Suffered tough loss to Gaels, but thanks for the drama.
  8. Utah State (14-1, 5-0 WAC) -- Somehow, Aggies have quietly won 13 in a row.
  9. Stephen F. Austin (14-1, 5-0 Southland) -- Taylor Smith (15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg) is underrated.
  10. Middle Tennessee State (14-4, 6-1 Sun Belt) -- Blue Raiders have won three in a row.
  11. North Dakota State (15-3, 6-0 Summit) -- Taylor Braun changes everything for Bison.
  12. Akron (12-4, 3-0 MAC) -- Zips have won eight in a row via Zeke Marshall’s D (3.4 bpg).
  13. Murray State (12-4, 3-1 OVC) -- Isaiah Canaan (21.9 ppg) still one of America’s best guards.
  14. Eastern Kentucky (14-3, 4-0 OVC) -- Big battle with Belmont on Thursday night.
  15. Lehigh (15-3, 2-0 Patriot) -- Mountain Hawks won first two league games without C.J. McCollum.
Team of the week: Utah State continues to dominate the WAC. The Aggies (ranked 65th in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy) won their 13th consecutive game this past Friday (66-60 over San Jose State). They’re led by Preston Medlin (16.4 ppg, 39.7 percent from the 3-point line), who is ranked first in the WAC among players with a minimum usage rate of 20 percent (121.3 offensive rating).

Player of the week: Savannah State guard Preston Blackman scored 41 points (8-for-15 from the 3-point line) in a 78-70 double-overtime win at Morgan State on Monday. The senior played 46 minutes, hit all five of his free throw attempts and recorded two steals.

Notes
  • Taylor Braun, North Dakota State’s top scorer (15.2 ppg), was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot earlier this week. The junior could miss up to six weeks. He suffered the injury during a weekend victory over Oakland. It’s a significant development in the Summit League. Braun’s production was critical for a program that’s ranked 45th in adjusted offensive efficiency per Pomeroy. Now, a Western Illinois team with a 6-0 conference record and a South Dakota State squad that’s won three of four since suffering a loss to NDSU in its Summit League opener could move to the top of the standings in the coming weeks.
  • We’ll know more about the Horizon League in the next week. Wright State, No. 1 in the conference with a 4-0 record, travels to Detroit, Valparaiso and Youngstown State for its next three games. Valpo plays Detroit on the road Thursday night.
  • So Matthew Dellavedova nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat BYU 70-69 on Wednesday night? Just more proof that those late-night West Coast Conference matchups on ESPN are worth the sleep deprivation.
  • Surprises? Northeastern on top of the CAA (Towson in second place at 4-1????), Long Beach State’s early surge to the top of the Big West and Bryant’s 4-0 start in the NEC. Disappointments? Illinois State’s 0-6 record in the Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois-Chicago’s 2-3 record in the Horizon League despite nonconference wins over Northwestern and Colorado State, and Canisius, which defeated Temple by 10 on the road last month but is currently riding a 1-3 stretch in the MAAC.
Now that we've gone over the best of the best, here's my take on the top game this weekend involving mid-major teams ...

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