Thursday, February 28, 2013
Mid-Major Report: Power Rankings
By Myron Medcalf
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 teams from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West.
A 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.
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: Week 10
Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC). Future NBA big man Kelly Olynyk has led the Zags to the top of the WCC.
Middle Tennessee (25-4, 17-1 Sun Belt). The Blue Raiders have defeated their past two opponents by 35 points and 41 points, respectively.
Akron (23-4, 13-0 MAC). The Zips cracked the latest coaches’ poll. They haven’t lost since Dec. 15.
Saint Mary’s (25-5, 13-2 WCC). Saturday’s win over Creighton enhanced the Gaels’ at-large profile.
Belmont (23-6, 13-2 Ohio Valley). The Bruins’ three-game winning streak includes a lopsided win over Ohio last weekend.
Bucknell (24-5, 11-2 Patriot League). The Bison sealed the Patriot League regular-season crown with their three-game winning streak.
Creighton (23-7, 12-5 MVC). Wednesday night's victory over Bradley sets up a huge showdown with Wichita State on Saturday.
Wichita State (24-6, 12-5 MVC). Shockers can secure a No. 1 seed in the MVC tourney with a win over Creighton.
Louisiana Tech (24-3, 14-0 WAC). The Bulldogs, who haven’t lost since Dec. 12, earned the No. 25 slot in the latest AP poll.
Stephen F. Austin (23-3, 13-2 Southland). The Lumberjacks control the Southland but they’ll need a league tourney title to get an NCAA bid.
Valparaiso (23-7, 12-3 Horizon). The Crusaders are a game ahead of Detroit with one regular-season contest to play.
Davidson (22-7, 16-1 Southern). The Wildcats have won 13 in a row and they defeated Montana in overtime on Saturday.
Stony Brook (21-6, 12-2 America East). The Seawolves have four players who are averaging at least 8.8 points per game.
BYU (20-9, 9-5 WCC). The Cougars have lost three of their past five games.
Ohio (20-8, 11-2 MAC). The Bobcats have lost two in a row, including a heartbreaker in overtime against Akron Wednesday night.
Team of the Week: Prior to its recent success, Evansville had lost four of its past five games. But the Aces have finished strong. They won their third consecutive game 59-56 Wednesday night at Wichita State. The victory also ensures they’ll end the regular season with a .500 record (or better) in conference play. That’s a solid turnaround for this program.
Player of the Week: Delaware’s Devon Saddler, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, has led the Fightin’ Blue Hens to a top-three finish in the CAA with his efforts in their past three games, all close contests. Last week, he scored 31 points in a 73-71 double-overtime win against Drexel. He followed that performance with 24 points (10-for-20 from the field) in a 79-78 win at UNC-Wilmington on Saturday. And Wednesday night, he scored 19 points in a 57-56 victory at Hofstra.
Montana’s Big Sky tourney plans may have changed with recent injuries to top contributors Mathias Ward and Will Cherry. Cherry re-injured the foot he broke prior to the start of the season in last weekend’s BracketBusters loss to Davidson. And Ward suffered a sprained arch in his left foot in a win over Idaho State during the previous weekend. Both could be unavailable or limited in the postseason.
North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun, the program’s top scorer, was rusty Tuesday night, going 0-for-4 in 18 minutes of a 63-56 win over Utah Valley State. It was his first game back after missing 10 games with a foot injury. The Bison are a game behind South Dakota State for first place in the Summit League. If the Jackrabbits get past Omaha-Nebraska on Thursday night, they’ll win the league title. But North Dakota State, with the conference’s best defensive unit (34th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy) could be the favorite to win the conference tourney now that Braun has returned.
Dan Monson has done it again. Long Beach State (13-2 in conference play) is in command of the Big West with three games to play (Pacific is 3.5 games behind the 49ers). This team is not as fluid as last season's veteran crew. But with transfers Keala King (Arizona State) and James Ennis (17.1 ppg), the 49ers are certainly skilled as they prepare for another run at the Big West tournament title and the league’s automatic bid.