Thursday, December 29, 2011
Conference USA joins Big Ten in top 10
By Evan Kaplan
No conference made a big leap in ESPN Stats and Info’s weekly college basketball power rankings, but Conference USA regained its spot in the top 10, while the Big Ten continues to dominate the rankings.
For a complete recap of how we rank the conferences, click here and here.
After giving up the number-10 spot to the West Coast Conference in last week’s power rankings, Conference USA bounced back this week, increasing its final rating by 12 points. Rice had the biggest win for the conference last week, beating Texas A&M in College Station.
Southern Miss sits atop the conference at 11-2, and has beaten Ole Miss, Arizona State and South Florida (all Big Six conference teams) in the past two weeks.
The Big Ten extended its lead at the top of the rankings, and now has the second-most human bonus, only trailing the Big East. When the ESPN/USA Today and AP human polls came out on Monday, the Big Ten had five teams in the top 18, tied with the Big East for the most in the nation.
The Big East had its human bonus decrease nearly two full points from 20.8 to 19.3 this week, largely because of Pittsburgh’s struggles. The Panthers lost a non-conference game at home to Wagner last week, and are clinging to their number-22 ranking after losing to Notre Dame in their Big East opener on Tuesday.
However, the Big East will have its chance against another Big Six conference in the next three days, with three games against the SEC. Marquette hosts Vanderbilt and Rutgers is home to Florida (both Thursday night), and then the conference faces a big road test on Saturday when Louisville visits Rupp Arena to play Kentucky.
Last week’s big mover, the Summit League, dropped one spot from 12 to 13 this week.