- Graham Hays, espnW.com
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An updated mid-major top-10 rankings, through games as of Tuesday.
1. Delaware (23-3, 14-0 Colonial)
The Blue Hens have yet to lose since a Dec. 20 setback against Maryland, Elena Delle Donne's second game of the season and first back after a month's absence. There are plenty of remarkable numbers when it comes to Delle Donne (seriously, a lot), but one that jumps out is that she has turned over the ball just 17 times in 20 games this season. For all the attention she receives from two and even three defenders, for all the times she has the ball at the end of the shot clock, and given that she's attempted 348 field goals and 127 free throws, 17 turnovers is otherworldly. Home games against James Madison and Drexel and a trip to Hofstra are remaining hurdles.
2. Dayton (22-1, 10-0 Atlantic 10)
Things aren't getting any easier for the Flyers, but they keep winning. The most recent result, a 58-57 win at home against A-10 contender Duquesne is a good example. Dayton won each of its first five conference games by at least 26 points, including games by 39, 43 and 48 points. The five wins that followed came by an average of eight points. Andrea Hoover, who might be the most valuable player on a team whose balance is its greatest asset, came up with 20 points in the win against the Dukes, while freshman Kelley Austria is averaging 12.8 points per game over the past four games. The regular-season finale against Saint Joseph's is the obstacle in the pursuit of A-10 perfection.
3. Green Bay (21-2, 11-0 Horizon)
With five games remaining on its schedule, Green Bay is three games clear of any other Horizon League team, meaning another conference title (the Phoenix have won at least a share of one in every season since 1997-98) is all but a formality. One interesting note in Kevin Borseth's first season back at the helm is the current group is limiting opponents to 35 percent field goal shooting. None of Borseth's earlier teams, which still managed to do quite well for themselves, came anywhere close to a percentage like that (38.5 the best any of them managed). It's not the same defense they played under Matt Bollant, but the players he recruited are still winning because of defense for Borseth.
4. Chattanooga (23-3, 16-1 Southern)
Does the SoCon season ever actually end? The Lady Mocs continue to maintain a good pace in that particular marathon. Limited by fouls in the first half, Ashlen Dewart was unstoppable in the second half of a potentially tricky road trip to College of Charleston over the weekend, putting up 20 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes on the court. She followed that with 24 points and 13 rebounds in a win Monday at Georgia Southern. Maybe it's as simple as having Dewart rolling and fellow post Faith Dupree back, but Chattanooga is shooting noticeably fewer 3-pointers over the past nine games than it did prior to that.
5. Princeton (16-5, 7-0 Ivy)
You might think a weekend when a team wins home games by 12 points and 16 points is pretty good. And in Princeton’s case, it was a successful homestand against Dartmouth and Harvard. But those also represent two of the smaller margins of victory in home conference games in the past four seasons for the Tigers. Such is the level of their domination in the Ivy League. In four games since the last rankings, Niveen Rasheed averaged 20.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game, which helps explain why she has never lost a conference game.
6. Florida Gulf Coast (22-5, 15-0 Atlantic Sun)
This isn't quite the version of Florida Gulf Coast we saw a season ago. This group doesn't shoot the ball as well from the 3-point line or overall and doesn't rebound as well, but tell it to the rest of the Atlantic Sun. The Eagles have yet to win a conference game by anything other than double digits. The next two games are against teams in (distant) second and third places, beginning with a weekend trip to Stetson and a home game next week against Mercer.
7. Gonzaga (22-5, 12-1 West Coast)
All of a sudden, there isn't much of a race in the WCC. The Bulldogs are two games clear of BYU and Saint Mary's with only three left to play in the regular season. They evened the series against Saint Mary's, the only team in the league to beat them, with a 69-54 win at home on Valentine's Day. Gonzaga began the week ranked No. 12 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, joining Green Bay (No. 5), Florida Gulf Coast (No. 8), Princeton (No. 10) and Dayton (No. 19) in the top 20 among the mid-major teams found here.
8. Toledo (22-2, 10-1 MAC)
The Rockets return to the rankings on the strength of 10 consecutive wins since opening MAC play with a loss against Central Michigan. Toledo began the week 15th nationally in scoring defense, behind only Delaware and Green Bay among teams in these rankings. The weekend brings a trip to Central Michigan and a chance to split that series. It's the only game remaining against a team with a winning record (although Ball State is 8-3 in conference play).
9. Marist (19-6, 14-0 MAAC)
Welcome back to the Red Foxes, who recently clinched at least a share of the MAAC title for the 10th season in a row. Marist has picked up its shooting pace a bit in conference play, but it appears unlikely it's ever going to get to 30 percent from the 3-point line. So how does Brian Giorgis' bunch keep dominating the league? Defense. Six opponents in a row have failed to reach 50 points, and Connecticut, Kentucky and Purdue are the only teams to score more than 70 points against Marist this season.
10. Creighton (18-6, 10-3 Missouri Valley)
The Bluejays tumble to No. 10 after a lost road trip two weeks ago, losses incurred at Indiana State and Illinois State, but they salvaged this spot with a win against league leader Wichita State. That result, against a team that dominated Creighton earlier this season, means just one game separates the two in the Valley. In a critical win, sophomore reserve Alexis Akin-Otiko picked a nice time for a breakout performance with 13 points, eight rebounds and big play after big play down the stretch.
Next five: Boston University, Charlotte, San Diego State, Albany, Middle Tennessee State