Beyond the Top 25 - A College Hoops Weekly
by Taylor Jordan - Strike Point Sports - 2/21/2012
With BracketBuster Saturday playing out and establishing the “who’s who” of mid-majors, a lot of the Top 25 movement came this week in the form of the little guys.
Murray State did well to atone for its lone OVC loss by blasting St. Mary’s in the marquee match-up this past weekend. They seem to have solidified their position as a Top 25 (and Field of 68) stalwart.
New Mexico and Temple soared into the national rankings, while San Diego State and UNLV took a trip the wrong way and did not help their rankings with losses this past Saturday.
As for my boys from Wichita State, finally they get some love. The Shockers shot up to 19th after having not been ranked. I guess that’s what happens when you dominate quality opponents for two weeks straight.
Here is a deeper look at those teams in Week 16:
Virginia, 20-6 Straight Up (13-8 Against The Spread)
The Wahoos make the top of this list because they dropped from the bottom of the rankings. Losses in Virginia’s last three road games did them in, as dominant, one-sided results at home couldn’t cancel out poor performances away from Charlottesville. A tough stretch awaits them with a road game at Virginia Tech, then home games against North Carolina and Florida State all in the next 10 days or so.
Creighton, 23-5 (14-10 ATS)
The Blue Jays may have peaked a bit too early in the season. Still, a record of 23-5 is quite all right and Creighton did enough already to secure a Big Dance invite. But with Wichita State now taking the limelight in the MVC, maybe Creighton can hang below the radar and re-create some magic from the nonconference. They earned a big win over Long Beach State on BracketBuster Saturday, and now the Blue Jays host Evansville and then visit Indiana State to wrap up conference play.
Mississippi State, 19-8 (11-15 ATS)
Reality is possibly setting in for the Bulldogs, as Mississippi State did well to play above their heads for most of the season, at least from my perspective. Three straight losses will eject you from the rankings, and their current 1-6 ATS skid isn’t helping the matter either. But, still, hosting Kentucky on Tuesday offers them a chance to knock off the top-ranked team in the nation and get right back into the Top 25.
California, 22-6 (16-10 ATS)
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think there has been a single word about the Pac-12 all season from anyone in college basketball. OK, maybe that is an exaggeration, but the West Coast’s top league has been down this year and so hype has been at a minimum. If any team deserves a little shine, it’s Cal. The Golden Bears have won five in a row and eight of their last 10 to get back into the discussion about a national ranking. They’ll have to earn it now with three straight road games, visiting Utah, Colorado and Stanford.
Gonzaga, 21-5 (11-14-1 ATS)
Mark Few’s team had responded with eight wins in nine tries. Then they took a tough road loss to San Francisco over the weekend. Nonetheless, Gonzaga’s home date with BYU on Thursday will give the ‘Zags an opportunity to grab back some momentum and continue their strong push for March. The regular season WCC title is St. Mary’s, but the Bulldogs can still make a statement in the conference tournament to enhance their NCAA Tournament seeding.
Saint Louis, 22-5 (14-8-1 ATS)
The Billikens just won’t go away. Whenever you think this league’s regular season winner is going to be Temple or maybe Xavier, St. Louis jumps right back into the equation. They’ve rallied off six straight wins (and nine of the last 10). Sitting behind the Owls in the A-10 standings, there is no room for error this late in the conference schedule. A road game at Rhode Island is up next, then they host Xavier before another trip away from home to Duquesne.
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