The State of College Basketball is a new-ish ratings system that uses a lot of good basketball sense, per-game team performance ratings and degradation of older results to rank the teams from No. 1 to 344 (here's the long-winded version). In its overall form, it retroactively picked three of the Final Four in a simulation of 2006-07, did okay as a predictor last season, and enters 2008-09 ready for more. For our purposes here, it gives the world's only hype-free, non-voting, computer poll of teams in the lower 22 and a half (we include the A-14) conferences. This is the full chart, and this is a recording.
(Horizon League), 113.649, 12-1 (3-0)
The Bulldogs remain the most dangerous team this level contains, staying above the fray in an increasingly fractious and unpredictable Horizon. Last Saturday, Butler bludgeoned
Valpo with a +8 shooting margin and a +10 advantage on the boards. Wright State, which skewered Cleveland State last week in a G!O!T!N!, will be a stiff Thursday test before a comfortable home win against 4-9 Detroit, but the rest of the league is as difficult to read as a minefield.
(Atlantic 10), 110.427, 11-2 (0-0)
I was looking for a "What's Wrong With Xavier" article or blog post to link to -- you know, for "color" -- but there are too many of them out there to muddle through. Hopefully the conventional wisdom convention has moved on to something else, as the X has recovered from holiday losses to Duke and Butler to pummel Virginia
for the second straight year -- on the road this time. It was just their second
complete performance of the year (TMM-defined as outshooting, outrebounding, underturnovering and underfouling), which seems an indication that Musketeerland is ready for the A-14 grind. Rhode Island is a week away.
3. Saint Mary's
(West Coast), 102.860, 12-1 (0-0)
Only a six-point win
over Cal State Bakersfield since our last chat of this kind, a sleepwalk in which the Gaels let their rebounding do the talking. Three (count 'em) SMC players had double-doubles, as if mid-majordom needed any more warning about a Samhan
front line that's easily the best out of this entire list. Aussie sophomore Patty Mills
(team-leading 19.9 ppg, not one of the three double-doublers) is pretty good too, and he's the one who takes most of the interviews.
4. Utah State
(Western Athletic), 98.704, 13-1 (1-0)
It's time to get on the USU hype train, people -- if the most efficient offense in the entire country (1.183 points per possession) doesn't get you excited, perhaps it's time for you to follow college rodeo instead. Our pay-per-view blog over at ESPN makes use of the fact that the Aggies are one of the best ball control teams around, and oh yeah
there's a 6-9 dude
who's on the Naismith watch list. A weekend LaTech-New Mexico State road trip awaits.
(Southern), 97.409, 10-2 (3-0)
Nobody's taken me up on my challenge so far: a lifetime Basketball State subscription in return for a Stephen Curry YouTube highlight reel set to Queen's "Flash."
In the meantime, you'll just have to imagine it. Awesome
(Atlantic 10), 93.970, 14-1 (0-0)
The Flyers gutted out a 45-40 win
over Miami (Oh.) last night in the G!O!T!N!, one of those UFC cage-matches that the RedHawks love so much. Here's the biggest takeaway from that victory: Dayton has now shown the ability to win at any speed, in any gear. Whether it's a high-possession shootout like the one against Marquette
, a mid-tempo battle such as the George Mason win last week
, or a low-speed slog, the Flyers don't care. They win, win, win. Will this make a difference in March? You bet your Dr. Willie Morris airplane hat.
7. Illinois State
(Missouri Valley), 93.644, 14-1 (3-1)
OK, mea culpa! No mas! Illinois State is as real as real can be, four-point Tuesday road loss to Bradley
notwithstanding (imagine if they'd been given more than four free throws). Osiris Eldridge
and Co. destroyed both Evansville
in successive G!O!T!N! contests, and have a relatively easy weekend assignment at 3-11 Indiana State in the ISU-off. The question remains: why the F* did this team schedule for the CBI when an at-large bid was most certainly in reach?* Fredbird
(Metro Atlantic), 91.214, 10-5 (4-0)
The Saints' five-game win streak was snapped at Kansas
last night, but there's little shame in losing to the national champs by seven... especially in the face of warm, yummy Cracker Barrel-style home cooking from local refs (nine fewer fouls on the Jayhawks). The key is that Siena has recovered from its November televised disasters and is shooting the ball well and finding ways to get rebounds. An home ESPNU date with Rider gets the MAAC action going again on Friday.
(Atlantic 10), 90.192, 6-6 (0-0)
The Owls lost at Kansas
too, back on Dec. 20, the hangover game from their skull-crusher against Tennessee. Temple is definitely riding that mojo here in the index, because the team lost five of seven before knocking off Kent State
on Monday. Dionte Christmas
scores 20 ppg but shoots 41 percent, the kind of optical illusion one might expect from a team that makes good teams look bad and bad teams look good. If TU struggles in conference play, the Selection Committee may want to exempt all its results from consideration... just for clarity's sake.
10. Cleveland State
(Horizon League), 90.020, 11-5 (2-2)
Do you like defense? Forced turnovers? The Vikings are the team for you. Only seven teams nationally create coughups more efficiently, as CSU owns a 26 percent opponent's turnover rate. The offensive cracks are showing though -- in four games of HL play, Cleveland State has shot just 37 percent. If J'Nathan Bullock
(14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) doesn't start getting some help, this could devolve into Southern Illinois East in a hurry.The Next 12:
(Metro Atlantic), 89.739; 12. Miami (Oh.)
(Mid-American), 88.894; 13. Rhode Island
(Atlantic 10), 88.412; 14. Creighton
(Missouri Valley), 88.191; 15. Portland State
(Big Sky), 87.375; 16. George Mason
(Colonial), 87.164; 17. Bradley
(Missouri Valley), 82.619; 18. Drake
(Missouri Valley), 82.301; 19. Buffalo
(Mid-American), 82.016; 20. North Dakota State
(Summit League), 81.934; 21. Virginia Military Institute
(Big South), 81.805; 22. Wisconsin-Green Bay
(Horizon League), 81.410.