The State of College Basketball is a brand-new 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 341 (here's the long-winded version). In its overall form, it retroactively picked three of the Final Four in a simulation of last season. For our purposes here, it gives the world's only hype-free, non-voting, computer poll of teams in the lower 22 conferences. This is a recording.
As of 12/11/2007, 2 p.m. ETLegend: Rank. Team Rating (Conference), Rating, Record (Conf. Record) [Last week]1. Sam Houston State (Southland), 110.85, 8-0 (0-0) 
The Bearkats take the top spot this week because the computer loves great road performances, and dayum was that a great one on Saturday afternoon at Saint Louis. Sure, the Billikens are having a sort-out year to begin the Majerus era, but they've won six games to date and shouldn't be held to just 29 percent shooting on its home floor. And, ooooh, look! Hype!
2. Xavier (Atlantic 10) 109.45 7-1 (0-0) 
Never mind the blah-blah-blah about Rhode Island (No. 28), the X is still the best team in the Atlantic 14. Six straight wins, and a convincing G!O!T!N! victory over a good Creighton team last Wednesday, 79-66. You can watch the Musketeers take control of the city of Cincinnati tomorrow on ESPN2.
3. Butler (Horizon) 105.14 8-1 (1-1) 
Not a good week for the Bulldogs. Their guard play disappeared sometime between the Ohio State game and the league opener against Detroit last Thursday, and hasn't returned. Butler did eke out a victory against the Titans, but was wholly and completely denied by I-70 rival Wright State on Saturday in a 43-42 loss. A nonconference tilt at Conseco with Florida State, a replay of a good NIT game two years ago, awaits.
4. South Alabama (Sun Belt) 101.40 6-3 (0-0) 
Anybody talking about Team USA yet? Didn't think so. Three losses, but they've come by an average of three points -- two to SEC teams, and a five point drop to soon-to-be-mentioned Miami (Oh.). Do not let this team out to an early lead, because it won't lose it -- in each of the five D-I wins, the Jaguars have established control early, and led virtually wire-to-wire. The computer likes that kind of stuff. In related news, Ronnie Arrow apparently took all the good mojo with him when he left Corpus Christi... TAMCC is 1-5.
5. Saint Mary's (WCC) 101.40 7-0 (0-0) 
The Gaels rocket into the Top 10 thanks to their masterful performance at the Wooden Classic last weekend, at which they played nip-and-tuck with San Diego State and pulled away in the final minutes. With Davidson and Southern Illinois and Butler slipping a bit, this might end up being the surprise bandwagon mid team of the year. If you've caught the bug, go get yourself tons of Gael gear featuring that lovely new logo.
6. Siena (Metro Atlantic) 101.08 5-3 (2-0) 
Since we last talked, the Saints opened their conference schedule strong, beating Fairfield on the road and taking out Iona at home. The only 2-0 team in the MAAC is likely the league's best hope for an NCAA upset, unless Loyola can get off the floor -- the Greyhounds are 5-5 overall and haven't quite gelled. Next up is No. 12 Holy Cross in a week and a half... it's unfair that we have to wait that long.
7. Drake (MVC) 99.938 8-1 (0-0) 
The Bulldogs do lead the world in preseason tournaments, and they've been blowing out the opposition in them -- last week's combined 58-point victory margin on Chicago State and UTPA keeps them holding on to Top 10 status here, although it's slipping. Friday, they'll get the in-state 6-5 Iowa Hawkeyes, who they beat last year. I think they might have a chance in that one.
8. Saint Joseph's (Atlantic 10) 99.605 4-4 (0-0) 
The Hawks lost two close games to Holy Cross and Creighton (in OT) in the past week, but they've performed well enough to stick around in the Top 10. Ball control, interior defense, and efficient offense is more important here than with the "oh, they lost, dump 'em" mentality of the popularity contests. This team will win a lot of A-14 games, just you watch.
9. North Texas (Sun Belt) 98.833 6-2 (0-0) 
Excuse me if I say that UNT is a joy to watch. Sure, people use that as a throwaway time-filler statement, but watching the runnin', gunnin', generally undersized Green makes me so happy that I just want to go out and shoot some hoops. The computer disagrees slightly, giving this team a downward bump for a gutty 88-72 loss at Texas, followed by a whopping points-dock for letting Hartford play them too close in a 105-97 Super Pit showdown. Saying "Super Pit" is a joy too.
10. Miami (Oh.) (MAC) 98.684 4-3 (0-0) 
The Redhawks are off for finals and have been idle for much of the last week. But the night of our last update, Miami's cagers gave Indiana State, and the rest of us, something to remember them by. Charlie's Crew shot 55 percent, had four in double figures, and buzzsawed the Trees 74-58. Saturday is Wright State, which will be a tough, bitter, awesome game.
The next 10:
11. Creighton (MVC) 97.881 ; 12. Virginia Commonwealth (CAA) 97.763 ; 13. Texas-Arlington (Southland) 97.708 ; 14. Holy Cross (Patriot) 96.135 [--]; 15. Northeastern (CAA) 95.593 [--]; 16. Montana (Big Sky) 94.847 ; 17. Illinois State (MVC) 94.286 ; 18. Massachusetts (A-10) 94.182 [--]; 19. Valparaiso (Horizon) 93.795 [--]; 20. Nevada (WAC) 92.995 [--].
Out of the Top 20:
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, South Dakota State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Boise State.
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