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 12/18/2007, 1 p.m. ETLegend: Rank. Team Rating (Conference), Rating, Record (Conf. Record) [Last week]1. Sam Houston State (Southland), 106.78, 9-0 (0-0) 
The Bearkats are No. 1 for the second straight week because they're a.) undefeated and b.) good. I know nobody's keeping track of the actual index numbers, but Sam State's rating slipped four points, mostly because of an efficient but too-close 54-51 win over Texas Southern, but no other team distinguished themselves enough during Finals Week to overtake them in this index.
2. Butler (Horizon), 104.06, 9-1 (1-1) 
When this team's guards are hot, nobody can beat them. Not even ACC teams! The Bulldogs recovered from their loss to Wright State with a convincing wire-to-wire victory over Florida State at Conseco Fieldhouse, and did so with a combined 45 points from A.J. Graves and Mike Green. It was the end of extended shooting slumps for both, and the return of Maalox bottles to thousands of medicine cabinets all over central Indiana.
3. Xavier (Atlantic 10), 103.95, 8-2 (0-0) 
Perhaps the Musketeers were just too emotionally drained after its nationally-televised city game win over Cincinnati, but it got thump-wacked by Arizona State on Saturday. Like, by 22. They shed four ratings points and switched spots with Butler because of it, but as like with Sam State, no other mids were really lighting the world on fire enough to step past them.
4. South Alabama (Sun Belt), 102.73, 7-3 (0-0) 
The Jaguars hold tight at the four-spot because, basically, they've been playing like an honorary SEC team. Beat Mississippi State over the weekend, lost by only three against Ole Miss, forced Vandy to double-OT. Because close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and The State Of The Other 22. What, nobody's talking about Team USA in the national media? Fine, alright, I'll do it.
5. Siena (Metro Atlantic), 101.08, 5-3 (2-0) 
One word: idle. Last played on Dec. 9, will test their legs again on Saturday at No. 12 Holy Cross (which hasn't been in action since Dec. 4). Walk, don't run to see walk versus run -- if the two teams remember who they are, it will be a matchup of Holy Cross' immovable defensive objects against Siena's fast-paced, athletic attack.
6. Drake (MVC), 99.693, 9-1 (0-0) 
The Bulldogs finally got a big bone on Friday night, toppling Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye for its first win at that particular school in 20 tries. There might be more big fun to come for a team that grabs 61 percent of available rebounds (ninth-best in D-I) and features sophomore shooter Josh Young, who leads the Valley in scoring (17.4 ppg) and is generally good at basketball. That's eight straight for a school that's been short on winning seasons, and is reverse-celebrating the 10th anniversary of an epic 20-game season-closing losing streak. Funny, they aren't wearing jersey patches for that.
7. Saint Joseph's (Atlantic 10), 99.605, 4-4 (0-0) 
The Hawks haven't put up the gaudy win totals of their A-14 brethren, and are riding a two-game losing streak (though they played Creighton exactly even), but this will be a squad to be reckoned with once league play starts. There are four double-figure scorers, they block a lot of shots (5.5 bpg), and haven't lost a game by more than six points. The perimeter defense is still a concern, however, which will hurt them against teams like Rhode Island if the leaks aren't plugged in time.
8. Saint Mary's (West Coast), 98.327, 7-1 (0-0) 
The Gaels have nine days to absorb their tough road drop at Southern Illinois last Tuesday, and the power trio of Patty Mills, Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan won't see action again until Thursday, when they face Tulane. In the interim, they've slipped three spaces since losing their first game of the year.
9. Creighton (MVC), 97.881, 7-1 (0-0) 
Speaking of Southern Illinois, with the Salukis shooting the lights on with its 4-4 record despite stingy defense, it's time to start talking about Creighton more. It's time to start talking about P'Allen Stinnett for freshman of the year for giving Dana Altman the outside scoring threat folks didn't think he'd have this year, and it's time to discuss the Bluejay defense, which is forcing a staggering 20.7 turnovers a game. That, FYI, is more than SIU.
10. Miami (Oh.) (MAC), 96.468, 4-4 (0-0) 
The Redhawks lost to Wright State in its only game this week, but the computer hasn't given up on Charlie's crew. And fans shouldn't either. This is still one of the most surehanded teams in the country, and the ascent of Michael Bramos into the league's elite ahs been stunning. Not that any of these losses will matter in March, either -- thanks to another sub-.500 nonconference record and league RPI in the teens, we know exactly how many bids the MAC is getting. Again.
The next 10:
11. Nevada (WAC) 96.171 ; 12. Holy Cross (Patriot) 96.135 ; 13. Texas-Arlington (Southland) 96.016 ; 14. Central Michigan (MAC) 95.879 [re-entry]; 15. Virginia Commonwealth (CAA) 95.653 ; 16. Northeastern (CAA) 95.593 ; 17. North Texas (Sun Belt) 94.817 ; 18. Valparaiso (Horizon) 94.288 ; 19. Illinois State (MVC) 93.168; 20. Montana (Big Sky) 92.823 .
Out of the Top 20: