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 the full 246-team chart (updated hourly), and this is a recording.
As of 1/16/2008, 11 a.m. ETLegend: Rank. Team (Conference), Rating, Record (Conf. Record) [Last week]1. Drake (Missouri Valley), 100.37, 14-1 (5-0) 
If it sounds like a duck and runs like a dog, it must be Drake! The Bulldogs assume the top spot in our index this week, and they showed their depth and poise by beating Missouri State without leading scorer Josh Young, who's out with an ankle injury. Though the team's won 13 straight games, the road to the school's first Valley title since 1971 doesn't get any easier: tough game at Bradley tonight, followed by a Saturday date at home versus...
2. Illinois State (Missouri Valley), 98.521, 13-3 (5-0) 
The Redbirds have won eight straight (and 10 of 11), and are shutting MVC opponents down by allowing 54 points a game, including a league-best 35.1 percent shooting and a forced 15.6 turnovers per. They'll get banged-up Wichita State at home tonight before heading to Des Moines for the big Valley throw/show/hoe-down.
3. Butler (Horizon League), 98.265, 16-1 (5-1) 
Butler is going big, and is on an eight-game streak of its own that stretches back to its lone Horizon loss of the season back on Dec. 8 at Wright State. Recently, the Bulldogs have broken out the Windex for two serious board-thumpings against the two Wisconsin directionals. Versus Green Bay and Milwaukee, they averaged a plus-9 on the glass, and 6-8 freshman Matt Howard has led the team in points the past three contests, averaging 19.3 ppg during that stretch. Wasn't this team supposed to be about guard play?
4. Niagara (Metro Atlantic), 97.182, 11-4 (5-1) 
The Purple Eagles were upended at home 94-84 in the first-place battle with Siena last Friday, but they got healthy again with an 80-63 whoopin' of Manhattan two days later. Niagara is the team in the MAAC, its best free-throw shooting squad, and it features three players averaging more than six rebounds. A long four-game road swing awaits, and the Purps won't have a home game until Feb. 1.
5. Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial), 95.872 11-4 (4-1) 
We already spilled a bunch of words about VCU already in our G!O!T!N! segment, so you know they're playing Delaware tonight, and FOB (Bally) Michael Litos has weighed in with his own fine-grained, decimal-based prediction. And did we mention Eric Maynor enough? Eric Maynor. His average has been dipping a bit in the last few games (to 18.3 ppg), but he's still among the CAA leaders in efficient scoring. Dude averages 21.7 ppg per 40 minutes, fourth-best in the league behind Agudio, Elegar and Jalloh.
6. Saint Joseph's (Atlantic 10), 94.548 9-4 (2-0) 
Do you believe yet? Believe that the Hawk will never die? After blowing open Richmond's methodology on Saturday by outrebounding the Spiders by 18 and underfouling them by 15, the Joes are 2-0. There's a track meet tonight at Charlotte, and a win there could get them enough juice to jump in this here index.
7. Creighton (Missouri Valley), 94.340 13-3 (4-2) 
After an 0-2 start to Valley play, the Bluejays are right back in the thick of the hunt with four straight wins. Three of those have been on the road, and the top frontcourt in the MVC's really been flexing its muscles -- they have not been outrebounded in calendar year 2008. Next Tuesday, CU gets SoTM No. 2 Drake on its home floor to see if everything new in the Valley is really old again, or vice versa.
8. Xavier (Atlantic 10), 93.823, 14-3 (2-0) 
Hello, Xavier Musketeers. I have a gigantic 125-lb. trophy for you, signifying your No. 8 standing in our mid-major index. Where do I send it? Really? OK, I understand, never mind. The X takes to the road for a week after beginning its A-14 journey by blowing out two schools that would never be mistaken for power-conference programs: Saint Bonaventure and Fordham.
9. Sam Houston State (Southland), 93.168, 13-2 (1-1) 
Slide-whistle: wheeeeoooooo. After several weeks at the top, the Bearkats drop... all the way down here. That's what happens when you lose at home, as they did last Wednesday versus Southeastern Louisiana, which at the time was ranked 199th in the overall 341-team index. Our system also gives teams the opportunity to maintain index momentum with dominating wins against lower-ranked teams, so let's see how much the Southland's general lack of strength hurts SHSU.
10. Saint Mary's (West Coast), 92.692, 14-2 (1-0) 
The thing about West Coast teams is that the play so dang late. Why don't they play earlier so us entitled East coasters can watch them? Waah, waah, just kidding. Patty Mills and the Gaels -- remember them? -- served notice with a WCC-opening 76-45 thrashing of fellow Bay Area residents Santa Clara, and hae only lost to SIU and Texas all season. We'll be at the LMU game.
The next 10:
11. Siena (Metro Atlantic) 92.624 ; 12. South Alabama (Sun Belt) 91.854 ; 13. Nevada (Western Athletic) 91.450 ; 14. James Madison (Colonial) 90.844 ; 15. Central Michigan (Mid-American) 89.962 ; 16. Ohio (Mid-American) 88.826 [--]; 17. Massachusetts (Atlantic 10) 88.204 ; 18. Texas-Arlington (Southland) 87.830 ; 19. Miami (Oh.) (Mid-American) 87.705 [--]; 20. Valparaiso (Horizon League) 87.497 .
Out of the Top 20:
Boise State, Holy Cross.
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