- MVC Beat
Week 12 Summary, Updated Power Rankings, Mid Major Tidbits
After weeks of waiting, we finally got our Drake-Loyola showdown this weekend. The results are in, and we are no closer to determining an MVC champion. The Ramblers and Bulldogs played to a split in Des Moines and remain tied in the loss column although Loyola has the inside track for the 1-seed at Arch Madness due to their superior NET ranking. The top seed has less relevance now that the NIT has determined that they are going to play a 16-team event in New York City but will not be giving automatic bids. Elsewhere in the Valley, MSU And ISU Blue locked up play-in game avoidance, and the Purple Aces are attempting to remain above the fray. The 6-seed is wide open and all five teams at the bottom of the standings still have a shot (although ISU Red is hanging by a thread). Spoiler alert….the results of this week warranted no change in the ranking order so there was no change in the ranking order.
Week 12: MVC Power Rankings
1.) #22 Loyola, 18-4, 13-2, NET 10, BPI 15 (No Change): Despite only managing a split in Des Moines, Loyola’s NCAA Tournament chances appear to be virtually unchanged from last week. Their NET (10) and BPI (15) both actually improved, and they barely moved from an 8-seed to a 9-seed in bracketology. Loyola also retained their 22nd rating in both the AP and Coaches polls. It is starting to look like only an end-of-year collapse (or the event getting cancelled) will keep the Ramblers from playing in the NCAA Tournament. On the aggregate Loyola certainly looked like the better team against the shorthanded Bulldogs, but Drake was able to muddy up the waters and Loyola’s collective sphincters seemed to tighten at the end in the second game. The Ramblers got off to an excellent start to the weekend with a dominant 81-54 win over Drake on Saturday. LUC put on a show for the national audience watching on ESPN2. The first half played out like you would expect a slugfest between the league’s two top teams might. The teams went back and forth throughout the first frame with Drake holding a 34-31 halftime edge. But Loyola took the game over immediately starting in the second. With Drake’s star Tank Hemphill out with injury and post player Darnell Brodie in foul trouble, center Cameron Krutwig and forward Aher Uguak feasted early in the second half. They went on an immediate 18-2 run to take over the game in the first five minutes of the second half. Drake never even made it interesting after that. The Ramblers ended up outscoring Drake 50-20 in the half. Loyola shot 63.8% in the win, with Aher Uguak leading the way with 20 points and Cameron Krutwig notching a double-double with exactly 10 and 10. It was a different story on Sunday, when the two teams played a classic MVC wrestling match. The Ramblers had a chance to put the MVC title more-or-less on ice. Instead, they battled to a 51-50 overtime loss. The game was a slow burn, with Loyola holding a 23-14 lead with five minutes to go in the first half, only to be outscored 8-2 over the final minutes to see their lead drop to three. The Ramblers continued to lead in the second half, although Drake kept it close. With 7:44 to go, a Cameron Krutwig free throw put the Ramblers up ten, 42-32. Loyola would only score three points over the remainder of regulation and just one after the last TV timeout. After missing a chance to win it in regulation, the game went to OT with the score tied 45-45. An and-one by Marquise Kennedy gave Loyola a 48-47 lead with 3:09 in OT, but it was the only basket from the field the Ramblers would make in the bonus frame. Trailing 51-50 with one minute to go, Loyola had six opportunities to score on their final two possessions but weren’t able to convert. Drake won 51-50 to keep the title competitive. The Ramblers’ top performer was Cameron Krutwig who scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for a double-double. A Wednesday scuffle with Valparaiso is the only contest on the Ramblers’ plate this week.
2.) Drake, 20-2, 11-2, NET 35, BPI 60 (No Change): It was a rough week for Drake in many ways, but the Bulldogs survived it with their NCAA hopes still barely intact. They opened with a blowout win over their in-state rivals UNI, but it was costly. Drake lost their leading scorer and team leader Tank Hemphill, likely for the season, due to a broken foot suffered in the contest. Faced with the challenge of finding a way to win the biggest games of the year without their star and only two days prep, Drake got blown out in their first game against Loyola. But they rebounded for the gutsiest win this author has seen in awhile in game two in OT. Drake remains tied for the MVC lead in the loss column with Loyola with five games to play. They are also now squarely on the bubble and might need to win out to feel good about their NCAA chances with a NET of 35 and a BPI of 60 (both down three from this time last week). They fell only one spot in bracketology from sixth-to-last to fifth-to-last team in. The Bulldogs are sitting squarely on the bubble. Before they could focus on their big series with Loyola Drake had to get past in-state rival Northern Iowa at home in a midweek game. And get past them they very much did. Drake had little issue with the struggling Panthers in an 80-59 win. The game was close and low scoring in the early going, but the Bulldog offense busted out in the latter part of the half while UNI continued to struggle. After falling behind 12-10 at the 13:10 mark, Drake opened up a 22-14 lead six minutes later and then scored on nine of their last eleven possessions to take a 41-29 lead into halftime. Drake increased the lead to 16, 48-32, early in the second half before UNI was able to get it within seven a few minutes later. Drake answered with a 13-3 run and UNI never seriously challenged after that. The Bulldogs’ two 18-point scorers were Tremell Murphy and Joseph Yesufu who did his work off the bench. The game took a severe toll on DU, though, with the Tank Hemphill injury. He will be out for at least a month, most likely ending his season. He would miss the huge series with Loyola. His absence was felt in game one, which was dominated by LUC. The game was the back-and-forth affair folks expected for the first 20 minutes which ended with the Bulldogs on top, 34-31. The wheels came off in the second half. Darnell Brodie found himself in foul trouble and without him or Hemphill the Bulldogs struggled to contain Loyola forward Aher Uguak and center Cameron Krutwig. The Ramblers went on an 18-2 run to open the half and it only got worse from there for Drake. They were outscored 50-20 in the second half in an 81-54 loss. Darnell Brodie’s 12 points led Drake despite his only playing 19 minutes and fouling out. In a remarkable turnaround, though, Drake kept hold of their conference title and NCAA aspirations in game two with an incredibly gutsy 51-50 overtime win. After taking a quick 6-0 lead, Drake didn’t score for the next five minutes. This would be a theme. They went on another four-minute drought to fall behind by nine but clawed to within three at halftime. The Bulldogs never led during the second half, at one point falling behind by ten, 42-32 with 7:44 remaining. From that point forward Drake clamped down on the defense. Loyola would only make two baskets from the field and score eight points over the final 7+ minutes and OT. Roman Penn tied the game with a layup with 1:26 to go, and DU buckled down to keep Loyola from scoring again in regulation as the game went to OT. Darnell Brodie’s basket with 2:04 to go gave Drake a 51-48 lead that was trimmed to 51-50 by two Loyola free throws seconds later. Drake’s last two offensive possessions resulted in shot clock violations while Loyola was able to get two offensive rebounds on each of their final two possessions. But somehow, some way, Drake kept them off the board to hang on for the win. Once lauded for their depth, Drake only played seven guys in this one and all five starters played at least 36 minutes. Tremell Murphy led the way with 17 points. The Dogs still have a long road ahead without Tank Hemphill, and they face winnable but tricky matchups this week. They are at UNI midweek before hosting a pair against Evansville on Sunday and Monday. They probably need to go 3-0 to stay in the NCAA picture.
3.) Missouri State, 14-5, 10-5, NET 87, BPI 124 (No Change): They are no longer in the conference title race, but Missouri State continues to truck along as the clear third best team in the MVC. They wrapped up their home schedule with three easy wins against Southern Illinois and Bradley this week to inch closer to the three seed in the MVC Tournament, although with a BPI of 87 and a NET of 124 (both well up from last week) they likely won’t be considered for the 16-team NIT. Regardless, the Bears are still having an outstanding year. Ttey started the week with a home game Wednesday against Southern Illinois who played their seventh consecutive game without Marcus Domask. The Salukis hung in there for much of the game, but MSU was ultimately too much in a 65-53 Bears win. The game was close and ugly early, and at one point there was a stretch of five game minutes where neither team scored. At halftime the Bears led 24-21. By ten minutes into the second half, MSU had opened up a 42-32 lead, but SIU went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 42-39 with 10:47 to go. The Bears controlled the game from that point on, outscoring SIU 23-14 to finish the game with a W. Keaton Hervey led MSU in scoring with 18, while Mosley (12 and 8) and Prim (10 and 5) were kept mostly in check. Next, the Bears stayed home to take on Bradley for a pair over the weekend, and were handed a bit of a gift as the Braves suspended four key players for the series. MSU absolutely dominated game one, scoring early and often in an 80-58 victory. After falling behind 9-2 early, MSU absolutely went on a tear, going on a 17-0 run to take a ten-point lead. After BU cut the lead to six, MSU went on a 15-2 run to take a nineteen-point lead. The game was never competitive from that point forward. MSU held a twenty-point halftime lead and cruised to the 22-point win. It was Jamonta Black who scored 24 points for MSU, while Gaige Prim added 20 and Isiaih Mosley was held to just four. On Sunday, MSU cruised to another win against Bradley by a score of 72-57. The shorthanded Braves held the lead as late as the 7:18 mark in the first half, but the Bears took control from there. They went on a 17-5 run to end the half with a 10-point lead and Bradley never got within single digits in the second half for a businesslike Missouri State win. Isiaih Mosley (27 points) and Gaige Prim (20 points, 8 rebounds) regained star status for this one. MSU is now 10-1 in MVC games against the seven teams below them in the standings. A Wednesday matchup at Southern Illinois is their only contest this week.
4.) Indiana State, 12-8, 9-6, NET 121, BPI 162 (No Change): The Sycamores have had very little trouble playing out their schedule this year, and that led to just one game on the schedule this weekend at Evansville on Sunday. Indiana State got the win, their eighth in nine games, and clinched a top six finish in the process (with three games to spare). Not bad for a team that started the season 1-5 in league play. It is looking likely that ISU Blue will be the 4-seed at Arch Madness. The game at the Ford Center started off competitive. Evansville and Indiana State took turns holding the lead in the first half, with ISU clinging to a 37-35 halftime advanage. After the half it was all Sycamores, though. After UE battled back to tie it at 39 early in the half, ISU went on a 21-8 run over the next eight minutes to effectively put the game away. Evansville made it kind of interesting in the final couple minutes, but never seriously challenged the Sycamores for the W as the Trees won 76-70. Tyreke Key (29 points) and Jake LaRavia (20 points) combined for nearly two thirds of ISU’s production. A Wednesday game at home against Evansville is the only contest on Indiana State’s schedule this week.
5.) Evansville, 8-11, 6-7, NET 232, BPI 267 (No Change): The Purple Aces had only one game last week, at home against Indiana State. It was the Aces’ chance to put some separation between themselves and the bottom half of the league, but they were not able to capitalize on it. In a game I literally just described seconds ago in the ISU summary, Evansville lost at home to the Sycamores 76-70. The first half was competitive, as Evansville led for large chunks but trailed 37-35 at the break. After tying the game at 39 with just over 16 minutes to play in the second frame, UE struggled for a long stretch. The result was a 60-47 deficit with under eight minutes to go. While UE battled back to get as close as four at one point, they never seriously challenged ISU from then on. Four Aces scored in double figures, with Jawaun Newton putting in the best performance with 14 points and 7 rebounds. It was the Aces sixth loss in eight games and while UE still has an edge on the teams below them in the standings at 6-7, they have some work to do to sew up that spot in the top six. Evansville has a tricky week in front of them as they hit the road to play Indiana State on Wednesday and Drake on Sunday and Monday. Just one win out of those three games would be huge for the Aces and their chances at finishing in the top six.
6.) Valparaiso, 8-12, 5-8, NET 238, BPI 252 (No Change): The biggest news of the week for VU was the announcement that they are retiring the Crusaders name. I know many people feel passionately about it, but it is kind of a non-story for me personally. I always thought “Crusaders” was an odd choice for a Christian school, as I don’t think the Crusades are a particularly proud moment in world history. Nevertheless, I think it is a great opportunity for Valpo to think of a very cool, unique name and maybe even change their colors to something other than the color of poo and pee. A nice paint job could do wonders for that ARC and how it looks on TV. On the court, it wasn’t a great week for Valpo, but they retained a spot in the top six. They control their own destiny when it comes to play-in avoidance. The other teams in the running for sixth, other than SIU, cannot say that. The week did not get off to a good start as VU got blown out by Bradley, 76-52, in their last game under the name Crusaders. Had they won, VU would have really been in good shape for a top-six spot. BU got off to a 17-5 advantage five minutes into the game, but Valpo came back to get within one two minutes later and briefly took a 21-20 lead about ten minutes into the half. They didn’t score again for over six game minutes, and Bradley took a 37-30 lead into halftime. The second half was all BU as the Braves outscored Valpo 39-22. Bradley extended the lead to 49-32 before the first TV timeout of the second half and never looked back as VU never got within single digits again. Donovan Clay’s 17 points led Valpo. Despite the setback, Valpo recovered for an important win at UNI on Saturday night. VU hardly had to break a sweat as they jumped out to a 26-11 lead in the first half and led by double-digits (with one short exception) for the remainder of the game, keeping UNI at bay with timely baskets and timely defense. They ended up winning 70-57 despite not scoring for the final six minutes. Ben Krikke and Jake Ognacevic led the businesslike Valpo effort with 12 points each as VU shot 46% from deep. The second game didn’t go as well for Valpo. After a close, back-and-forth early part of the first half, UNI pulled away late for a 39-33 lead at the break. The Panthers retained a multiple possession lead for most of the second half, and went on a 10-0 run to take a 17-point lead about midway through the second stanza. While Valpo did hold UNI to their standard end-of-game drought (UNI went scoreless for five minutes late in the half), VU could not take advantage and could get no closer than eight. Ben Krikke’s 12 points led Valpo. VU will spend the week on the road with a game at Loyola on Wednesday before a series at Southern Illinois on Sunday and Monday.
7.) Southern Illinois, 10-9, 4-9, NET 221, BPI 251 (No Change): Marcus Domask was absent again this week as SIU went 1-2 against Missouri State and Illinois State. With fewer wins than VU, BU, and UNI and two games still to play at Loyola to end the year, it is looking more and more likely the Salukis might find themselves playing on Thursday at Arch Madness. On the flip side, they have fewer losses than all the other teams in the race except Valpo, and technically still control their own destiny for play-in avoidance. If Domask can return for the final games of the season there is still a chance for SIU. But even if they don’t get it done, with Domask in tow they would be one heck of a play-in team. The Salukis struggled to a 65-53 loss at Missouri State in their midweek tilt. Both teams struggled for most of the first half (there was a five-minute stretch where neither team scored) as MSU led 24-21 at the break. After halftime SIU continued to struggle while the Bears showed signs of life. MSU built a ten-point lead with 13 minutes left. SIU made their last push, going on a 7-0 run to get within three, but would never get any closer as MSU pulled away over the final ten minutes for the win. SIU were able to keep Mosley and Prim in check better than most teams, but their own offense struggled. Lance Jones led all scorers with 13, but he had to take 14 shots and seven free throws to get there. The Salukis continued to play without Domask for their weekend series at home against Illinois State and got blown out by the Redbirds in their first game on Saturday. It was an ugly day for SIU who played from behind for most of the first half. After SIU cut Illinois State’s lead to seven with just under two minutes to play in the first half, the Redbirds went on a 14-2 run that stretched into the second half and gave them a 19-point lead. It was never close from there, with another 25-5 run allowing Illinois State to increase its lead to as much as 37 points. SIU lost 80-55. Kyle Filewich led SIU with a double-double (13 and 10). A great performance on Sunday against Redbirds ensured that SIU would not be completely emptyhanded for the week. A 15-4 run early in the game gave Southern Illinois a 12 point lead midway through the first half, and they ended the half up by ten. A slow start to the second half allowed Illinois State to cut the lead to six, but an 11-0 run put the game out of reach and SIU led by double-digits the rest of the way. They won 59-49. Lance Jones led three Salukis in double figures with 14 points. SIU hosts Missouri State midweek and Valpo on Sunday and Monday this week. They will need to perform well this week for any chance at the top 6.
8.) Bradley 11-13, 5-10, NET 160, BPI 130 (No Change): Bradley keeps losing, but they continue to remain within striking distance of the top six due to the mediocrity at the bottom of the pack. Despite entering the week at 4-8 with losses to most of the league’s worst teams BU still looked like a decent bet to avoid Thursday after their 76-52 win at Valpo midweek. Bradley jumped out of the gates early in this one, with a 17-5 lead just five minutes into the game. That lead evaporated down to one less than three minuets later, and BU fell behind at one point, 21-20. However, an 11-0 run put BU up double digits and another run just after halftime put them up 17 early in the second half. From there they cruised to an easy win. The Braves had six guys score in double-figures led by Ville Tahvanainen’s 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Bradley went to MSU for a series over the weekend and it was one step forward, two steps back as before the games, they announced the suspensions of four players for the series including Elijah Childs, Terry Nolan, Ja’Shon Henry and Danya Kingsby. All four typically play a significant role for Bradley. The scaled back Braves suffered. They took a 9-2 lead early, and that is where the highlights stopped for BU. MSU went on a 17-0 run to take a 19-9 lead and Bradley never seriously challenged from there. After cutting the lead to six, BU allowed another 15-2 run by MSU to increase the deficit to 39-20. From there MSU cruised to a 20-point halftime lead and a 22-point win, 80-58. Ville Tahvanainen led the way for Bradley with 13 points. The second game was more of the same for the shorthanded Braves. They kept it close early, but MSU had opened up a ten-point lead by halftime. Bradley was never in the game in the second half, with MSU increasing its lead to as much as 19 at one point before settling into a 72-57 win over the Braves. Rienk Mast had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds for BU. Bradley will presumably get their horses back for this week’s Thursday contest at home against Illinois State. BU still has a shot to avoid Thursday. This week’s game is an absolute must-win.
9.) Northern Iowa, 7-14, 5-10, NET 200, BPI 185 (No Change): It was another extremely mediocre week for the Panthers as they got blown out at Drake and at home against Valpo before salvaging the final game at home against VU. UNI faced a tall task when it hit the road to play a midweek game against a Drake team that was 18-1 and coming off its first loss of the season. There was some hope among Panther faithful that they might be able to catch the Bulldogs in a “trap” game in advance of their series with Loyola. That did not occur. Early on the Panthers hung in a low scoring defensive game, but Drake went on first a 12-2 run over six and a half minutes, then scored on nine of their last eleven possessions as UNI’s offense started to participate to give the ‘Dogs a 41-29 halftime lead. UNI would claw to within seven at 52-45 with fourteen minutes to go. The Bulldogs dominated from there, going on a 28-14 run to finish the game as 80-59 winners. Trae Berhow scored 14 points for UNI. On Saturday, the Panthers returned home still with a shot at play-in avoidance but put up yet another dud in a season full of them with a 70-57 loss to Valpo. An early 14-2 Valpo run (capitalizing on one of UNI’s signature 5+ minute offensive droughts) essentially put the game away early for VU. UNI got within single digits just once, 51-42 with 13:34 left, but promptly went on a 3-and-a-half-minute offensive drought that allowed Valpo to increase the lead back to 15 and cruise to the win from there. UNI did not allow a single point for the last six minutes, but it didn’t matter because Valpo had built a 19-point lead and UNI was only able to score six points themselves in that stretch. Trae Berhow and Bowen Born led the team with 15 points each and Austin Phyfe was a rebound short of a double-double (14 and 9). The Sunday game went better for UNI. The Panthers have a formula they need to follow to have success, and they were able to follow it against Valpo in the late game. UNI was 8-17 from deep, outrebounded Valpo 30-24 and got quality production from Austin Phyfe while making all ten of their free throws. The game was close for most of the first half when UNI gained a little separation before halftime for a six-point lead. The lead stayed right around there until a 10-0 Panther run gave UNI a 17-point lead midway through the second half. The lead was big enough to withstand the required offensive drought, as UNI went five minutes without a point late in the game to allow Valpo to cut the lead to eight. But the Panthers were able to hold on. Northern Iowa used a short bench as their five starters each played at least 32 minutes. Four Panthers scored in double-figures with Trae Berhow (17 points) and Noah Carter (17 points, 9 rebounds) leading the way. UNI hosts Drake on Wednesday in their lone game on the schedule this week.
10.) Illinois State, 6-15, 3-12, NET 235, BPI 255 (No Change): Illinois State got a split with SIU to keep their very faint top-six hopes alive. It would be a very longshot for ISU to avoid the bottom four, but the win did keep a realistic shot at avoiding the MVC cellar alive. The Redbirds played probably their best game of the year against the shorthanded SIU Salukis in Carbondale on Saturday. SIU scored first, but Illinois State took it from there. They never trailed after that 2-0 deficit and were never even tied after they took a 6-4 lead. They held a seven-point lead with 1:56 to go in the first half when they embarked on a 14-2 run that took them into the second half and gave them a seventeen-point lead. They never looked back form there, going on a separate 25-3 run to open up a 37-point lead at one point. They ended up winning 80-58. DJ Horne led four Redbirds in double-figures with 17, while Emon Washington added a double-double with 11 and 10. ISU came back down to Earth in the second game, falling behind by 12 midway through the second half and never getting within a single possession for the remainder of the game. The Redbirds closed the gap to six early in the second half, only to see SIU go on a quick 11-0 run to open the game up. The ‘Birds never got within single digits again and lost 59-49. Josiah Strong led ISU with fourteen points off the bench. A trip to Bradley on Thursday is Illinois State’s only action this week.
MID MAJOR TIDBITS
A rundown of some of the nation’s top mid-majors is below. If numbers are in parenthesis it is their NET Rankings/BPI Ranking. I did this over the course of a few days so the rankings may be a little wonky in places the same way a panorama picture can look a little odd. I am going with a new bullet point format starting now.
American: There were a few big games scheduled for this conference this week, but most ended up being postponed so there was not a lot of movement.
o Houston (5/4): Got a win against South Florida before their big game with Memphis was postponed. Latest bracketology still has them as a 2 seed.
o SMU (57/50): SMU was in the “next four out” last week did not play a game this week as a big one with Wichita State was postponed. This week they are barely hanging on to the last spot in the “next four out” category in bracketology. They’re a bubble team with a lot of work to do.
o Memphis (61/54): The Tigers saw their opportunity against Houston wiped out this week due to COVID (their game against Cincinnati was also cancelled). They are nowhere to be seen in bracketology at this time.
o Wichita State (79/112): The Shockers are technically in second place but, tragically, are not in the mix for the NCAA Tournament. ☹
o Saint Louis (35/27): The Billikins actually played two games this week (vs. Rhode Island and @ Fordham) and won them both! Huzzah! They are currently listed as the second team out in bracketology.
o VCU (32/63): The Rams now technically lead the A-10 at 8-2 after wins at Dayton and Saint Bonaventure. They are listed as a 11-seed in bracketology, but also as the automatic bid so we don’t know where they’d fall on the curve as an at-large. Safe to say they’re a bubble team, though, as the other 11 seeds are the 3rd through 6th to last teams in.
o Saint Bonaventure (41/55): After a win over La Salle but a loss to VCU, Saint Bonaventure is no longer considered the A-10’s automatic rep as they’ve fallen behind VCU in the standings. They are currently one of the last four teams in the field on bracketology and playing in the “First Four”.
o Richmond (54/43): The Spiders’ win over the Saint Mary’s of Maryland Seahawks (in their first game since January 26th) was not enough to move them up the brackology ladder. They’re set to get back on the A-10 horse this week. They are currently listed as one of the first four out, so they are very much a bubble team.
o Davidson (70/47): Davidson got two wins this week but are still pretty strongly on the outside looking in.
o Rhode Island (87/81) and Dayton (89/90): These are decent teams that are on not in the NCAA running.
o Western Kentucky (75/84): With their two wins over Rice this week, Western Kentucky can now be considered Conference USA leaders. This has taken them off of the bubble board, which had them listed among the first teams out last week, since they are now considered the CUSA automatic bid. But should still be considered a bubble team as they are currently listed as a 12-seed which is where the final at-large line is.
o UAB (80/83): With two losses to Louisiana Tech this week, UAB is no longer technically leading the C-USA. They have, accordingly, been taken off of bracketology where they were a 13-seed during the week. They’ll need to win the C-USA tournament to get in.
o Marshall (67/63): The Thundering Herd continue to be the computers’ favorite with wins over Middle Tennessee this week, but they’ll still need to play their way in (although they could be an NIT bubble team).
o North Texas (72/78): The Mean Green are tied with Western Kentucky for the C-USA lead although they’ll still have to play their way into the tournament.
o Louisiana Tech (86/91): La Tech has played the largest portion of their schedule without interruption and is the last of the gaggle of CUSA teams with decent numbers. But they are not in the NCAA discussion without a CUSA Tournament title.
Mountain West: Most of the games of consequence in the MWC were postponed this week. There were three games amongst the teams that are in contention for NCAA spots.
o Utah State (53/46): The Aggies did not play this week as their program is on a COVID pause. They are technically winning the Mountain West right now and are listed as a 12-seed and automatic bid in bracketology, but would be right on the bubble if they did not win the auto bid.
o Colorado State (44/75): The Rams had their games with New Mexico cancelled this week due to COVID in the Lobos’ program, and it looks like their games with Nevada this week are in jeopardy as well due to COVID in the Wolfpack program. They are half a game behind Utah State in the MWC standings. The bubbliest of teams, CSU is currently listed as the second-to-last team in the field and playing in the First Four on bracketology.
o Boise State (37/51): In a rare feat in the MWC this week, Boise State actually played and won both of their scheduled games against UNLV. The Broncos are in a virtual tie with Utah State for first in the league (one more win and one more loss), half a game ahead of Colorado State. Boise is currently listed as the third-to-last team in the field and playing in the First Four on bracketology.
o San Diego State (24/22): Although they are technically in fourth place in the MWC conference standings, the computers continue to prefer the Aztecs who have wins over UCLA and Arizona State and beat San Jose this week. They are the only MWC team somewhat safely “in” on bracketology, listed as a 9-seed. They aren’t a lock but do have some margin for error.
o Nevada (105/106): The Wolfpack aren’t on the NCAA radar but are having a decent year and can provide a decent win for teams. They are still NIT contenders.
o Gonzaga (1/2): The Bulldogs remain one of the two final undefeated teams in the nation after handling an away game with San Francisco this week. They’re a lock for a 1-seed.
o BYU (30/34): The Cougars are still looking good for an at-large bid despite both of their scheduled games this week getting cancelled. They are currently listed as an 8-seed which is relatively safe territory, especially if they are able to avoid losses to anyone not named Gonzaga from here on out.
o Saint Mary’s (71/92): The Gaels played their first game since January 23rd and lost at Pepperdine. It feels like an NIT bid is probably even a longshot at this point for Saint Mary’s.
o San Francisco (101/105): USF has a win over Virginia but are also 10-10 and 4-6 in the WCC so you can count them out of the postseason.
o Summit League: There aren’t any particularly noteworthy teams in this league, but it is home to five of our MVFC brethren, so I think we should cover it. South Dakota (179/184) was in firm control of this league after a 9-0 start. They beat SDSU in Brookings for the first time in 20 years for their ninth win, but then lost the second game of the series, then got swept by North Dakota this weekend. They are now tied for the lead with North Dakota State (187/178) who did not play this week and still has SDSU and USD on the schedule. South Dakota State (134/116) split with Oral Roberts this weekend, and has played fewer games than USD and NDSU (9-3 vs. 6-2). Oral Roberts (178/164) is a game behind at 8-4, and the only non-Dakota school in the mix. Other MVFC schools include North Dakota (308/315) in fifth (but just threw a wrench in the race by sweeping USD), and Western Illinois (314/309) in seventh.
o Winthrop (69 nice/96) collected two more wins to improve to 18-1 on a very weak schedule and is currently penned in as the Big South’s automatic bid and have fallen to the 14-seed line in bracketology, which would not put them in the at-large conversation.
o Belmont (62/73): Belmont is in a similar situation after getting two more wins to get to 22-1. They have a gaudy record with little substance. They are currently on the last seed line for at-large teams, 12, so they could be a fringe bubble candidate if they got in that situation.
o SoCon: The Southern Conference continues to be one of the best mid majors. The title race continues to be exciting. Here is where we are at.
------Greensboro (95/88): UNCG took the SoCon lead with a 10-3 record with two wins this week including a win over Furman. As the conference leader, they are currently listed as a 14-seed in bracketology.
------East Tennessee State (117/140): Despite having worse computer numbers and losing a game this week to the Citadel, ETSU fints itself in second place. They are two wins and one loss behind Greensboro.
------Wofford (122/127): Conversely, the Terriers are one win and two losses behind Greensboro and tied with ETSU for second. They lost twice this week.
------Furman (78/91): The computers’ favorite SoCon team is actually in fourth place, three wins and a loss behind Greensboro after losing to the Spartans this week (but coming back to beat Western Carolina.
o Colgate (11/52): The Raiders continue to have a bizarrely high NET rating despite their 9-1 record coming entirely against Patriot League foes. They pulled a half game ahead of Navy (158/91) whose games were called off this week which allowed them to be listed on Bracketology where they debuted as a 13-seed.
------Toledo (68/79): Despite losing to Bowling Green this week, Toledo is the rare leader in NET, BPI and the actual standings for a league. They fell to the 13-seed line, showing they would not be an at-large contender.
------Akron (82/102): The Zips are just a half a game back after their win over Miami this week.
------Kent State (83/103): KSU is two wins and one loss back after two wins this week.
------Buffalo (85/93): UB has good computer numbers despite currently sitting is fourth.
o UCSB (50/68): The Gauchos finally took over first place of the Big West after two wins over Hawaii coupled with UC-Irvine’s loss to Riverside. They have great computer numbers and are listed as a 13-seed in their first bracketology appearance.
o Wright State (59/53): Wright has the best computer numbers in the Horizon by far and are now finally in first place after their sweep of Milwaukee coupled with Cleveland State’s loss to Detroit. They are listed as a 13-seed in their first bracketology appearance. Youngstown State (259/257) is in Wright State's league and are also a member of the MVFC.
Our Lady of the Lake Update: No DI teams came calling so OLOTL did not play this week. They are still scheduled to play the first (and only ) games against teams at their level this week. I await with baited breath.