Mid-Major Top 25: Murray State Steaming Through OVC, St. Mary's Takes Down Zags

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2012

Mid-Major Top 25: Murray State Steaming Through OVC, St. Mary's Takes Down Zags

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    Here are the top 25 mid-majors in the nation based on my own evaluation.

    I consider a mid-major team to be any team that is not from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Mountain West, Atlantic 10 or Conference USA.

    *Follow Jesse Kramer on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer for more college basketball news and information.

25. Belmont Bruins

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    Record: 12-6, 5-1 A-Sun

    RPI: 86

    Previous Ranking: 25

    Belmont rebounded from a loss to Lipscomb with a win over Stetson. The Bruins host Florida Gulf Coast (7-10, 3-4 A-Sun) on Monday.

    Key Wins: Middle Tennessee (Road), Marshall (Home)

    Key Losses: Miami-Ohio (Road), Lipscomb (Home)

24. Charleston Cougars

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    Record: 12-5, 4-2 SoCon

    RPI: 87

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Charleston defeated Elon on Saturday to move into second place in the SoCon South. The Cougars play at undefeated Davidson on Thursday.

    Key Wins: Clemson (Road), UMass (Neutral)

    Key Losses: Wofford (Road),  UNC-Greensboro (Home)

23. Nevada Wolfpack

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    Record: 14-3, 4-0 WAC

    RPI: 74

    Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

    Nevada extended its winning streak to 11 games with a come-from-behind win over Hawaii.

    Key Wins: Washington (Home), Montana (Road)

    Key Losses: Missouri State (Home)

22. Denver Pioneers

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    Record: 14-4, 4-1 Sun Belt

    RPI: 48

    Previous Ranking: 22

    Denver rebounded from a close loss at Colorado State with an easy win over Western Kentucky. 

    Key Wins: Southern Miss (Home), St. Mary's (Home)

    Key Losses: UALR (Home)

21. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

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    Record: 16-4, 8-0 Summit

    RPI: 44

    Previous Ranking: 23

    Oral Roberts swept its two-game road trip to remain undefeated in conference play. The Golden Eagles return home, where they will play IPFW (9-8, 3-5 Summit) on Thursday.

    Key Wins: Missouri State (Home), Xavier (Road), South Dakota State (Home)

    Key Losses: Texas-SA (Neutral)

20. Davidson Wildcats

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    Record: 12-4, 6-0 SoCon

    RPI: 40

    Previous Ranking: 21

    Davidson has won five straight games and six of its last seven. The Wildcats play their next two at home against Charleston and Citadel.

    Key Wins: Kansas (Road)

    Key Losses: Charlotte (Road)

19. Kent State Golden Flashes

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    Record: 12-4, 2-1 MAC

    RPI: 103

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Kent State survived a 60-point second half from Bowling Green and won 92-87. The Golden Flashes play at Ohio on Wednesday.

    Key Wins: West Virginia (Road)

    Key Losses: Texas-Arlington (Neutral), Utah State (Road)

18. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

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    Record: 15-5, 7-1 Summit

    RPI: 79

    Previous Ranking: 20

    South Dakota State rebounded from its loss at Oral Roberts with blowout wins over South Dakota and UMKC. The Jackrabbits start a three-game road trip at North Dakota State (13-4, 6-2 Summit) on Saturday.

    Key Wins: Washington (Road)

    Key Losses: North Dakota (Road)

17. Ohio Bobcats

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    Record: 13-4, 1-2 MAC

    RPI: 81

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Ohio lost for the third time in its last four games, falling at Akron, 68-63. The Bobcats play their next four games at home, starting with Kent State on Wednesday.

    Key Wins: Marshall (Road), Northern Iowa (Road)

    Key Losses: Robert Morris (Home), Bowling Green (Road)

16. George Mason Patriots

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    Record: 13-5, 5-1 CAA

    RPI: 115

    Previous Ranking: 16

    George Mason remained tied for first place with a 89-83 win at James Madison on Saturday. The Patriots play their next three at home, starting with Delaware on Wednesday.

    Key Wins: Charleston (Road), Georgia State (Home)

    Key Losses: Florida Int. (Neutral), Florida Atlantic (Road)

15. Wagner Seahawks

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    Record: 14-3, 5-1 NEC

    RPI: 80

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Wagner moved up to second place in the NEC with a win over Central Connecticut State on Saturday. The Seahawks look for their eighth straight win at St. Francis-New York (8-9, 5-1 NEC) on Thursday.

    Key Wins: Pitt (Road)

    Key Losses: Lehigh (Home)

14. Northern Iowa Panthers

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    Record: 14-6, 3-4 MVC

    RPI: 21

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Northern Iowa lost on the road for the fourth time this year on Sunday. The Panthers led Bradley by 18 in the second half, but the Braves stormed back to win 78-67.

    Key Wins: Iowa State (Road), Colorado State (Home)

    Key Losses: Evansville (Home), Bradley (Road)

13. Iona Gaels

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    Record: 14-4, 6-1

    RPI: 39

    Previous Ranking: 6

    After losing to Manhattan on Thursday, Iona regained control of first place in the MAAC with a win over Loyola (MD) on Sunday.

    Key Wins: Maryland (Neutral), St. Joseph's (Home), Denver (Road)

    Key Losses: Hofstra (Road), Manhattan (Home)

12. Cleveland State Vikings

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    Record: 15-4, 5-2 Horizon

    RPI: 63

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Cleveland State lost at Valparaiso for its second Horizon League loss.

    Key Wins: Vanderbilt (Road), St. Bonaventure (Home), Kent State (Road)

    Key Losses: Hofstra (Neutral), Youngstown State (Home)

11. Weber State Wildcats

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    Record: 14-3, 6-0 Big Sky

    RPI: 72

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Weber State took care of Montana, 80-64, to gain complete control of first place in the Big Sky.

    Key Wins: Montana (Home)

    Key Losses: None

10. Long Beach State 49ers

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    Record: 12-6, 5-0 Big West

    RPI: 56

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Long Beach State survived an upset bid from Pacific to remain undefeated in Big West play.

    Key Wins: Pitt (Road), Xavier (Road)

    Key Losses: Montana (Road)

9. Brigham Young Cougars

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    Record: 15-4, 4-1 WCC

    RPI: 43

    Previous Ranking: 10

    BYU defeated Santa Clara on national television to extend its winning streak to four games. The Cougars play a very winnable game at San Diego (6-10, 1-3 WCC) on Monday.

    Key Wins: Nevada (Neutral), Weber State (Home)

    Key Losses: Utah State (Road)

8. Virginia Commonwealth Rams

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    Record: 13-5, 4-2 CAA

    RPI: 83

    Previous Ranking: 14

    VCU ended a two-game slide with wins over James Madison and Delaware this week. The Rams look to stay hot against William & Mary (4-14, 2-4 CAA) on Thursday.

    Key Wins: Richmond (Home)

    Key Losses: Georgia State (Home)

7. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

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    Record: 17-2, 6-0 Sun Belt

    RPI: 69

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Middle Tennessee won its ninth consecutive game, defeating Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

    Key Wins: UCLA (Road), Mississippi (Neutral)

    Key Losses: Belmont (Home), UAB (Road)

6. Wichita State Shockers

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    Record: 15-3, 6-1 MVC

    RPI: 37

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Wichita State has won five straight games since losing to Creighton. The Shockers defeated Indiana State on Sunday to remain undefeated in true road games.

    Key Wins: Colorado (Neutral), UNLV (Home)

    Key Losses: None

5. Gonzaga Bulldogs

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    Record: 14-3, 4-1 WCC

    RPI: 8

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Gonzaga rebounded from a blowout loss to St. Mary's with a 62-58 win at Loyola Marymount.

    Key Wins: Arizona (Neutral), Xavier (Road)

    Key Losses: None

4. Creighton Bluejays

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    Record: 16-2, 6-1 MVC

    RPI: 12

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Creighton improved to 6-1 in the MVC with wins over Illinois State and Southern Illinois this weekend.

    Key Wins: San Diego State (Road), Northwestern (Home), Wichita State (Road), Northern Iowa (Home)

    Key Losses: Missouri State (Home)

3. Harvard Crimson

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    Record: 15-2, 1-0 Ivy

    RPI: 53

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Harvard defeated George Washington, 68-49, in its non-conference finale on Saturday. The Crimson have a week off before a rematch with Dartmouth.

    Key Wins: Florida State (Neutral), UCF (Neutral), St. Joseph's (Home)

    Key Losses: Fordham (Road)

2. St. Mary's Gaels

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    Record: 17-2, 6-0 WCC

    RPI: 24

    Previous Ranking: 5

    St. Mary's is now in complete control of first place in the WCC after defeating Gonzaga and Portland this week.

    Key Wins: Northern Iowa (Home), Weber State (Home), Missouri State (Home), BYU (Road), Gonzaga (Home)

    Key Losses: None

1. Murray State Racers

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    Record: 18-0, 6-0 OVC

    RPI: 28

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Murray State survived Tennessee Tech in a close game to stay among the undefeated ranks with Syracuse and Baylor. The Racers play at defending champion Morehead State (9-10, 3-3 OVC) on Wednesday.

    Key Wins: Southern Miss (Neutral), Dayton (Home), Memphis (Road)

    Key Losses: None

Just Missed the Cut

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    Loyola-Maryland (12-5, 5-2 MAAC) dropped to second place in the MAAC after losing at Iona on Sunday.

    Drexel (12-5, 4-2 CAA) has won four straight games. During that stretch, opponents are averaging just 48.8 points per game.

    Long Island (12-6, 6-0 NEC) is off to a hot start in conference play after a mediocre non-conference performance.

    Missouri State (11-8, 4-3 MVC) fell out of the top 25 after an overtime loss to Evansville.

    Georgia State (13-4, 5-1 CAA) is the surprise of the CAA this year. The Panthers have won 13 of their last 14.

    Norfolk State (13-5, 5-0 MEAC) defeated Morgan State in two overtimes to stay undefeated in the MEAC.

    Milwaukee (13-6, 6-1 Horizon) has won three straight games.

    Valparaiso (12-7, 5-2 Horizon) pulled even with Cleveland State in the Horizon League after taking down the Vikings on Sunday.