NCAA Basketball Rankings 2012: Mid-Major Rankings for Week 8
Week 7 contained plenty of excitement among mid-majors. South Dakota State and Canisius picked up huge wins, defeating New Mexico and Temple on the road, respectively, Middle Tennessee defeated a SEC opponent for the second time this year, and Northern Iowa defeated St. Mary's in a battle between premier mid-major programs.
Read on to see the complete mid-major Top 25.
(I consider a mid-major to be any team that does not compete in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Pac-12, Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West.)
25. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Last Week's Rank: Not Ranked
Notable Wins: Southern Miss (Home)
Louisiana Tech is 2-2 since starting the season with a 7-1 record. The Bulldogs have one of the more dynamic scorers in the WAC in sophomore Raheem Appleby, who is averaging 17.8 points on 44.1-percent shooting.
On Saturday they will begin conference play as they host the Denver Pioneers.
24. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Last Week's Rank: 19
Notable Wins: None
After a 9-0 start to the season, Eastern Kentucky faltered with losses to Illinois and North Carolina A&T. Over the weekend, the Colonels got past the bump in the road by defeating High Point 73-70.
On Sunday the Colonels play an important nonconference game at West Virginia.
23. Loyola (MD) Greyhounds
Record: 9-3, 1-1 MAAC
Last Week's Rank: 25
Notable Wins: Albany (Neutral)
Loyola (MD) easily defeated Mount St. Mary's last Saturday for its second win in a row. The Greyhounds shot 13-of-21 in the first half to build a 40-18 lead that they never relinquished.
This week they face a tough two-game stretch with games against Bucknell and Memphis.
22. North Dakota State Bison
Record: 10-3, 1-0 Summit
Last Week's Rank: 24
Notable Wins: Duquesne (Road)
North Dakota State defeated Morehead State last week for the second time this season. The first win came at Morehead State on December 5.
On Saturday the Bison will return to conference competition with a game against South Dakota State.
21. George Mason Patriots
Last Week's Rank: 23
Notable Wins: Virginia (Home), Richmond (Neutral)
In its first game since early December, George Mason squeaked by Richmond 67-64. Junior Sherrod Wright scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
The Patriots' only game this week is at South Florida on Saturday.
20. Canisius Golden Griffins
Record: 8-3, 2-0 MAAC
Last Week's Rank: Not Ranked
Notable Wins: Saint Bonaventure (Home), Temple (Road)
Canisius has been the biggest surprise among mid-majors this season. The Golden Griffins were picked No. 9 in the MAAC back in October, but right now they are alone at the top of the standings with a 2-0 conference record.
On Wednesday, Canisius picked up a very impressive win at Temple, outscoring the Owls by 18 points in the second half to win by 10, and a few days later they played a close game with UNLV but lost.
19. Ohio Bobcats
Last Week's Rank: 15
Notable Wins: Richmond (Home), Saint Bonaventure (Home)
Ohio ended a two-game losing streak with an easy win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday.
Although the Bobcats are 2-4 in their past six games, they will have two more opportunities for quality, nonconference wins with games against Oklahoma and Marshall in the next two weeks.
18. Illinois-Chicago Flames
Last Week's Rank: 7
Notable Wins: Northwestern (Road), Colorado State (Home)
After an impressive, 9-1 start to the season, Illinois-Chicago lost twice this week, first to Western Illinois and then to Miami (OH).
The Flames will look to get back on track in their final nonconference matchup against Toledo.
17. Davidson Wildcats
Record: 6-5, 2-0 SoCon
Last Week's Rank: 9
Notable Wins: Vanderbilt (Neutral), West Virginia (Neutral)
Davidson's inconsistency continued as the Wildcats fell at Drexel on Saturday. The Wildcats were outrebounded 40-14 and allowed Drexel to get 16 offensive rebounds.
In order to keep their status as one of the better mid-majors this season, they need to have good performances against Richmond and Duke in their next two games.
16. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Last Week's Rank: Not Ranked
Notable Wins: Oklahoma (Road)
Stephen F. Austin picked up its first notable win of the season last week by defeating Oklahoma on the road.
The Lumberjacks have now won their past four games, and their only loss is at Texas A&M by only eight points.
15. St. Mary's Gaels
Last Week's Rank: 13
Notable Wins: Utah State (Road)
St. Mary's failed to capitalize on an opportunity for a quality win, falling at Northern Iowa on Sunday.
The loss ended the Gaels' four-game winning streak.
14. Brigham Young Cougars
Last Week's Rank: 12
Notable Wins: Utah (Home)
Brigham Young is still looking for a signature win this season. The Cougars will have one more nonconference opportunity against Virginia Tech on Saturday before heading into WCC competition.
13. Santa Clara Broncos
Last Week's Rank: 18
Notable Wins: Saint Louis (Road)
Santa Clara defeated Alcorn State and Wagner over the weekend to win the Cable Car Classic. Senior forward Marc Trasolini dominated the tournament, averaging 23.5 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Broncos have now won six consecutive games, and both of their losses this season have come in overtime.
12. Utah State Aggies
Last Week's Rank: 17
Notable Wins: Santa Clara (Road)
Utah State has won eight straight games, and the last two have come by 12 points each.
The Aggies will look to continue their winning streak as they begin conference play at Texas-San Antonio this weekend.
11. Northern Iowa Panthers
Last Week's Rank: 11
Notable Wins: George Mason (Road), St. Mary's (Home)
Northern Iowa has played an incredibly difficult schedule this season, and although it is 0-3 against the Top 25, it does have strong wins over George Mason and St. Mary's and no bad losses.
The Panthers begin Missouri Valley play on Sunday at Wichita State.
10. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Record: 10-4, 1-0 Summit
Last Week's Rank: 14
Notable Wins: Marshall (Neutral), New Mexico (Road)
South Dakota State picked up its best regular-season win in school history with a 70-65 win at previously unbeaten New Mexico. The Jackrabbits took a 5-3 lead early in the game and never relinquished it as Nate Wolters led the way with 28 points, four rebounds and seven assists.
The Jackrabbits will begin Summit League play at North Dakota State on Saturday.
9. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Record: 9-3, 1-0 Sun Belt
Last Week's Rank: 16
Notable Wins: UCF (Road), Ole Miss (Home), Vanderbilt (Neutral)
With a win over Vanderbilt on Friday, Middle Tennessee defeated an SEC opponent for the second time this season.
The Blue Raiders have been winners in four of their past five games, and during that stretch no opponent has scored more than 64 points.
8. Illinois State Redbirds
Last Week's Rank: 10
Notable Wins: Dayton (Road)
Illinois State has won its past four games, defeating Western Michigan, Morgan State, Dayton and Austin Peay.
The Redbirds will begin Missouri Valley competition with a tough three-game stretch that includes games against Indiana State, Creighton and Northern Iowa.
7. Bucknell Bison
Last Week's Rank: 5
Notable Wins: Purdue (Road), George Mason (Home), La Salle (Home)
Bucknell was upset by Princeton on Saturday 79-67. In the loss, senior Mike Muscala posted his eighth double-double of the season.
The Bison will continue their road trip at Loyola (MD) on Friday.
6. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Last Week's Rank: 6
Notable Wins: Robert Morris (Neutral), Fairfield (Home)
After starting the season 1-2, Lehigh has won its past eight games. Last week the Mountain Hawks easily defeated North Texas, even with the absence of C.J. McCollum.
Next up on Lehigh's schedule is a date with Bryant on Saturday.
5. Belmont Bruins
Last Week's Rank: 8
Notable Wins: Stanford (Road), Middle Tennessee (Home), South Dakota State (Home)
Belmont dominated South Dakota State on Wednesday, winning 76-49. With the win, the Bruins are now 5-1 against mid-majors.
This week they will play in the UCF Holiday Classic, facing Boston on Friday and either Howard or UCF on Saturday.
4. Murray State Racers
Last Week's Rank: 3
Notable Wins: St. John's (Neutral)
Murray State's six-game winning streak ended with a loss at Dayton over the weekend.
The Racers will play their final nonconference game against Valparaiso this week before starting OVC competition against Tennessee-Martin in January.
3. Wichita State Shockers
Last Week's Rank: 4
Notable Wins: VCU (Road), Iowa (Neutral), Southern Miss (Neutral)
Wichita State defeated Southern Miss on Saturday for its third neutral-site win of the year. The Shockers erased a 12-point deficit and did not lead in the second half until the 2:03 mark.
The Shockers will begin conference play against Northern Iowa on Sunday.
2. Creighton Bluejays
Last Week's Rank: 2
Notable Wins: Wisconsin (Neutral), Arizona State (Neutral), California (Road)
Creighton extended its winning streak to five games with a 17-point win over Tulsa on Wednesday. Sophomore Avery Dingman had a breakout game with 21 points and three steals.
The Bluejays will begin Missouri Valley competition with a game against Evansville on Saturday.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Last Week's Rank: 1
Notable Wins: Clemson (Neutral), Oklahoma (Neutral), Davidson (Neutral), Kansas State (Neutral)
Gonzaga defeated Campbell on Wednesday in its only game last week.
The Zags will host Baylor on Friday before starting a three-game road trip that includes a game against Oklahoma State.
Other Mid-Majors to Keep an Eye on
Robert Morris (8-5) saw its five-game winning streak come to an end with a five-point loss at Arkansas.
Fairfield (8-5, 1-1 MAAC) has won its past four games. The Stags won last Saturday at St. Joe's.
Albany (9-3) won six games in a row before getting upset by Quinnipiac on Friday.
Stony Brook (8-3) nearly upset Maryland on Friday but ultimately lost 76-69.
Valparaiso (9-4) is only 3-2 in its past five games, but the Crusaders have an opportunity for redemption with a game at Murray State on Saturday.