Mid-Major Top 25—Nov. 29: Wins Over UCLA And Minnesota Power Portland

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent INovember 29, 2009

1. Butler

Butler does not have all of the big names that they had in the past, but they have been tested this year, and despite losing a close game to Minnesota, they defeated UCLA. Currently, Butler is the best mid-major in the nation and deserves a number one ranking.

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

Key Losses: Minnesota (Neutral)

2. Portland

At the start of the year, people were expecting Portland to be good this season, but not this good. Portland is currently 5-0. They dominated UCLA, and have kept Oregon and Minnesota in control throughout wins over them.

Portland does not have enough under their belt to put them ahead of Butler. They play West Virginia on Sunday. If they can play close with them, they could be considered the top mid-major. 

Key Wins: Oregon (Home), UCLA (Neutral), Minnesota (Neutral)

Key Losses: None

3. Gonzaga

Portland's West Coast Conference rival is 5-1. Their single loss was in a close game at Michigan State. After losing to Michigan State, Gonzaga was tested Maui, Hawaii. They won all three games against Colorado, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati on their way to a Maui Championship.

Key Wins: Wisconsin (Neutral), Cincinnati (Neutral)

Key Losses: Michigan State (Road)

4. VCU

Nobody expected VCU to be as good as they have been this year. They lost star point guard Eric Maynor to the NBA and their head coach Anthony Grant to Alabama. VCU proved that their loss at Western Michigan was only a fluke by beating Oklahoma and then Nevada.

Key Wins: Oklahoma (Home), Nevada (Home)

Key Losses: Western Michigan (Road)

5. ODU

Old Dominion was a favorite this year in the CAA. After winning their first four games, ODU lost to Missouri and Mississippi State. If they want to stay in the top half of the mid-major poll, then they must beat Richmond and Delaware this week.

Key Wins: Marshall (Home)

Key Losses: Missouri (Neutral), Mississippi State (Neutral)

6. Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa, led by Kwadzo Ahelegbe, is 4-1. 

Key Wins: Boston College (Neutral)

Key Losses: DePaul (Neutral)

7. Siena

People had high expectations for the Saints entering this season. The Saints have disappointed with losses to Temple and Saint John's, but it is too early to lose hope on them. They have multiple scorers and it is just a matter of time before they all break out together.

Key Wins: Northeastern (Home)

Key Losses: Temple (Road), Saint John's (Neutral)

8. George Mason

George Mason's record stands at .500, but it is deceiving. The Patriots have just barely missed out on wins over Villanova and Georgia Tech. They have proven that they can play with the top teams in the country.

Key Wins: Indiana (Neutral)

Key Losses: Tulane (Road)

9. San Diego

San Diego, also from the WCC, has beaten Oklahoma and Houston in their last two games. They were picked 6th preseason and are exceeding expectations.

Key Wins: Oklahoma (Neutral), Houston (Neutral)

Key Losses: Pacific (Road)

10. Creighton

Similarly to George Mason, Creighton's record deceives us from the talent of their team. They lost to Dayton in their opener, and lost in a close overtime game to Michigan. They have been able to compete with the schools that they have played this year and have the potential to go be one of the top mid-majors with conference play starting up soon.

Key Wins: None

Key Losses: Dayton (Road), Michigan (Neutral), Xavier (Neutral)

11. Illinois State

Illinois State has yet to lose. They have won all five games that they have played. However, they have yet to play strong competition. Their first game against stronger competition is on November 29 against Saint Bonaventure. 

Key Wins: None

Key Losses: None

12. Morgan State

Morgan State has played well against strong competition. They have won at Arkansas and against East Tennessee State. On Saturday, they lost a heartbreaker by one point in overtime against Appalachian State. They still have a few games against good competition coming in @Loyola Manhattan, and Baylor.

Key Wins: East Tennessee State (Home), Arkansas (Road)

Key Losses: Appalachian State (Road)

13. Ohio

Ohio lost their first game against solid competition in Marshall after winning their first four against smaller conference teams.

Key Wins: None

Key Losses: Marshall (Road)

14. WKU

Many people expected WKU to be very good this year. They have struggled early on, but I'm not losing hope on them. They play a crucial game on December 2 at South Carolina. A win would show that they have the talent to be considered a top mid-major squad.

Key Wins: Milwaukee (Neutral)

Key Losses: Indiana State (Home)

15. Wright State

Wright State is 3-2 this season. Both of their losses have been in close  road games against Washington and Northeastern. The only win of note has been over mediocre team Belmont.

Key Wins: None

Key Losses: Northeastern (Road)

16. Cal State Fullerton

Fullerton caught the nation's attention with a double overtime victory at UCLA. They are still unbeaten. They don't play any more big teams this season, so they will have to lose a minimal amount of games to remain a top mid-major school.

17. Niagara

Niagara blew a late lead in their opener against Auburn and lost 69-65. All season they have had trouble holding leads late in the game, but they have continued to win games despite missing star guard Tyrone Lewis due to injury for most of their games. Their only unacceptable loss is to Austin Peay. They play a big game at Arkansas on November 29. Multiple teams have beat up on Arkansas this year and Niagara looks to do the same.

Key Wins: UCF (Neutral), Mount Saint Mary's (Road)

Key Losses: Austin Peay (Neutral)

18. Northern Colorado

Northern Colorado stands at 6-0. They have not faced tough competition, but they have put up good numbers and it would not be surprising to see them win the Big Sky Conference if they keep up the good basketball.

Key Wins: Air Force (Road)

Key Losses: None

19. Murray State

After losing their season opener by five points at Cal, Murray State has won their last five games to post a 5-1 record.

Key Wins: James Madison (Home)

Key Losses: None

20. Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's has only lost once to Vanderbilt by 2. Their only quality win was against San Diego State. Their high win percentage will most likely drop when conference play begins.

Key Wins: San Diego State (Home)

Key Losses: Vanderbilt (Home)

21. Wofford

Wofford is currently 3-3. Their one big win was at Georgia. They have shown that they can compete with some quality schools. They lost to Pitt and Bradley by three and two respectively. They also stayed close with Illinois before losing by 14.

Key Wins: Georgia (Road)

Key Losses: Bradley (Road)

22. Rider

Rider got the nation's attention quickly by defeating #19 Mississippi State in the season opener by double digits. The Broncs went on to then lose to Virginia and Kentucky in complete blowouts, causing many to think that the reason behind the Rider victory in Mississippi was because the Bulldogs were playing without Renardo Sindey and John Riek. Rider has won two out of their last three and still show the potential to have a good season.

Key Wins: Mississippi State (Road)

Key Losses: Sam Houston State (Neutral)

23. Northeastern

Northeastern lost in a close game at Siena and also lost in an overtime game at Boston U. However, they have edged put wins against Utah State and Wright State. This is a team that can win in the CAA.

Key Wins: Wright State (Home)

Key Losses: Boston University (Road)

24. Mount Saint Mary's

Mount Saint Mary's has not shown much in their victories except for a demolishing win against Loyola Maryland. 

Key Wins: Loyola Maryland (Road)

Key Losses: Niagara (Home)

25. Bradley

Bradley has come back strong after losing their season opener. They fought off a tough Wofford squad for their second win. They were able to sneak in as #25 at the last minute with a four point win against nationally ranked #20 (AP Top 25) Illinois.

Key Wins: Illinois (Neutral), Wofford (Home)

Key Losses: Brigham Young (Road)

Other Teams Considered

Sam Houston State, Long Beach State, Cornell, Long Island University, UC Santa Barbara, Radford, Iona, Manhattan


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