Mid-Major Top 25 For Jan. 3: Gonzaga and Butler Rising, Overcoming Slow Starts

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

These weekly rankings will rank which mid-majors are the best in the nation, factoring in record, RPI, and whom the teams have beaten and lost to. There are different opinions on which teams qualify as mid-majors. I say that mid-majors are teams not in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac-10, Mountain West, Conference USA, or Atlantic 10. Teams from any other conference constitute as mid-majors.

Rank. Team (Previous Ranking)

1. Old Dominion Monarchs (1)

Record: 9-3, 0-1 CAA

RPI: 20

Old Dominion keeps its No. 1 spot despite losing to No. 10 Missouri. The Monarchs look for their first CAA win of the year at Towson on Monday.

Key Wins: Xavier (Neutral), Richmond (Home), Dayton (Home).

Key Losses: Delaware (Road).

2. Cleveland State Vikings (2)

Record: 15-1, 4-0 Horizon

RPI: 26

Cleveland State rebounded from its first loss of the season with wins over South Florida, Loyola (IL) and Illinois-Chicago. The Vikings 4-0 Horizon League record will be on the line at Butler on Friday night.

Key Wins: Iona (Home), Kent State (Home).

Key Losses: None.

3. Wichita State Shockers (3)

Record: 11-2, 2-0 MVC

RPI: 43

Wichita State failed to pick up any huge OOC wins, but the Shockers dominated their lower competition. They will look to continue their hot MVC start against Drake on Tuesday.

Key Wins: Virginia (Neutral).

Key Losses: None.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs (5)

Record: 10-5

RPI: 50

Gonzaga enters WCC play with a six-game winning streak. During this streak, the Bulldogs have defeated Baylor, Xavier, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest.

Key Wins: Marquette (Neutral), Baylor (Neutral), Xavier (Home), Oklahoma State (Home).

Key Losses: Washington State (Road).

5. Drexel Dragons (7)

Record: 9-2, 1-0 CAA

RPI: 30

Drexel easily defeated Niagara this week. The Dragons play their first conference home game against Hofstra on Monday.

Key Wins: Louisville (Road).

Key Losses: None.

6. George Mason Patriots (4)

Record: 9-3, 1-0 CAA

RPI: 64

George Mason's seven-game winning streak ended with a loss to Dayton. 

Key Wins: Harvard (Home), Florida Atlantic (Home).

Key Losses: Wofford (Neutral), Dayton (Road).

7. St. Mary's Gaels (8)

Record: 12-2

RPI: 45

St. Mary's wrapped up December on a six-game winning streak. The Gaels open WCC play at Loyola Marymount on Thursday.

Key Wins: St. John's (Home).

Key Losses: None.

8. Butler Bulldogs (9)

Record: 10-4, 2-0 Horizon

RPI: 19

Butler defeated Washington State to win the Diamond Head Classic. The Bulldogs then won their conference home opener against Valparaiso. They will get a chance to hand Cleveland State its first Horizon League loss on Friday.

Key Wins: Florida State (Neutral), Washington State (Neutral), Valparaiso (Home).

Key Losses: Evansville (Home).

9. Utah State Aggies (10)

Record: 13-2, 2-0 WAC 

RPI: 42

Utah State defeated Hawaii and San Jose State to start 2-0 in WAC play. The Aggies start a three-game road trip at Nevada on Saturday.

Key Wins: None.

Key Losses: None.

10. Missouri State Bears (11)

Record: 10-3, 2-0 MVC

RPI: 54

Missouri State has won four straight games. During that stretch, the Bears defeated Northern Iowa and Illinois State to start MVC play at 2-0. 

Key Wins: Northern Iowa (Road).

Key Losses: Tulsa (Road).

11. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (12)

Record: 12-2, 3-0 Big South

RPI: 91

Coastal Carolina looks to continue a hot start in conference play against VMI on Thursday.

Key Wins: None.

Key Losses: Charleston (Road).

12. Portland Pilots (13)

Record: 12-3

RPI: 41

Portland takes a five-game winning streak to Gonzaga on Saturday. The Pilots finished 3-0 in their three-game homestand.

Key Wins: Florida Atlantic (Home).

Key Losses: Washington State (Road).

13. Kent State Golden Flashes (6)

Record: 9-5

RPI: 73

Kent State has had recent struggles with four losses in its last six games. The Golden Flashes look to get back on track in their conference opener against Akron.

Key Wins: Iona (Neutral), Furman (Home).

Key Losses: UAB (Road), Morehead State (Road), James Madison (Home).

14. Virginia Commonwealth Rams (14)

Record: 9-4, 1-0 CAA

RPI: 71

Key Wins: UCLA (Neutral).

Key Losses: South Florida (Road), UAB (Road).

15. North Texas Mean Green (15)

Record: 13-2, 2-0 Sun Belt

RPI: 95

North Texas has won six straight games since losing to Sam Houston State. 

Key Wins: None.

Key Losses: Sam Houston State (Road).

16. James Madison Dukes (23)

Record: 10-3, 0-1 CAA

RPI: 53

James Madison has won four straight games after a two-game slide in early December. The Dukes host Northeastern on Monday.

Key Wins: Princeton (Home), Kent State (Road).

Key Losses: Georgia State (Road), Marshall (Road).

17. Northern Iowa Panthers (16)

Record: 9-5, 0-2 MVC

RPI: 78

Northern Iowa has had a rough start in MVC play with losses to Missouri State and Southern Illinois. The Panthers look to get back on track against Evansville on Tuesday.

Key Wins: Iowa State (Home), New Mexico (Neutral).

Key Losses: Milwaukee (Road), Missouri State (Home), Southern Illinois (Road).

18. Oakland Golden Grizzlies (18)

Record: 9-8, 4-0 Summit

RPI: 72

To this point, Oakland has dominated the Summit at 4-0. The Golden Grizzlies stand tied with IPFW for first place.

Key Wins: Tennessee (Road).

Key Losses: Valparaiso (Home).

19. Murray State Racers (Unranked)

Record: 9-4, 2-1 OVC

RPI: 84

After a rough stretch that carried over from late November into early December, Murray State has won five straight games. 

Key Wins: Stanford (Neutral).

Key Losses: Morehead State (Road).

20. Princeton Tigers (20)

Record: 10-4

RPI: 35

Princeton's eight-game winning streak came to an end with a loss at Central Florida. The Tigers play their final non-conference opponent on Tuesday in a game against Marist.

Key Wins: Rutgers (Home).

Key Losses: James Madison (Road), Presbyterian (Neutral).

21. Charleston Cougars (17)

Record: 9-5, 2-0 SoCon

RPI: 75

Charleston has lost two of its last three games. The Cougars were most recently manhandled by Morehead State on Sunday night. 

Key Wins: Coastal Carolina (Home), Tennessee (Road.

Key Losses: Clemson (Home), Morehead State (Road).

22. Valparaiso Crusaders (22)

Record: 10-5, 2-1 Horizon

RPI: 66

Vaparaiso's four-game winning streak ended with a loss at Butler.

Key Wins: Oakland (Road), Ball State (Home).

Key Losses: Ohio (Road), Toledo (Road).

23. Creighton Jays (Unranked)

Record: 10-4, 2-0 MVC

RPI: 103

Crieghton is riding a six-game winning streak. The Jays look to continue the streak against Missouri State on Tuesday.

Key Wins: None.

Key Losses: None.

24. Vermont Catamounts (24)

Record: 9-3

RPI: 52

Vermont has won three of its last four games. The Catamounts open up America East play at Stony Brook on Tuesday.

Key Wins: Iona (Road).

Key Losses: Fairfield (Road).

25. Harvard Crimson (25)

Record: 9-3

RPI: 76

Harvard defeated Monmouth and MIT to move to 9-3 on the year. The Crimson play at Boston College on Tuesday and then open Ivy League play at Dartmouth this weekend.

Key Wins: Colorado (Home).

Key Losses: None.

Added: Murray State, Creighton.

Dropped: Lipscomb, Jacksonville.

Considered: Akron, Belmont, Fairfield, Furman, Iona, Jacksonville, Lipscomb, Montana, Quinnipiac.


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