Every Monday, we’re going to be giving you readers and fans and coaches more and more reason to hate us. How can we do this outside of just being our natural, irritating selves? By ranking as many teams in as many ways as possible, of course. And we won’t reserve our judgment for your scorn in big-boy country. No, we’d like to alienate ourselves to the fan bases around the nation, mid-major schools included.
So that’s what we have here, the annual Monday feature that will run through the end of the season. I’ll have an accompanying graphic next week (it’s still up on the lift right now; needs a little more tinkering before I unveil it to the masses). If you've missed on the Top 25 and One, get thee there now.
No more ado—here’s how we see it, the 15 best non-BCS teams in college basketball as of Monday, Nov. 21, at noon ET.
1. Xavier (3-0). X remains atop this list until further notice. Complete team with weapons all over the floor and one of the five best players in the country in Tu Holloway. Next two: Georgia on Friday; at Vanderbilt next Monday.
2. Memphis (1-0). Tigers’ only game was that impressive win over Belmont. They tip off against Michigan in Maui in a few hours here. Wait-and-see. Maui could be huge for this team. Next two: Michigan on Monday; Duke or Tennessee on Tuesday.
3. Temple (3-1). Owls get to the top tier despite occupying a loss against Purdue. Fran Dunphy’s team has won two games in overtime. A good sign -- or early indicator that Temple’s got its issues? We’ll wait this out. Love Ramone Moore. Next two: at Bowling Green on Sunday; Dec. 3 vs. Central Michigan.
Ron Swanson Approves
4. Gonzaga (3-0). The Zags are here by way of reputation and simply not screwing up yet. Kevin Pangos is fun to watch and to say, but on the Notre Dame-Illinois-Michigan State stretch to see how good this team really is. Next two: Western Michigan on Saturday; Notre Dame next Wednesday.
5. Iona (2-1). I know Maryland’s down, but 89-63 over the Terps is awesome. Scott Machado is averaging an NCAA-best 13.5 assists per game right now. We were right to put him among the best point guards in the country. Iona’s going to become a darling pretty quickly if it keeps winning. Next two: St. Joseph’s on Wednesday; Long Island next Monday.
6. Saint Louis (3-0). Might even be a ranked team when the polls get sent out in a little while here. The dismantling of Washington Sunday night (77-64) is what skyrockets SLU into the Pyramid. Can’t have a letdown against the Eagles Thursday, though. Majerus’ teams have been known to do this. Next two: Boston College on Thursday; at Loyola Marymount next Tuesday .
7. UNLV (4-0). It’s really 3-0, since Vegas started with a game against non-D-I Grand Canyon. Mike Moser (left) is a guy we may have missed on in our Top 100 Players. Man is putting up 17 points and 14 boards per game right now. Next two: Cal Poly on Tuesday; Southern Cal on Friday.
8. San Diego State (5-1). Can you believe Steve Fisher’s team has already played six games? I initially underrated this team—OR DID I? SDSU’s only loss came to Baylor. Beating LBSU is nice, but who knows how good the USC win is; USC looks fairly dreadful. Next two: at Arizona on Wednesday; at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday .
9. Harvard (3-0). The mathletes battle and victory over MIT shouldn’t count, so the Crimson are truly a 2-0 club right now. Love the pieces here. Think Harvard has a chance to threaten to get as high as No. 3 in the Pyramid this season. Next two: Utah on Thursday; at Vermont on Dec. 1.
10. Belmont (2-2). For as well as it played against an overvalued Duke team, it looked lagged and outclassed by a (possibly) overvalued Memphis team. Towson and Middle Tennessee State aren’t noteworthy, but I’m keeping the faith. Rick Byrd’s team will get plenty of pub on the blog here, because the Bruins basically going into hibernation now; they won’t have any games on TV anymore. Next two: Kennesaw State on Dec. 1; Mercer on Dec. 3.
11. Long Beach State (2-1). Like I’ve said all along, that win over Pitt was great, but more about the Panthers than the 49ers. Such an insane schedule, I’m tempted to keep LBSU in the Pyramid out of respect alone. Casper Ware is averaging 24.7 points per game right now. Honestly, not sure if that dips below 23/game this year. Next two: Boise State on Tuesday; at Montana Saturday.
12. Creighton (4-0). I’m putting the Blue Birds here based off rumor and gossip. I won’t lie to you and say I’ve seen them play this year, but they are 4-0 and shooting the dimples off the ball (58.9 percent eFG% right now). Next two: Campell on Friday; at San Diego State next Wednesday.
13. Cleveland State (3-0). Got that really nice win over Vandy, which didn’t have Festus Ezeli, so take that into consideration. But I’m going with the Vikings here. Gary Waters’ team started well last year, too. Next two: at Kent State Tuesday; Boston University on Friday.
14. Kent State (2-0). And so we put Kent State just below Cleveland State, because beating Vanderbilt is more impressive than knocking off West Virginia, which is what Rob Senderoff’s team did last week. The Pyramid gets a clearer picture after 13 and 14 play each other tomorrow. Next two: Cleveland State on Tuesday; Louisiana Lafayette next Monday .
15. Wichita State (2-2). Giving Wichita State—one of my teams this year—a pass for losing against Alabama and Temple, two teams very likely to make the NCAA tournament. The Temple loss went to OT, and the Shockers didn’t get embarrassed by a ‘Bama team that looks better by the hour right now. Next two: UAB on Friday; Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 1.Photos: AP, Getty Images