Blog Entry

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:02 pm

By Matt Norlander

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.

This feature serves as a complement to the weekly Top 25 and One, which you can read right here.

No more ado — here’s how we see it, the 15 best non-BCS teams in college basketball as of Monday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m ET.

Top Tier

1. Xavier (6-0). A Sentence: There’s a considerable difference between X and everyone else, when you take into account the Muskies’ wins over Vandy on the road and the comeback W against Purdue last week. A Statistic: The only major flaw with Chris Mack’s team right now is the free-throw shooting. X is under 60 percent as a team. Will get them eventually. The Schedule: at Butler Wednesday; vs. Cincinnati Saturday.

2. Iona (6-1). A Sentence: Saw this team in person a week ago, and no joke, they look incredibly dangerous for pretty much any team outside of the top five right now. A Statistic: The Gaels are scoring 1.14 points per possession, which is definitely good, but a little less than I expected from the highest-scoring and highest assisting team in the country. The Schedule: at Denver Wednesday; at Marshall Sunday.

3. Harvard (8-0). A Sentence: I’d love for Harvard to justify me putting them this high with a win Thursday, but they merely need to keep it compelling. A Statistic: The Crimson have been helped by a “defensive” stat they have such little control over: free throw defense. Opponents are shooting an NCAA-worst 54 percent from the line against them. The Schedule: at Connecticut Thursday; at Boston University Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. UNLV (8-1): A Sentence: Beating North Carolina, then losing on the road at a Power Pyramid Wichita State team equates to a UNLV team smelling the Pyramid’s ceiling. A Statistic: 52.2 was the percentage from 3-point range the Shockers put up against UNLV over the weekend. It was the first time this season Vegas has had a team shoot better than 50 percent against them from downtown. The Schedule: vs. NAIA Cal State San Marcos Wednesday; at Wisconsin Saturday.

5. Creighton (7-0). A Sentence: Greg McDermott’s team is playing so well because his son is on his way to an Adam Morrison-like year in terms of offense. A Statistic: Remarkably, the Jay’s effective field goal percentage has rise, up to a still-tops-in-the-U.S. 60.9 clip. The Schedule: at St. Joseph’s Saturday.

6. Gonzaga (5-1). A Sentence: I’m not quite sure what Gonzaga will become, but I do know they’ve got plenty of chances, plenty of talent, and believe they’d beat everyone below them here on a neutral floor more times than not (as of today). A Statistic: The game, and loss, to Illinois was the first road game of Gonzaga’s season. Last year, the team was 7-5 on the road, and didn’t get above .500 in that category until the end of the year. More road woes coming this year?. The Schedule: vs. Michigan State Saturday.

7. Saint Louis (7-1). A Sentence: Have been impressed with Saint Louis so far, but for reasons I won’t expound upon here and now, I still remain wary. A Statistic: Saint Louis is in the shorter half of D-I teams, and they’re rebounding like it. The 24.2 offensive rebounding percentage will eventually need to come up, unless the team’s able to keep the eFG% above 58 (which it is now). The Schedule: vs. Vermont Wednesday; vs. D-II Illinois Springfield Saturday.

8. San Diego State (8-2). A Sentence: Interesting about this team right now: the numbers don’t love it, but boy have I and so many others been impressed. A Statistic: Despite the strong start, Aztecs are 58 in KenPom. Where’s the love? BYU is 21! The Schedule: at San Diego Wednesday.

9. Memphis (4-2). A Sentence: Tigers had a couple of patsies last weeks, so they fall slightly be default. A Statistic: Just take notice of the team above and the team right here. One’s played 10 games, the other six. There is a lot of room to flex between groups right now; we’ll have a better sense of the Pyramid’s hierarchy in about three weeks. The Schedule: at Miami Tuesday; vs. Murray State Sunday.

10. Belmont (5-2). A Sentence: I’ll take this moment this week to say: Unless Belmont starts ripping up opponents by 20-plus on the regular, they’re just going to be a really good, nondescript team off most non-Pyramid radars until late February. A Statistic: Last year, Belmont was one of the best teams in the country at turning you over. This year, it’s the opposite. The 14.1 offensive turnover rate is third-best nationally. The Schedulevs. Tennessee State Tuesday.

Base Blocks

11. Northern Iowa (7-1). A Sentence: The Valley is going to be a multi-bid league this year, and UNI will be making the NCAAs — yes, I’m saying that on Dec. 5. A Statistic: The Panthers’ D, giving up .93 points per possession, hasn’t been given enough love so far. Let’s see if this team can become as good on the D end as the 2009-10 group. The Schedule: vs. Iowa Tuesday; vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday.

12. Temple (4-2). A Sentence: Pretty sure Owls are in a tough spot this week; they’ll most definitely need to go 2-0 to remain inside the Pyramid’s walls on Dec. 12. A Statistic: Owls senior Michael Eric is currently taking more of your misses than anyone else. He possess a 34.6 success rate at grabbing defensive boards. The Schedule: at Toledo Wednesday; vs. Villanova Saturday.

13. New Mexico (6-2). A Sentence: Sophomore guard Kendall Williams has turned into a better player than I’d expected and is the reason UNM keeps a logo on this graphic. A Statistic: 23-4. That was the opening run to start Saturday’s game against Missouri State, which was in the Power Pyramid last Monday. The Schedule: at USC Saturday.

14. Wichita State (5-2). A Sentence: Valley swaps one team for another, as the Shockers replace Missouri State this week, keeping three teams in the rankings. A Statistic: In the out-of-nowhere performance to date this season, senior Joe Ragland scored 31 in the 89-70 WSU W over UNLV, thanks to eight 3s. Ragland boosted his PPG average to 11.9. The Schedule: at Tulsa Wednesday; vs. Utah State Saturday.

15. Murray State (9-0). A Sentence: Small surprise of the season: Billy Kennedy’s former team has started out terrifically without him. A Statistic: Three of the nine wins have been against foes outside of D-I, so that’s a big caveat. Wins over So. Miss and Dayton were convincing, though, so I’ve got the heart to put them in, just ahead of Tulane and College of Charleston. The Schedule: at Memphis Sunday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦  Out this week: Missouri State, Marshall. In: Murray State, Wichita State.
♦  Marshall gets its chance to get back into the Pyramid if it beats Syracuse this week, and I think Murray State’s visit could be short-lived due to the Memphis matchup forthcoming.
♦  I know you’re unbeaten, Tulane. If you get through next Sunday with wins over Wofford and Jacksonville State — even though those aren’t great wins — I’ll get you in with an 11-0 D-I record.
♦ Brigham Young is the only highly ranked KenPom team not to make the Pyramid. Let’s see what happens Dec. 17 against Baylor and then we’ll assess.
♦ I considered ranking Northwestern until it got mollywhopped by Baylor. (I keed!)


Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:09 am

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Where's Cleveland State?

Since: Nov 16, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:42 am

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Nolander, I love these rankings! Can't wait till next week. Parrish was hard on Tulane, it seems Nolander is a little soft on them, I can't figure Tulane out right now. Murray state is the biggest surprise in terms of mid major teams this year. 

Since: Jan 18, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:10 am

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

How can you give that stat on Michael Eric and not say that he is out injured for a month?

Since: Sep 18, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:14 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Yes, I'd like to see that matchup too, and in fact Creighton and Xavier recently compelted a muti-year deal.  As an X fan, I've been impressed with just who the Muskies have chosen to schedule this season -- and wow is that great to say -- CHOSEN to schedule.  It's taken a lot of years to get to the point where X can schedule home and home series against a whole lot of teams - both power 6 tams and other elite MINOS teams (MINOs = mid-majors in name only - Eamonn Brennan's term for conferences 7 through 11 or 12.)  So who's on the X non-conference docket this year?  Try Vandy, Purdue, Butler, Gonzaga, Cincy, Miami Ohio, Lng Beach State, Oral Roberts, and Memphis.   Cincy and Miami are traditional rivalry games, Memphis a game against one of the other traditional powers outside the Power 6, and LBSU a nice fit for a tournament opening round.  The others are all games against adademically higer quality schools with long traditions of basketball success in various conferences.  Creighton really does fit with this group, but hey, you can't get games with them all in the same year.  Hopefully, Creighton and X will hook up again -- even possibly as annual rivals in the same conference -- if conferenece realignment plays out over the next couple of years according to some possible scenarios.  I also think most of the Big East"basketball-only" schools are good fits for X, as are a bunch of Horizon and CAA schools.   It'll be interesting to see how it all develops.

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:53 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Disappointed that Indiana State wasn't anywhere on this list. Indiana State is having a solid season, and has played tough with some very good teams. Once again, Indiana State will prove just how good they are when conference time rolls around. Go Trees!

Since: Dec 5, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:51 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Love reading this every week, but it's bothering me that the Belmont logo you're using is very outdated!

Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:00 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Xavier and Creighton used to play regularly but haven't for a few years now. Would have loved to see a game between the two schools this year.
Great idea Drew!  A late night bracket buster at CenturyLink Center (aka Qwest Center) would bring the house down!  ESPN national broadcast for sure!!!

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:57 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

How is Northern Iowa on here instead of Indiana State from the MVC?  I'm guessing whoever wrote this hasn't seen them play and is picking UNI because of their reputation.

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:45 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 3

Xavier and Creighton used to play regularly but haven't for a few years now. Would have loved to see a game between the two schools this year.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or