Blog Entry

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

Posted on: February 6, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 1:43 pm

By Matt Norlander

The Super Bowl set all of us back a little bit. I got around to Power Pyramid sorting this morning, and here’s what we have: 15 teams that have pretty much separated themselves. Yeah, a few fringers and teams that just missed out are there, but not like the mainstays who’ve been paying rent for well over a month.

We also have a new top-ranked team.

Top Tier

1. Murray State (23-0). A Sentence: I think I’ll make the rule now that, if you get to February undefeated, you take the top spot(s) in the Pyramid. A Statistic:  Including Saint Mary’s, the average KenPom ranking of the teams Murray State has left on its schedule: 173. More and more I begin to doubt this team can get a 3 seed if it runs the table.  The Schedule: vs. Tennessee State, Thursday; vs. Austin Peay, Saturday.

2. Saint Mary’s (22-2). A Sentence: To put it is clearly as can be, I didn’t ever think SMC would reach these kind of heights this season.  A Statistic: The Gaels are not the biggest or tallest team, but they grab 73.7 percent of their defensive-rebound opportunities. I think that’s the biggest aspect to their success. Randy Bennett’s teams have never rebounded like this before. The Schedule: at Gonzaga, Thursday; vs. Santa Clara, Saturday.

3. UNLV (21-4). A Sentence:  When it lost to San Diego State a few weeks ago I didn’t flinch, but another L, this one at Wyoming, forces me to shift the playing pieces. A Statistic: Since the Mountain West is just an eight-team league now, it’s actually got a schedule where the second half mirrors the first. The league just finished the first half of conference play, so now everyone will go through the same eight-game cycle again, only switching home/away teams. The Schedule: vs. San Diego State, Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. Harvard (20-2). A Sentence: Ivy play comes to a head when the Crimson get a tough road game at Penn Friday, and that’s going to be the game that essentially decides of Harvard cruises to a tournament bid. A Statistic: It’s the defense that’s getting it done. Harvard’s not ranked in the top 25 in any tempo-free category. The Schedule: at Penn, Friday; at Princeton, Saturday.

5. Creighton (21-3). A Sentence: Creighton, like a lot of Pyramid teams lost this week, so it’s not really warranted to shake the cage too much. A Statistic: Creighton’s lack of urgency on defense is what came back to kill it in losing at Northern Iowa. The Panthers only turned the ball over on 3.3 percent of their possessions, and Creighton is ranked 336th in turnover percentage. The Schedule: at Evansville, Tuesday; vs. Wichita State, Saturday.

6. San Diego State (20-3). A Sentence: I feel a little dirty keeping SDSU this high after it barely got out alive playing at home against Boise State. A Statistic: Steve Fisher now has seven straight 20-win seasons at a place that was a miserable basketball school before he got there. What a coaching job. The Schedule: at UNLV, Saturday.

Temple has quietly taken control of an unpredictable Atlantic 10. (AP)

7. Temple (17-5). A Sentence: I’ve never wavered on Temple, who has no excuse not to run away with the Atlantic 10 now. A Statistic: I say that about the Owls because, to me, they’re clearly the class of the conference, yet the top eight teams are separated by two games. The A10 is so hairy it’s ridiculous, and I think unprecedented. The Schedule: vs. George Washington, Wednesday; vs. Xavier Saturday.

8. Wichita State (20-4). A Sentence: There aren’t two other games Saturday I’m looking forward to more than the one Wichita State is playing in. A Statistic: With an average experience of 2.5 years per player, Wichita State is the fifth-oldest team in the nation. The Schedule: vs. Northern Iowa, Wednesday; at Creighton, Saturday.

9. Oral Roberts (20-4). A Sentence: I didn’t expect ORU to win on the road at both of the Dakota States, so they take a little tumble in the Pyramid. A Statistic: For as good as it is on offense, ORU is hampered defensively. Effectively, teams make more than 50 percent of their shots against them, including 36 percent of 3-pointers. The Schedule: vs. IUPUI, Thursday; vs. Western Illinois, Saturday.

10. Gonzaga (18-4). A Sentence: Couldn’t beat BYU on the road last week, and now Saint Mary’s comes to town for what amounts as a reputation-staking game for Gonzaga. A Statistic: Robert Sacre now has a free-throw rate of 94, meaning he takes 94 percent of his field goal attempt total from the foul line. If you played a game and Robert Sacre shot 100 field goals, he’d also have 94 free throws. Easy enough, right? It’s the highest free-throw rate in the nation. The Schedule: vs. Saint Mary’s, Thursday; vs. Loyola Marymount, Saturday.

Base Blocks

11. New Mexico (19-4). A Sentence:  UNM has been blowing out teams but it also doesn’t have an impressive win in 2012 yet. A Statistic: This is, far and away, the best defensive team Steve Alford’s had at UNM. The team’s adjusted defensive efficiency is 87.7 points per 100 possessions. The only time Alford had a better team was the top-ranked squad at Iowa in 2005-06, when the 84.4 points per 100 possessions was best in the country. The Schedule: vs. Wyoming, Saturday.

12. Southern Miss (20-3). A Sentence: The Golden Eagles will be back in the NCAA tournament if they merely beat all the teams they’re supposed to beat from here on out. A Statistic: The most surprising factor to USM’s success is, this team shoots 47.1 from the field in effective field-goal percentage. That number is surprisingly low. The Schedule: at UAB, Wednesday; vs. Central Florida, Saturday.

13. Middle Tennessee State (21-4): A Sentence: Didn’t like how MTSU was thoroughly handled on the road against a decent Denver team, but I’m willing to let one loss be a cushion. A Statistic: This team has five games remaining on its schedule, by far the fewest of any Pyramid team. No BracketBusters hurts. The Schedule: vs. Western Kentucky, Thursday; vs. Arkansas Little Rock, Saturday.

14. Cleveland State (20-4). A Sentence: With Nevada losing and Gary Waters’ team continue to roll in the Horizon, it’s time to get the Vikings back in the mix. A Statistic: No Pyramid team is worse in any category than Cleveland State is at getting to the foul line. The team’s free-throw rate is 26.1 percent, third-worst in the country. The Schedule: vs. Valpo, Thursday; vs. Butler, Saturday.

15. Iona (19-5). A Sentence: The Gaels are so tempting because they’ve got guys who can score 30 with ease, dish 14 assists like it’s nothing and run so many teams out of the gym. A Statistic: Iona’s been able to win four games in a row for the first time in more than two months. The Schedule: at Loyola, Friday; vs. Marist, Sunday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦ Out this week: Nevada. In: Cleveland State.
♦ At 19-4, Ohio’s still right there.
♦ The 19-4 Wagner Seahawks are also getting closer and closer.

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: February 11, 2012 1:13 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

I agree they have a much better resume than Murray St.

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: February 11, 2012 12:00 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

How can you have Murray St. at the top. They should only have 1 loss. Their schedule is as soft as a babies bottom. A good NAIA team would have winning record against the likes of the teams they have played. Any other team here would have the same record if they played such an easy schedule. Please SOS of 265 is by far the lowest of any team in the pyramid.  Gonzaga, UNLV, Southern Miss, Temple, Wichita St all have much stronger SOS rating than any of the other teams. Get a clue. I can go out and beat my son 100 times out of a hundred, it doesn't make me the best player it just means I beat easy competition.

Since: Feb 9, 2012
Posted on: February 9, 2012 2:34 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

Well, this is pretty much a worthless exercise...No Memphis, SLU, or BYU makes this a fairly inane pyramid...

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:05 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

Memphis isn't there this year to date.  They've simply lost too many games...

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: February 8, 2012 7:44 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

max, while I agree wtih you about "where is Memphis"... let's not forget USM/UM were a split this season, so far...  not to mention, i think Matt doesn't consider Memphis a current 'mid-major', more like an already 'elite' team. (and they definitely wont' be included now that the move's been done)

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:17 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

New Mexico could be set more than most teams.  They are playing very well.  If they beat Wyoming, SDSU and UNLV, they'll go from a team who hasn't beaten anybody to a lock for the tourney and a decent ranking.

Since: Dec 28, 2007
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:30 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

I feel a little dirty keeping SDSU this high after it barely got out alive playing at home against Boise State.

So how filthy do you feel rankings UNLV higher when it took them OT to beat Boise State?

Since: Feb 7, 2012
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:14 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

I love the disrespect the Aztecs are getting. We finally lost in conference (one of the worst shooting outings in what, the last six years) and had anohter bad outing against Boise. UNLV actually shot the ball well in the loss to WYO. No way Harvard is better than SDSU.

Since: Feb 6, 2010
Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:42 pm

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

Thanks Matt, I don't know if the Racers are the best, but they certainly have earned the top spot. If I am the St. Mary's coach I am printing out the pyramid and placing it in the locker room. What more motivating do you need!

Since: Jan 22, 2008
Posted on: February 7, 2012 9:46 am

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 12

Southern Miss has a great team and I am happy to see a CUSA team listed.  However, where is Memphis?  Let's not forget Memphis beat Southern Miss.   

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