Week 2 Mid-Major Top 15 Power Rankings

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Mid-Major Top 15

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James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

The first full week of college basketball has given us a brief sample of teams across the country, and rather than evaluating the Indianas and Kentuckys let’s take a look at the top 15 mid-majors.

These power rankings are not solely based on a team’s performance because at this point plenty of teams that will finish around .500 for the year are off to hot starts. It wouldn’t make sense to include 3-0 William & Mary while Drexel sits on the periphery. So, as the above might imply, these rankings seek a balance between performance to date and expected performance.

In the preseason, a clear big two topped the charts. Creighton returned every player save Antoine Young from last year’s team, and Gonzaga had a solid core of returners as well.

Both teams are off to hot starts, with the Bulldogs’ being slightly more impressive.

But early on, the rankings are rather volatile. A few teams that narrowly missed the cut of my preseason rankings have made huge leaps into the top 10 while four teams who cracked the list — North Texas (preseason No. 3), LIU (preseason No. 11) Detroit (preseason No. 14) and Long Beach State (preseason No. 15) — now find themselves on the outside looking in.

For clarification, any team that doesn’t belong to the Atlantic-10, C-USA, MWC or a BCS conference counts as a mid-major.

Player of the Week: Kevin Foster, who averaged 28.5 points, seven assists and five steals in wins over Simpson and St. Louis.

Team of the Week: Bucknell, who beat Purdue and George Mason en route to a 5-0 start.

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15. Cal State Northridge Matadors

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Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: NR

Record: 6-0

Resume-building wins: None

Cal State Northridge may lack a resume-building win, but a 6-0 start cannot be overlooked with the Matadors averaging 82.2 points per game. Siena might be the best team they’ve beaten, and three of their wins have come by an average of four points. But take note of Cal State Northridge.

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14. Santa Clara Broncos

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Phil Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: NR

Record: 2-0

Resume-building wins: at St. Louis

Santa Clara is off to a hot start, ranking No. 8 nationally with 90 points per game. Kevin Foster has been scorching the nets and the return of Marc Trasolini has given the Broncos a boost.

St. Louis presented a daunting task in Santa Clara’s first game against a Division I opponent, but the Broncos dismissed the Bilikens by double-digits on the road.

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13. Valparaiso Crusaders

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Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 13

Record: 3-1

Resume-building wins: None

With its top two players returning, Valpo is off to a solid start. The Crusaders lost by two at Nebraska and beat Kent State in overtime after opening the year with routs of Georgia Southern and Northern Illinois.

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12. Drexel Dragons

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Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 4

Record: 1-2

Resume-building wins: None

Drexel is two overtime losses away from a perfect start. With such high expectations entering the season, the Dragons could not fall out of the top 15 despite their 1-2 start.

One bright note for Drexel: Chris Fouch is averaging 16.7 points per game while shooting 48 percent from three.

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11. Brigham Young Cougars

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Kelley L. Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 9

Record: 2-2

Resume-building wins: None

BYU squandered its opportunities to earn resume-building wins over Florida State and Notre Dame this week, but losing to two preseason top 25 teams won’t knock the Cougars out of the top 15.

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10. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

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Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 7

Record: 3-2

Resume-building wins: Marshall (neutral)

South Dakota State is very close to being 5-0, but the Jackrabbits lost by three to Alabama and Hofstra. As expected, Nate Wolters is off to a hot start.

South Dakota State should win its next three games with ease as a Dec. 4 date at Minnesota approaches.

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9. Lehigh Mountainhawks

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Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 8

Record: 1-2

Resume-building wins: None

Lehigh hasn’t played in anything other than a rout this year, and unfortunately for the Mountainhawks, they’ve ended up on the wrong side twice. But the losses came to Baylor and Pitt, so you can’t really knock Lehigh.

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8. Davidson Wildcats

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Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 5

Record: 1-2

Resume-building wins: None

Still searching for its first win over a Division I opponent, Davidson couldn’t hold on at New Mexico and fell at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. But the Wildcats did show their potential as they took the Lobos to the wire at the Pit.

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7. Illinois State Redbirds

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: NR

Record: 3-0

Resume-building wins: at Drexel

Averaging 93 points per game, Illinois State ranks No. 4 nationally in scoring. The Redbirds thrashed Santa Barbara and Delaware State and picked up what could be a crucial win down the road, beating Drexel in Philadelphia.

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6. Ohio Bobcats

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Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 12

Record: 3-0

Resume-building wins: None

Ohio doesn’t have a quality win yet, but who cares? The Bobcats are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 30 points.

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5. Bucknell Bison

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Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: NR

Record: 5-0

Resume-building wins: at Purdue, vs. George Mason

Winning at Purdue is never easy, even in a down year for the Boilermakers, and Bucknell went in and came out victorious. Mike Muscala has been fantastic so far. As expected, he’s leading the Bison in scoring and rebounding, but he also has a team-best 2.5 assists per game.

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4. Murray State Racers

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Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 10

Record: 3-1

Resume-building wins: Auburn (neutral), St. John’s (neutral)

Murray State won’t roll into 2013 with an undefeated mark, but the Racers cannot be disappointed in their start. Even though Auburn and St. John’s won’t be at the top of their respective BCS conferences, Murray State dominated each — Auburn from start to finish, St. John’s in the last 23 minutes.

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3. St. Mary's Gaels

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Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 6

Record: 3-0

Resume-building wins: None

A Thursday tilt with Drexel is the Gaels’ only game this week. St Mary’s has played very well early on, with two routs and a nine-point victory at Utah State, always a difficult place to play.

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2. Creighton Blue Jays

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 1

Record: 3-0

Resume-building wins: vs. North Texas

North Texas dropped from these rankings, but beating the Mean Green by 20 will definitely look good on Creighton’s resume in a few months. Doug McDermott and the Blue Jays haven’t boasted as high profile of an offense. However, they’re still averaging 74 points per game and beat Presbyterian 87-58.

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1. Gonzaga Bulldogs

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Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason rank: 2

Record: 3-0

Resume-building wins: vs. West Virginia

36.6. That’s Gonzaga’s average margin of victory through three games. The Bulldogs have beaten up on Southern Utah and South Dakota, but they proved they’re the real deal with an 84-50 rout of West Virginia.

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