Here are the latest mid-major power rankings for ESPN.com as voted upon by our national panel. I also vote in this poll, which does not include any teams from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West.
Another quick look at the panel:
Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) covers Horizon League basketball for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Richard Kilwien (@smcgaels) is the associate athletic director for external affairs at Saint Mary's College.
Dusty Luthy Shull (@DustyLuthyShull) covers Murray State athletics for The Paducah (Ky.) Sun.
John Templon (@nybuckets) writes about New York City and East Coast mid-major college basketball for his website, nycbuckets.com.
Thomas Chen (@thomasmchen) is in his third year as director of athletic communications at Stony Brook University.
Terry Vandrovec (@terryvandrovec) covers South Dakota State basketball for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Mid-Major Power Rankings: Week 8
Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 WCC) – Can the Zags earn a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance if they run the table in the WCC?
Belmont (19-4, 10-0 OVC) – The Bruins have scored 80 or more points in six of the last 10 games, all victories.
Middle Tennessee (20-4, 12-1 Sun Belt) – The Blue Raiders are ranked 25th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings.
Creighton (20-4, 9-3 MVC) – Wednesday’s loss to Indiana State only added to the confusion in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Saint Mary’s (19-4, 8-1 WCC) – The Gaels’ seven-game winning streak has been overshadowed by Gonzaga’s dominance.
Akron (18-4, 9-0 MAC) – The Zips have the nation’s longest winning streak (14 games).
Bucknell (19-4, 6-1 Patriot) – Tell your friends about Mike Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg).
BYU (18-6, 8-2 WCC) – The Cougars can prove that they’re more than just the third-best team in the WCC when they face Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in late February.
Wichita State (19-5, 8-4 MVC) – Snapped Southern Illinois’ six-game losing streak on Tuesday night. Huh?
Louisiana Tech (19-3, 10-0 WAC) – Still undefeated in conference play; still under the radar.
Indiana State (15-8, 8-4 MVC) – The Sycamores’ 19-point win over Creighton on Wednesday night created more havoc in the MVC.
Stephen F. Austin (18-2, 9-1 Southland) – The Lumberjacks have lost just one game since Dec. 5.
Lehigh (16-5, 6-1 Patriot) – The Mountain Hawks are still fighting for the Patriot League crown without C.J. McCollum.
Murray State (16-5, 7-2 OVC) – Racers can make a statement about their standing in the OVC with a win over Belmont Thursday night.
Team of the Week: Indiana State’s 76-57 win over No. 16 Creighton Thursday was significant for a Sycamores program that is just one game behind the Bluejays in the Missouri Valley Conference race now. All-American Doug McDermott was just 3-for-10 (eight points) in the game. Jake Odum led the Sycamores with 22 points.
Player of the Week: Southern’s Derick Beltran finished with 35 points (8-for-14 from beyond the arc), seven rebounds and three blocks in a 78-58 win over Jackson State on Monday. The 6-foot-4 guard was 12-for-21 from the field.
Montana’s defense (62.8 ppg allowed, No. 1 in the Big Sky) has carried the Grizzlies to a 12-0 start in conference play. Most surprising fact of the run? Big Sky standout Will Cherry is the third-leading scorer on the team.
All signs point to another Big West championship for Long Beach State. Dan Monson’s perennially challenging nonconference slate clearly prepared the 49ers for conference play. But they’ve also benefited from the addition of transfers Keala King (Arizona State), Tony Freeland (DePaul) and Dan Jennings (West Virginia). The trio has combined to average 28.4 ppg.
Western Illinois, North Dakota State and South Dakota State are tied atop the Summit League with 9-2 records. This will be a great race to track down the stretch. Nate Wolters has led the Jackrabbits to seven consecutive wins. He’s 9-for-18 from the 3-point line in the team’s last three games. If he continues to play this way, he’ll carry SDSU back to the top of the conference again. He’s that good.