A weekly look at the mid-major scene
Here's a look around the mid-major scene at the teams and players you might not know much about (but should):
What you might've missedGonzaga is heating up in the West Coast Conference. The Bulldogs dominated Pepperdine 92-75 on Thursday. The Zags shot 62.5 percent from the floor for their best shooting performance in a conference game in three seasons. Robert Sacre was dynamic with a career-high 24 points, including an efficient 8-for-8 from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. The Bulldogs followed up that win with a 79-59 rout of Loyola Marymount on Saturday. They are getting better week by week.
What you shouldn't missMonday -- Charleston at Chattanooga: A Southern Conference classic as Andrew Goudelock and Omar Wattad are two of the SoCon's best players. Monday -- Fairfield at Rider: League leader Iona and contender St Peter's have their eyes on this matchup of championship contenders in the MAAC.
Who's hotIndiana State:
Terre Haute is all abuzz about their Sycamores after a heart-stopping, buzzer-beating tip-in by Carl Richard in a 61-59 win over Creighton on Sunday. It marked their fifth straight victory. The real key to their surprising run has been the all-around dynamic play of Odum, who is Adam Emmenecker with a 3-point shot (Emmenecker was the former walk-on at Drake who raised his game to Missouri Valley MVP status). Between Odum and Creighton freshman Doug McDermott, the Valley's future looks extremely bright.
Missouri State has won at Northern Iowa, at Wichita State and at Creighton, and topped that off with a well-earned win at Bradley on Sunday to improve to 7-0 in Missouri Valley play. Missouri State was 0-9 on the road two seasons ago and 1-8 on the road last season. Those numbers are now ancient history as Weems, Creekmore, Jermaine Mallett, Nafis Ricks and Adam Leonard have all bought into the system.
Maine sits atop the America East with a 4-1 mark. The Black Bears have never been to the NCAA tournament. They might get there this season. Ohio:
D.J. Cooper put on a show at Akron last week. Cooper had 13 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds in a 79-70 win on the Zips' home court Wednesday. The last player with at least eight rebounds and a 15-assist game was Maryland's Greivis Vasquez in 2008. Cooper has developed into one of the best guards in the country, and in his past eight games he's averaged 19.5 ppg, 9.75 apg, 5.1 rpg and 2.4 spg.
Long Beach State:
Long Beach State (11-8, 6-0 Big West) is riding a six-game winning streak. Casper Ware leads the way with 14.8 ppg and 5.7 apg.
Florida Atlantic has won six straight and eight of its past nine games. FAU and Denver, which is 5-0 in the Sun Belt West, will meet on Feb. 10 in Denver. Coastal Carolina:
Coastal Carolina has won 14 in a row but now faces a daunting four-game road trip in the Big South. Valparaiso:
Who is in first in the Horizon League? It's not Butler or Cleveland State or Detroit or Wright State. Coach Homer Drew's Valparaiso team is poised to threaten all of the above for the Horizon championship. Cory Johnson and Brandon Wood give the Crusaders two top scorers who are highly skilled and have learned the value of team defense.
Texas Southern is 4-0 in the SWAC after opening the season 2-9 in nonconference play. The Tigers beat Jackson State 66-62 in a battle of SWAC unbeatens on Saturday. Travele Jones is putting up player-of-the-year numbers.
Keith Benson continues to dominate with a steady diet of double-doubles.
Who's notCentenary: Centenary is the only team in the country without a win. The Gentlemen play at Louisiana Lafayette on Wednesday.
Tussle at the topTuesday -- Maine at Vermont: -- This is a huge game in the America East. Maine (10-7, 4-1 AE) won 19 games last season and has won 10 games so far this season; the Black Bears are led by senior forward Troy Barnies. The Catamounts (12-4, 3-1 AE) need to hold serve at home.
Mark Adams is a contributor to ESPN.com. He is a game analyst on the ESPN family of networks and was a college basketball coach for 17 years, including a head-coaching stint at Central Connecticut State and assistant jobs at Idaho State and Washington State. For more of his insight, check out www.enthusiadams.com