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 7
Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0 WCC) -- Can any team in the West Coast Conference stop the Zags right now?
Creighton (19-3, 8-2 MVC) -- The Bluejays are locked into a three-team battle for the MVC title.
Belmont (17-4, 8-0 OVC) -- The Bruins are the best in the OVC, and they’re undefeated in 2013.
Wichita State (19-3, 8-2 MVC) -- Tuesday home loss to Indiana State was proof that MVC is legit.
Saint Mary’s (18-4, 7-1 WCC) -- The Gaels have won six consecutive games.
Middle Tennessee (18-4, 10-1 Sun Belt) -- The Blue Raiders are 28th in the nation in defensive efficiency.
Bucknell (18-4, 5-1 Patriot) -- Hit a shot with 0.8 of a second to go to beat American on Wednesday.
BYU (16-6, 6-2 WCC) -- Tyler Haws (20.5 ppg) is one of the best players in the country right now.
Akron (16-4, 6-0 MAC) -- The Zips have won 12 consecutive games and will face Ohio on Saturday.
Indiana State (14-7, 7-3 MVC) -- The Sycamores crashed the MVC race with upset at Wichita State.
Lehigh (15-5, 5-1 Patriot) -- The same team that won at Bucknell lost to Lafayette by 21 at home?
Ohio (15-5, 6-0 MAC) -- Undefeated Ohio at undefeated Akron on Saturday. You should watch.
Stephen F. Austin (17-2, 8-1 Southland) -- Suffered first loss in nearly two months on Saturday.
Louisiana Tech (18-3, 9-0 WAC) -- The Bulldogs are the dominant team in the WAC these days.
Murray State (15-5, 6-2 OVC) -- The Racers hit 22 percent of their 3s in a loss to Jacksonville State.
Team of the Week: Indiana State changed the Missouri Valley Conference championship race with its 68-55 win at No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday night. Consider the odds that were against the Sycamores. They hadn’t defeated the Shockers on the road in nearly a decade. Wichita State had won 19 in a row at home. Creighton couldn’t win there. But the Sycamores played tough in a hostile venue. They limited the Shockers to 27 percent shooting from the field. They attacked Carl Hall, who dealt with foul trouble all night. The bottom line is that Indiana State enhanced its at-large hopes and changed the MVC title hunt with one thrilling performance.
Player of the Week: Eastern Washington freshman Venky Jois scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, recorded 5 assists and blocked 3 shots in his team’s 76-65 win over Portland State on Monday. It was the 6-foot-7 Australian’s ninth double-double this season, the top mark for all freshmen.
Montana’s Will Cherry missed the start of the season with a foot injury. He needed a few games to shake the rust off, but he’s been a critical leader for a Montana team that’s 10-0 in the Big Sky Conference. Against Weber State on Saturday, Cherry finished with 28 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in a 76-74 victory for the Grizzlies.
Wright State won its first four Horizon League games. But the Raiders have gone 1-4 since. The good news for the program is that the other Horizon League contenders have failed to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Valpo lost at Youngstown State on Wednesday. Detroit has won two in a row but just three of its past six. Both UW-Green Bay and Youngstown State have won five league games. This race is far from over.
What happened to Bucknell? Once C.J. McCollum of Lehigh suffered a serious foot injury, most figured the Bison would dominate the Patriot League. But that hasn’t happened. Last week, they lost to Lehigh (without McCollum) at home. And on Wednesday night, Mike Muscala’s bucket with 0.8 of a second to play saved them against American. Is this the same team that beat Purdue on the road and nearly upset Missouri in Columbia? Doesn’t seem like it.
If I had to pick the Summit League champ right now, I’d probably go with Western Illinois. The Leathernecks lead the conference with a 38.4 percent mark from the 3-point line. But watch out for South Dakota State. After a few shaky weeks, the Jackrabbits finally look like the team that beat New Mexico on the road last month. Nate Wolters has scored 23 points or more in six of the team’s past nine games. Unless Taylor Braun makes an early return from a foot injury, I don’t see North Dakota State finishing higher than third. This is a good race to track in the coming weeks.
Now let’s look at the top upcoming mid-major matchup: Saturday's matchup between Akron and Ohio.