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 (23-2, 10-0 WCC) – Zags face their last true conference test in a road matchup at Saint Mary’s on Thursday night.
Saint Mary’s (21-4, 10-1 WCC) – The Gaels will have a lot to prove when they face the WCC kings tonight.
Middle Tennessee State (22-4, 14-1 Sun Belt) – The Blue Raiders are ranked 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy, and they’ve won 11 in a row.
Belmont (20-5, 11-1 OVC) – Saturday loss at Murray State damaged Bruins’ (RPI: 24) at-large potential.
Akron (20-4, 11-0 MAC) – The Zips are still winning. Their 16-game winning streak is the nation’s longest.
Bucknell (21-4, 8-1 Patriot League) – The Bison’s 46.1 percent clip from the field is 47th nationally.
Wichita State (21-5, 10-4 MVC) – The Shockers’ dreams of an at-large bid have certainly been affected by a stretch that has included three losses in five games.
Creighton (20-6, 9-5 MVC) – The Bluejays are a mystery. Just a few weeks ago, they were the kings of the conference, but they’re riding a three-game losing streak right now.
Stephen F. Austin (20-2, 11-1 Southland) – The Lumberjacks are ranked third in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy.
Louisiana Tech (21-3, 12-0 WAC) – The Bulldogs have not lost a game since Dec. 12.
Lehigh (18-5, 8-1 Patriot League) – On Monday, the Mountain Hawks will host Bucknell in a matchup that could determine the Patriot League’s regular-season title.
Murray State (18-5, 9-2 OVC) – The Racers have won three in a row, a stretch that includes a five-point win against Belmont. Isaiah Canaan is averaging 21.0 PPG.
Ohio (18-6, 9-1 MAC) – The Bobcats have won three in a row since suffering a Feb. 2 loss at Akron.
Valparaiso (20-6, 10-2 Horizon League) – The Crusaders have gradually separated themselves from the rest of the league with four consecutive wins. They’ll host Detroit (second place in the Horizon League) on Saturday.
BYU (18-8, 8-4 WCC) – After losing three of their past six, the Cougars have probably played their way out of the WCC title chase.
Team of the Week: Murray State enters Thursday night’s game at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville riding a three-game winning streak. That run includes a 79-74 victory against Belmont on Feb. 7. The Racers possess the Ohio Valley Conference’s top scoring defense (61.5 PPG allowed in conference play). And Canaan (21.0 PPG) is ninth nationally in scoring. Although Belmont has a better record, Murray State’s win against the Bruins suggests that the Racers are not only the kings of the West Division, but also kings of the entire league.
Player of the Week: Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael is the catalyst for the Redbirds’ surge up the Missouri Valley Conference standings. He finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks in a 79-59 win against Bradley on Wednesday night. He had 16 points, 6 rebounds and a pair of steals when Illinois State upset Creighton in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday with a 75-72 win. The Redbirds have won seven of their past eight. With Carmichael playing like this, Illinois State can outplay any team in the league.
The Summit League title chase added another contender over the weekend when Oakland defeated South Dakota State 88-83 on Saturday. It was the fifth consecutive with for the Golden Grizzlies (8-4), who are two games behind first-place Western Illinois (10-2) with five games remaining on their conference slate.
Remember when the Missouri Valley Conference looked like a three-bid league? Doesn’t look that way right now. The recent chaos at the top of the league has threatened its status as a potential multiple-bid conference. Based on RPI and their shaky resumes, Wichita State (41), Creighton (55) and Indiana State (58) are all bubble teams right now.
Montana established a Big Sky record by earning its 25th consecutive conference win, a 78-58 victory against North Dakota on Saturday. The Grizzlies have won 14 consecutive games. Now let’s look at the top upcoming mid-major matchup: Saturday's game between Wichita State and Illinois State.