By Jesse Kramer
1. Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC)
No one can touch Gonzaga right now. This past week, the Bulldogs dominated Santa Clara and San Diego with an average margin of victory of 37 points.
If the Zags win their final two games in the regular season and then win the WCC tournament, they should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
2. Middle Tennessee (25-4, 17-1 Sun Belt)
Middle Tennessee is also dominating its conference, the Sun Belt. The Blue Raiders blew out South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt tournament.
3. St. Mary’s (24-5, 12-2 WCC)
St. Mary’s finally got the key win it needed for its NCAA tournament résumé. The Gaels defeated Creighton in their BracketBuster matchup, and their postseason chances will be in good shape if they win their final two games against Pepperdine and Santa Clara.
4. Belmont (22-6, 12-2 OVC)
The Bruins picked up a solid win over Ohio in their BracketBuster. Although Ohio has been a bit of a disappointment this season, this was still Belmont’s sixth win against the RPI Top 100. Don’t count the Bruins out of an at-large bid yet.
5. Wichita State (24-5, 12-4 MVC)
The Shockers have put their early February struggles behind with wins in their last five games. They swept their tough, three-game stretch with wins at Illinois State and Indiana State and a home victory over the Detroit Titans. If Wichita State wins at Creighton in the final game of the regular season, it will win the Missouri Valley regular season title.
6. Akron (22-4, 12-0 MAC)
As dominating as Akron has been, a loss at Ohio this week would drop the Zips back into a tie for first place. However, with a win their magic number for the No. 1 seed in the MAC tournament would drop to one.
7. Louisiana Tech (24-3, 14-0 WAC)
The Bulldogs have not lost since December 12. They will finish the season with a tough stretch, as they still have to play Utah State at home and then New Mexico State and Denver on the road.
8. Creighton (22-7, 11-5 MVC)
After losing to St. Mary’s during BracketBuster weekend, Creighton has now been defeated in four of its last six games. It’s hard to imagine the Bluejays not making the NCAA tournament this year, but they need a strong finish to avoid falling to the bubble.
9. Bucknell (23-5, 10-2 Patriot)
By winning at Lehigh last week, Bucknell moved into sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. Lehigh limited star forward Mike Muscala offensively, but Bryson Johnson gave the Bison the offensive boost they needed with 19 points and five assists. With a win over either American or Navy this week, the Bison would earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
10. Valparaiso (22-7, 11-3 Horizon)
Valparaiso easily defeated Eastern Kentucky in its BracketBuster, and now the Crusaders return to conference play. They lead second-place Detroit by one game with two games left in the regular season.
11. Stephen F. Austin (23-3, 13-2 Southland)
The Lumberjacks won at Long Beach State in their BracketBuster on Friday night. The Jacks’ balanced scoring makes them a legitimate threat for a high seed in March. Four players scored at least 12 points in the win over the 49ers.
12. Davidson (21-7, 15-1 SoCon)
The Wildcats needed overtime on Saturday, but they defeated Montana, 93-87. Jake Cohen led the way with 28 points and four assists, and De’Mon Brooks added 18 points and eight rebounds.
Regardless of what happens in the final two games of the regular season, Davidson will be the No. 1 seed in the SoCon tournament.
13. Ohio (20-7, 11-1 MAC)
Ohio finally had a chance to pick up a good win, and the Bobcats failed yet again, losing at Belmont by 19 points. They will get their final chance at a quality win on Wednesday against Akron.
14. Detroit (18-10, 10-4 Horizon)
Detroit could not keep up with Wichita State’s offense on Saturday. The Titans allowed the Shockers to score 94 points to their 79, but Ray McCallum did have a good day on the national stage with 29 points and four assists.
15. New Mexico State (19-9, 12-3 WAC)
The Aggies defeated UTEP in a non-conference matchup, but on Saturday they will return to more important work with a game at Denver. New Mexico State currently sits in third place, one game behind the Pioneers.
16. Denver (18-8, 13-2 WAC)
Denver played a very tough non-conference schedule that led to a lot of losses, but the Pioneers have been fantastic in January and February. Their only conference losses came at Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, and this weekend they went on the road and defeated a very hot Northern Iowa team.
17. South Dakota State (12-3, 21-9 Summit)
The end of February has not been kind to South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits lost at Cal State Bakersfield in double overtime on Wednesday despite Nate Wolters’ near-triple-double (32 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists), and then they blew a second half lead against Murray State and lost to the Racers by 11. Still, all the Jacks need to do to earn the Summit League tournament’s No. 1 seed is beat Nebraska Omaha on Thursday.
18. Stony Brook (21-6, 12-2 A-East)
Stony Brook has won four straight games in the American East, all by double figures. With a win at Boston University on Thursday, the Seawolves would clinch the regular season conference title outright.
19. Brigham Young (20-9, 9-5 WCC)
Brigham Young picked up a solid win over Utah State but then lost to St. Mary’s. The Cougars can now finish no better than third in the WCC, but they will have a shot at first-place Gonzaga on Thursday night.
20. Montana (19-6, 15-1 Big Sky)
Montana lost at Davidson on Saturday, but the bigger issue is that Will Cherry aggravated a right foot injury that kept him out of basically all of non-conference play. Without Cherry, the load would fall on junior Kareem Jamar, who had 28 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against Davidson.
21. Indiana State (17-11, 9-7 MVC)
Indiana State ended its three-game losing streak with a last-second win over Iona in its BracketBuster. If the Sycamores want their name to remain in the at-large conversation, they must beat Drake and Evansville this week.
22. Murray State (20-7, 10-4 OVC)
The Racers defeated South Dakota State behind Isaiah Canaan’s 22 points and five assists. They host Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee-Martin, which both have sub-.500 records, to finish the regular season.
23. Northern Iowa (17-12, 10-6 MVC)
The Panthers’ six-game winning streak ended with a BracketBuster loss to Denver, 63-57. It was their eighth loss by seven points or fewer.
24. Weber State (20-5, 14-2 Big Sky)
Weber State has won seven games in a row, including victories over Montana and Oral Roberts. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Wildcats are one game behind Montana for first place in the Big Sky.
25. Loyola-MD (20-9, 11-5 MAAC)
The Greyhounds are back in the rankings this week after a BracketBuster win at Tennessee State. The Greyhounds are one game out of first place in the MAAC, and they finish the regular season with games against Iona and Manhattan.
Other teams considered: Western Illinois, Lehigh, Florida Gulf Coast, Santa Clara, Eastern Kentucky, Niagara, Harvard