Mid-Major Rankings: January 22

Mid-Major Rankings as of Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

1. Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 WCC)

The Zags lost a heartbreaker at Butler on Saturday, but thanks to Creighton’s loss at Wichita State the Bulldogs are still the top mid-major.

2. Creighton (17-2, 6-1 MVC)

The Bluejays also lost a close game on the road, at Wichita State. They do not rematch the Shockers until March 2, so don’t be surprised to see Doug McDermott and Co. rebound from the loss and go on a big winning streak.

3. Wichita State (17-2, 6-1 MVC)

The Shockers win over Creighton was their first over a Top-25 squad, and with it they moved into first place in the Missouri Valley.

4. Belmont (15-4, 6-0 OVC)

The Bruins have taken care of business in their first OVC season, winning their first six league games. Belmont’s status as the top team in the conference will be tested when it plays at Eastern Kentucky this weekend.

5. Bucknell (16-3, 3-0 Patriot)

Out of the Patriot League, the Bison continue to fly under the radar, but there is no sense in overlooking them. They are led by All-American candidate Mike Muscala, who is averaging 20.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game.

6. Middle Tennessee (16-4, 8-1 Sun Belt)

Six of Middle Tennessee’s eight Sun Belt wins have come by double figures. The Blue Raiders also have non-conference wins over UCF and Ole Miss.

7. St. Mary’s (15-4, 4-1 WCC)

Gonzaga is clearly the best team in the WCC, but St. Mary’s is a contender for second place in the conference. The Gaels lost by only five points at Gonzaga, and they already have a road win over BYU.

8. Murray State (14-4, 5-1 OVC)

Already, the Racers are running away with first place in the OVC West. After six games, they have a 2.5-game lead over Southeast Missouri State, which they already beat on the road.

9. Brigham Young (15-5, 5-1 WCC)

BYU is one point away from being unbeaten in the WCC, but a buzzer-beater loss to St. Mary’s still stings the Cougars and could come back to haunt them in late February/early March.

10. Stephen F. Austin (16-1, 7-0 Southland)

The Lumberjacks have made easy work of their Southland competition, with six of their seven wins coming by at least 11 points. Their only loss this season is in a close game at Texas A&M.

11. Louisiana Tech (16-3, 7-0 WAC)

Unlike some other top mid-majors, the Bulldogs have not dominated their conference competition. Despite an undefeated record, their average margin of victory is only 7.4 points.

12. South Dakota State (15-6, 6-2 Summit)

After losing two early conference games, the Jackrabbits have gotten back into the Summit League title race with wins in their last four outings. They can move into a tie for second place with a win over North Dakota State on Saturday.

13. Valparaiso (15-5, 5-1 Horizon)

The Crusaders were plagued with inconsistency during the first two months of the season, but recently they have been on fire. In their last two games, they’ve made huge statements by defeating Horizon League¬†contenders¬†Detroit and Wright State.

14. North Dakota State (16-4, 7-1 Summit)

The Bison’s eight-game winning streak ended with a loss at Western Illinois, and the road only gets tougher with their next game being at South Dakota State, which has won 25 straight home games.

15. Indiana State (12-6, 5-2 MVC)

Two years removed from a NCAA tournament appearance, Indiana State is once again contending for a MVC title. The Sycamores are currently in third place, one game behind Creighton and Wichita State.

16. Western Illinois (15-4, 7-1 Summit)

The Leathernecks defeated North Dakota State last week for their best win of the season thus far, and they did so by holding the Bison to 0.79 points per possession.

17. Lehigh (13-4, 3-0 Patriot)

Despite C.J. McCollum’s injury, Lehigh has started 3-0 in the Patriot League. On Wednesday night, the Mountain Hawks face Bucknell for first place in the conference.

18. Utah State (14-3, 5-2 WAC)

The Aggies’ status as a top mid-major is in question after a season-ending injury to Kyisean Reed and a long-term injury to Preston Medlin. The new-look squad will be tested against Louisiana Tech this weekend.

19. Santa Clara (14-6, 3-3 WCC)

Led by Kevin Foster, the WCC’s No. 3 scorer, Santa Clara is off to a modest 3-3 start in conference play. To stay in the title race, the Broncos will need wins over San Diego and Portland to finish the month.

20. Ohio (13-5, 4-0 MAC)

Here is Ohio’s record by month: November, 6-0; December, 2-5; January, 5-0.

21. Akron (13-4, 4-0 MAC)

Akron is currently keeping pace with Ohio for the MAC East title. The Zips have a potential MAC Player of the Year in Zeke Marshall, who is averaging 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game.

22. Eastern Kentucky (15-4, 5-1 OVC)

The Colonels’ only conference loss is by seven points at Belmont, and they have already defeated Murray State on the road.

23. Bryant (13-4, 6-0 NEC)

Bryant has been the biggest surprise in college basketball this season. The Bulldogs have not lost since December 10, and they are yet to lose in the NEC.

24. Evansville (11-8, 4-3 NEC)

The Aces looked like they belonged among the top mid-majors after defeating nationally-ranked Wichita State, but since then they have lost back-to-back games to Drake and Indiana State.

25. Weber State (13-3, 8-0 NEC)

The Wildcats lost Damian Lillard to the NBA, but they have returned strong and are currently tied with Montana for first place in the Big Sky.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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