Player of the Week
Gerardo Suero, Albany, SG, Junior, 6-4 205 lbs.
The Dominican Republic-born Suero has led Albany to a 10-6 record on the season, including three consecutive victories. For the season, Suero is posting a respectable stat line of 22.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.1 SPG and shooting 50.7 FG%, 35.3 3P%, and 81.7 FT%. In Albany’s most recent game against a clearly inferior opponent, UMBC (2-12), Suero finished with 22 points (8-14 shooting) and 7 rebounds. Prior to that game, Suero posted 24 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists against another inferior opponent, Hartford (1-13). Earlier in the season against Syracuse (currently ranked #1 in the nation), Suero finished with 31 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Temple Owls (10-3)
Temple beat #3 Duke this week, 78-73, led by Khalif Wyatt’s 22 points (8-12 shooting, 3-5 three-pointers), 4 rebounds and 5 steals. The Owls played efficiently on offense (56.4 FG%) and held Duke’s freshman phenom, Austin Rivers, to 12 points on 3-11 shooting. Temple has won four consecutive games and currently ranks 27th in the nation for APG (15.8). Although this team does not dominate games, it shows efficient offensive strategies and plays solid defense.
Xavier Musketeers (9-5)
The season is still semi-young, but Xavier has been a disappointment through its first 14 games with a 9-5 record. The brawl with Cincinnati is a “black mark” on the Musketeers’ season thus far, and losing five of their last six games does not bode well for the Musketeers either. On Tuesday, Xavier surprisingly lost to La Salle, 80-70, and had 14 turnovers compared to La Salle’s 7 turnovers. In its previous game against Gonzaga, Xavier shot 16.7 percent from three-point land, while Gonzaga shot 42.1 percent.
Top 25 Teams
17. UNLV (16-2)
UNLV drummed CS-Bakersfield, 89-57, on Thursday and won on the road against Hawaii, 74-69 on December 31. UNLV’s next game will be a pivotal conference matchup with #24 San Diego State (13-2) on Saturday, January 14.
20. Murray State (13-0)
The Racers further legitimized themselves as the “cream of the crop” in the Ohio Valley Conference this past week by beating Eastern Kentucky (9-7), 76-67.
22. Harvard (12-2)
The Crimson lost to a mediocre Fordham (7-7) squad on the road this week, 60-54. Fordham’s Chris Gaston proved to be a tough matchup for Harvard, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. In that matchup, Harvard shot 36.4 percent from the field, while Fordham shot 48.8 percent.
24. San Diego State (13-2)
The Aztecs crushed San Diego Christian, 83-52, on Thursday, and will face Chicago State (0-14) next Tuesday. San Diego State may have faced the weakest schedule among Top 25 teams over the past month. The team has not played a “tough” opponent since December 4, when they played then 23rd-ranked California.
25. Gonzaga (12-2)
Gonzaga beat Pepperdine (7-7) in decisive fashion Thursday, 73-45. Prior to that game, Gonzaga beat Xavier (9-5), at Xavier. If Xavier manages to revive its season and live up to expectations, Gonzaga’s victory against Xavier will be a resume builder come tournament time. Gonzaga squares off against West Coast powerhouse, Saint Mary’s (14-2), next Thursday.
Mid-Major Power Rankings
1. UNLV (16-2)
2. San Diego State (13-2)
3. Gonzaga (12-2)
4. Temple (10-3)
5. Murray State (15-0)
6. Creighton (12-2)
7. Saint Mary’s (14-2)
8. Memphis (9-5)
9. Harvard (12-2)
10. New Mexico (13-2)
Top 5 Mid-Major Conferences
1. Mountain West (91-26, 77.7 Win %)
The conference features three legitimate NCAA Tournament contenders: UNLV (16-2), San Diego State (13-2), and New Mexico (13-2). Wyoming (13-2) has posted an impressive record so far this season, but they have not played many “tough” opponents. Wyoming’s only solid win was against Colorado (10-4), who actually leads the Pac-12 conference with a 2-0 conference record. No team in the Mountain West Conference has a losing record, and UNLV beat then #1-ranked North Carolina on a semi-neutral court in Las Vegas, NV back in November. The conference features the following top players:
* Chace Stanback, UNLV – 14.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG
* Mike Moser, UNLV – 14.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG
* Drew Gordon, New Mexico – 12.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG
* Chase Tapley, San Diego State – 16.9 PPG, 2.3 APG
2. Atlantic 10 (125-77, 61.8 Win %)
The Atlantic 10 Conference offers the most depth of the mid-major conferences. Currently, there are seven teams in contention for NCAA Tournament bids: Saint Louis (12-3), UMASS (12-3), Temple (10-3), Dayton (11-4), La Salle (11-4), St. Joseph’s (11-4), and Xavier (9-5). Also, only two teams in the conference have losing records (Rhode Island, George Washington). As mentioned earlier, Temple beat #3 Duke this past week, showing the conference’s ability to compete against quality opponents. The top players in the Atlantic 10 Conference:
* Tu Holloway, Xavier – 18.1 PPG, 5.0 APG
* Chaz Williams, UMASS – 15.1 PPG, 5.9 APG
* C.J. Aiken, St. Joseph’s – 11.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.5 BPG
* Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure – 14.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG
3. Conference USA (110-63, 63.6 Win %)
Most of the teams in the Conference USA have faced mediocre opponents throughout the year, but nonetheless, Conference USA is one of the stronger mid-major conferences, as evidenced by the conference’s overall win-loss record. Six teams stand out among the rest in the conference: Southern Miss (14-2), UCF (11-3), Tulane (12-3), Marshall (10-4), Houston (9-5), and the conference’s most talented team, Memphis (9-5). There are only three teams with losing records: UAB, Tulsa, and UTEP. If Memphis is able to play at a level that earned them a preseason Top 15 ranking in the polls, then Conference USA’s strength will improve. The top players in Conference USA:
* Will Barton, Memphis – 19.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG
* Marcus Jordan, UCF – 17.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG
* Cameron Moore, UAB – 14.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.3 BPG
* Darnell Dodson, Southern Miss – 15.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG
* Keith Clanton, UCF – 15.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG
4. West Coast (81-54, 60.0 Win %)
This conference is “top heavy,” but the top teams are good ones: Saint Mary’s (14-2), Gonzaga (12-2), and BYU (13-4). The remainder of the conference is decent, but don’t expect any more than three teams from the conference to make it to “The Dance” in March (unless one team happens to win the conference championship). Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga will face off next week and both teams should be ranked in the Top 25 prior to that game. The top players of the West Coast Conference:
* Rob Jones, Saint Mary’s – 15.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG
* Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s – 14.4 PPG, 6.6 APG
* Brandon Davies, BYU – 13.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 BPG
* Matt Carlino, BYU – 14.1 PPG, 5.0 APG
* Elias Harris, Gonzaga – 12.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG
* Noah Hartsock, BYU – 17.3 PPG
5. Missouri Valley (88-54, 61.9 Win %)
Creighton (12-2) is the best team in the conference, followed by Wichita State (11-3) and Northern Iowa (11-4). Two other teams have posted quality records so far this season: Illinois State (10-4) and Indiana State (10-4). Expect the conference to earn three NCAA Tournament bids. There are only two teams in the conference with losing records, helping the conference to earn top mid-major conference consideration. The top players in the Missouri Valley:
* Doug McDermott, Creighton – 23.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 61.6 FG%, 58.0 3P%
* Kyle Weems, Missouri State – 16.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG
Will Barton is playing like a 1st team all american for Memphis and they should be a surprise come tourney time...They had A Tough early schedule,poor defensive play ,lack of size,rebounding, and in house fighting & squabbles among the players & coach..But Memphis should be finally getting their act together,becuz they have a very easy schedule the rest of the way..
I wouldnt be surprised if Murray State doesnt make it all the way to the elite 8 or final 4 this year....
Doug McDermott has played well this season,he might be a 1st rounder if he decides to come out,he reminds me of a young Rashard Lewis....