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Best of the Rest

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Its time again to look at the 15 best teams not belonging to the 6 Power Conferences.  Recent history shows you nee to be in the top 5 in this group to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday, top 12 to have a chance at an at-large bid.  Rankings are best on strongest tournament profile as they stand now.  So, who makes the cut this week?  Let’s take a look –

1 – Xavier: The A10 hasn’t looked to strong, which may hurt the Musketeers chance at a spot on the top 2 lines. 

2- Butler: The Bulldogs only loss on the season was a one-pointer at Ohio State.  Throw in a road win at Xavier, and a dominating win over Wright State – thought to be the Horizon’s biggest challenge – and the Dogs could challenge for a spot in the Power 16 before the year is over.

3- Gonzaga:The Zagslooked destined for a spot on in the top two lines this time a month ago, but after a rough skid to close ’08, the Zags have fallen to a 7 seed. 

4 – Davidson: For the second straight season, the ‘Zags brutal non-conference schedule didn’t go as planned, with only a win over West Virginia to show for their efforts.  Either way, they shouldn’t lose the rest of the way, and could easily be riding a heck of a win streak once again come tourney time.

5 – BYU:The Cougars missed their one real chance at a big non-conference win a few weeks back at Arizona State, but after UNLV’s slip up, they’re in the drivers seat in the Mountain West.

6 – UNLV:The Rebels were sitting pretty a week ago, but a embarassing loss to TCU drops them a few spots.  They can ill-afford another loss like that, and could use a win over BYU in a couple weeks.

7 – Saint Mary’s: Don’t sleep on Patty Mills.

8 – Illinois State: After a decent non-conference showing, the Missouri Valley is once again flirting with becoming a one-bid league.  The Cards have the strongest resume, but need to get things together after a rough showing the past few weeks.

9 – Dayton:If the MVC gets two bids, the Flyers will likely be the second team.

10 – Utah State: The Aggieshave surprised a lot of people this year with their 15-1 record, and top spot in the WAC.

11 – Western Kentucky: The ‘tops look like the class of the Sun Belt with wins over Louisville and Georgia, but will need to avoid any letdowns if they have any chance at an outside bid.

12 – Siena: A team many expected to be higher on this list, but their win over St. Joe’s is currently the strongest on their resume.

13 – Miami (OH):The Redhawks are much better then this, but their current resume isn’t.  There’s time to change that however.  

14 – Portland State: The win over Gonzaga was rather impressive if you had the opportunity to watch it, but the loss to Weber State last week drops the Vikings out of at-large contention.

15 – VMI: The win over Kentucky looks more and more impressive, especially now that the Keydets are backing it up with their 14-2 record on the year. 

Last Night

Louisville’snon-conference showing was nothing impressive.  Now that they’ve started Big East play, they’re clicking.  Two nailbitting wins over Villanova and Notre Dame have the Cardinals looking once again like players in the race for the second most coveted Championship in college basketball this year – the Big East crown.

Oklahoma ended their 6 game losing streak to rival Texasin Norman last night.  The win moves the Sooners into contention for a spot on the top line in next week’s bracket.


Florida State @ North Carolina State: Both teams seem bubbly, and could use the win.  Should be interesting to see how the ‘Noles bounce back from Saturday’s loss to the Dukies.

Kansas State @ Kansas:  This match-up may not have the superstars it did a year ago, but it still could end up meaning a lot for both teams.

Kentucky @ #24 Tennessee: The top two teams in the SEC East showdown. 

TCU @ BYU:Just days after toppling UNLV, can the Horned Frogs knock off the Mountain West’s other top dog?

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