Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor. For an introduction to this series, please click here.
It is finally here. After a 216-day hiatus, crowds are again filing into the 345 arenas throughout the country—ranging from the colossal Carrier Dome (33,000) to the small, but quaint Charleston Southern Field house (790)—coaches are berating their players and the officials, the zebras are whistling while they work, and the student-athletes are providing us, the fans, with numerous drama-filled and gut-wrenching college basketball games. Is there anything better in the world of sports? I think not. I know I got butterflies in my stomach when the ball went up on November 8.
Now that many schools have a few games under their belts, I am pleased to release my Top 20 rankings of the “Other 26;” everyone likes rankings, projections, and predictions. There is a reason why virtually the second after the National Championship has concluded projections for next year’s Tournament are already being drafted up. There are, of course, always the preseason rankings that give people an idea of who the top teams are heading into the coming season. Suffice it to say, I am behind in the game by releasing my top 20 rankings of the “Other 26” after the season has begun. But, without further adieu, here are your top 20 after the first full week of action:
What team impressed the most?
I have placed four teams from the Mountain West conference in the top 10 as this is one of the most underrated conferences in America. BYU, UNLV, New Mexico, and San Diego State were all quite strong last year and all four made it to the NCAA Tournament. It is apparent that the top half of the Mountain West is stronger than the upper echelon teams in the Pac-10. San Diego State demonstrated how strong of a conference this is by defeating Gonzaga 79-76, and in doing so they had the best week of any of our “Other 26” teams. The two-headed monster of Kawhi Leonard and Billy White up front will pose lots of problems for the opposition. One needs to look no further than how they carved apart Gonzaga’s defense by combining for 48 points, 21 rebounds and four steals. The Aztecs are legitimate and should be taken very seriously by the rest of the Mountain West and the NCAA Selection Committee.
Best Individual Performances