The Other 26: Week 11Posted by IRenko on February 11th, 2012
I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on twitter @IRenkoHoops.
It was a brutal week for the TO26 top 15, as the top four teams lost five games combined. Read on to see how that shuffled the rankings. After the revised top 15, we look at the top 10 results of the past week, sorting through both the headline-grabbing upsets and the big games that may have slipped past your radar. Then we preview the top 10 games of the coming week, which includes a bounty of top matchups this Saturday and several small conference teams putting their first-place records on the line against their stiffest competition.
Top 10 Results of the Past Week
- Northern Iowa 65, Creighton 62 – If you haven’t already seen this tremendous finish to a tremendous game, see the video above. Antoine Young hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left, only for Anthony James to turn around and hit a game-winning 3 at the buzzer, triggering a wild RTC. The Panthers committed just 2 turnovers in the game, a crucial antidote to Creighton’s dominance on the boards.
- Tennessee State 72, Murray State 68 — This was not how it was supposed to end. The Racers’ record drew its first blemish on Thursday night with a four-point loss to visiting Tennessee State. Murray State was undone by a mediocre defensive effort and poor ball security. The team’s usually potent starting backcourt of Isaiah Canaan, Donte Poole, and Jewuan long committed 14 turnovers combined.
- Gonzaga 73, St. Mary’s 59 — Gonzaga exacted revenge for their blowout loss at St. Mary’s last month. It was a close game for 25 minutes, but then the Bulldogs went on a 14-4 run and didn’t look back. In the process they pulled to within a game of the Gaels for first place in the WCC and gave their Tournament at-large resume an important boost.
- Memphis 72, Xavier 68 — Down 11 with 6:16 to go, the Tigers mounted a furious 17-1 run and held on late against the visiting Musketeers. It was an important win for Memphis, coming on the heels of losing at Southern Miss and was their best non-conference win of the season. For Xavier, the game was perhaps a microcosm of their tumultuous season.
- Wyoming 68, UNLV 66 – Normally Larry Shyatt’s crew wins games with their defense but against one of the top TO26 teams in the country, they managed a close win on the strength of a solid offensive performance. Luke Martinez was 5-13 from the field, with all of his shots coming from beyond the arc.
- Loyola 87, Iona 81 — A dominant performance by Loyola pushed the Greyhounds past Iona into first place in the MAAC. At one point midway through the second half, the Greyhounds led by 25 points. The Gaels have gotten all the mid-major headlines this year, but the Greyhounds just showed that they might be the MAAC’s best team.
- St. Louis 58, Dayton 50 – Dayton is undoubtedly the A10’s most enigmatic team, posting results that defy any general trend. Last Saturday, they lost at St. Louis, revenge for the Bilikens overtime loss at Dayton last month. St. Louis’ tough defense held the Flyers to just 24.6% FG shooting.
- Harvard 56, Penn 50 — Harvard passed its biggest test of the Ivy League season with a win at the Palestra. The Crimson showed again that their improvement from last year owes itself to a turnaround on the defensive end. They held the Quakers to 32.1% FG shooting and their star guard, Zack Rosen, to a 6-21 night. With wins at Yale and Penn, at the halfway mark of the League season, the Crimson looks poised to make good on its championship potential.
- Denver 75, MTSU 60 — All season long, this looked like the most dangerous game on MTSU’s conference schedule, and it certainly proved to be. Denver has been a bit uneven in conference play, but they brought their best against the visiting Blue Raiders. Chris Udofia scored 27 points on 10-14 shooting and added nine rebounds to lead the Pioneers.
- UAB 71, Southern Miss 61 — Just one week after taking over first place in C-USA with a huge win over Memphis, the Golden Eagles coughed up the conference lead with a loss at UAB. The Blazers, who are starting to find their mojo, shot over 60 percent from the field. Cameron Moore led them with 27 points on 12-16 FG shooting and 12 rebounds.
Top Ten Games of the Coming Week
- San Diego State at UNLV (2/11, 4 PM) — Both teams have suffered upset road losses since their last meeting on January 14, which the Aztecs won narrowly, 69-67. That raises the stakes a bit more for Saturday’s game, as neither team will want to see any more crooked numbers appearing in their conference loss column. Key stat to look for: If UNLV can hit their threes, they’ll have the advantage.
- Wichita State at Creighton (2/11, 5 PM) — Yet another premier mid-major conference battle on Saturday. With Creighton losing two in a row, Wichita State has backed into first in the MVC. Can the Bluejays pull back into a tie for the conference lead? This should be a great game, as Creighton will be desperate, the Omaha crowd will bring the noise, and the Shockers will be driven by the ghosts of their loss at home to the Bluejays last month.
- Xavier at Temple (2/11, 9 PM) — For all the tumult of the A-10 season, what looked like the game of the year in the preseason remains a critical one. The Owls have won seven straight and lead the conference at 7-2, but Xavier is in a pack of three just a half game behind at 7-3. Can the Musketeers’ tough defense slow Temple’s increasingly potent offense?
- New Mexico at San Diego State (2/15, 10:15 PM) — Win or lose against UNLV, SDSU will have little time to dwell on the result, as they will have to turn around and get ready to host the Lobos. New Mexico will be looking to avenge its home loss to the Aztecs last month. As with UNLV, much will depend on whether the Lobos can make their threes. Don’t expect SDSU to let them get to the free throw line as often as they’re used to.
- VCU at George Mason (2/14, 9 PM) — This is the first of two games that the co-conference leaders will play in their last three conference games of the year. (Yeah, no one ever accused the CAA scheduling gods of balance.) Look for whether George Mason’s turnover-prone offense can handle VCU’s pressure defense. And look for Drexel, the third conference co-leader, to sit back and enjoy as these teams beat up on each other.
- Stony Brook at Vermont (2/12, 12 PM) — Stony Brook puts its America East conference-leading 12-1 mark on the line at second-place Vermont. A win would draw the Catamounts even in the loss column with just a few games left to play.
- St. Francis (NY) at Long Island (2/12, 4:30 PM) — St. Francis has been somewhat of a surprise this year in the NEC, posting a 10-3 mark, good for third place. They’ll get a chance to prove just how much of a surprise they are, with a visit to conference-leading Long Island.
- Mississippi Valley State at Southern (2/13, 8:30 PM) — Like Stony Brook, SWAC leaders MVSU will trip to the home of the conference’s second-place team for a showdown in a hostile environment. It will be an interesting contrast in two strong defensive styles, as MVSU will put its up-tempo, high-turnover, pressure defense against Southern’s grinding, low-percentage half-court defense.
- UNC-Asheville at Coastal Carolina (2/14, 7 PM) — With all of UNC-Asheville’s Big South contenders beating up on each other, their three-game conference lead looks pretty safe. Still, Tuesday’s game at Coastal Carolina will be worth keeping an eye on, as it’ll be the Bulldogs’ toughest test of the conference season.
- Lehigh at Bucknell (2/16, 7 PM) — Lehigh’s disappointing 6-3 conference mark took the luster off of what once looked like it would be a battle for first in the Patriot League. Can the Hawks pull together and give Bucknell its first loss in league play?