Mid-Major Power Rankings: Colorado State, Tyler Thomas Eat At Thanksgiving
Mid-Major Power Rankings: Colorado State, Tyler Thomas Eat At Thanksgiving
Hofstra guard Tyler Thomas and Colorado State were two of college basketball's big winners from Thanksgiving Week.
Ahead of this season, Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton quipped of the Pride losing 20.2-point per game scorer Aaron Estrada to transfer that the program lost an excellent guard before and regrouped to make the NCAA Tournament.
The player to whom Claxton referred was himself, one of the all-time greats in Hofstra history. And after his exit for the NBA, the Pride went on a run to the NCAA Tournament with Jay Wright at the helm and Norm Richardson stepping up to fill the America East Conference Player of the Year void Claxton left.
Tyler Thomas being the player to step up for this incarnation of Hofstra basketball isn't exactly surprising. Thomas was a standout upon transferring into the program from Sacred Heart a year ago, providing big-time scoring pop down the stretch of the Pride's run to the Coastal Athletic Association regular-season championship.
But Thomas took his playmaking to another level in Hofstra's Gulf Coast Showcase championship-winning week. Per Hofstra sports information, Thomas' 40-point performance in the championship-round defeat of High Point was the 19th in program history, and the first 40-point game in Div. I this season.
Thomas also went for 30 points in the Gulf Coast Showcase semifinal win over Wright State. His 25-point per game average now for the season ranks third nationally, and Thomas is second in the nation in made 3-pointers per game at 4.5. He trails only CAA counterpart Gabe Dorsey of William & Mary, who is making 4.6 a contest.
Thomas was the star player of the week not just for mid-major basketball, but arguably across the country. He leads Hofstra back into action on Thursday when the Pride host USF on FloHoops.com.
Hofstra's meetings with the Bulls begins a key stretch that could see the Pride break into the Power Rankings. They hit the road next week for matchups with Iona, Saint Louis and a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on Duke. The Pride host perennial MEAC contender Norfolk State before closing out the 2023 calendar year with road tests at UNLV and St. John's.
In a standout Thanksgiving holiday for a variety of Mountain West Conference teams, the Rams' 69-48 rout of Creighton on Thanksgiving Day provided the centerpiece. Colorado State came into the Hall of Fame Classic, which opened with an 86-74 win over Boston College, rolling offensively.
The defeat of BC continued CSU's season-opening trend of putting up big offensive totals, but the blowout of a Creighton team with Final Four aspirations showcased the Rams' defensive chops. They held the Bluejays to just 17-of-61 shooting from the floor and won on the glass, 43-34.
Isaiah Stevens is making a strong, early-season case for All-American consideration with his 20-point, seven-assist and six-rebound showing the most convincing statement so far.
Colorado State's Mountain West counterparts Utah State and New Mexico also flexed their muscles during the holiday week. Utah State makes its first appearance in the FloHoops Mid-Major Power Rankings after dominating at the Cayman Islands Classic.
The Aggies opened by blowing out Marshall, then followed up with a gutty defeat of Akron in a showdown of two teams with March Madness make-up, 65-62. Great Osobor lived up to his name with 24 points and 11 rebounds, delivering both big buckets and an imposing defensive presence in the win.
Darius Brown posted his own double-double in the championship game win over Stephen F. Austin, a surging team with its own claim to appearing in the Power Rankings this week before running into Utah State. Brown's 11 points and 10 assists, and Mason Falsely's 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists, showcased the Aggies' versatility.
Utah State also beat Stephen F. Austin at its own game of physically dominant basketball.
New Mexico's undefeated showing at the Ball Dawgs Classic in the Las Vegas area added another impressive data point to the Mountain West's outstanding week, and vaulted UNM back into the Power Rankings for the first time since the preseason.
The Lobos put up 9-plus points in wins over Toledo, Rice and Pepperdine. The finale against the Waves is made all the more impressive with New Mexico playing sans both Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr.
Games to Watch Nov. 28-Dec. 3
Tuesday, Nov. 28
Southern Illinois at Indiana, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Utah State at Saint Louis, 8 p.m./5 p.m.
Akron at UNLV, 10 p.m./7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 29
UC Irvine at Duquesne, 7 p.m./4 p.m.
Monmouth at Cornell, 7 p.m./4 p.m.
Richmond at Wichita State, 7:30 p.m./4:30 p.m.
Evansville at Missouri State, 8 p.m./5 p.m.
Colorado at Colorado State, 9 p.m./6 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at New Mexico, 9 p.m./6 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 30
Liberty vs. FAU, 6 p.m./3 p.m.
USF at Hofstra, 7 p.m./4 p.m.
Hawai'i at Utah, 9 p.m./6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 1
Charleston vs. Liberty, 6 p.m./3 p.m.
Boise State at Saint Mary's, 10:30 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 2
Saint Louis at Southern Illinois, 3:30 p.m./12:30 p.m.
UNC Wilmington at Kentucky, 4 p.m./1 p.m.
Missouri State at Drake, 4 p.m./1 p.m.
Harvard at Loyola Chicago, 4 p.m./1 p.m.
Charleston vs. FAU, 6 p.m./3 p.m.
Colorado State vs. Washington, 7 p.m./4 p.m.
Yale at Vermont, 7 p.m./4 p.m.
UC Irvine at Utah State, 9 p.m./6 p.m.
USC vs. Gonzaga, 10 p.m./7 p.m.
Nov. 27 Top 15
Gonzaga rebounded from a loss to the nation's new No. 1-ranked team, Purdue, with impressive victories over Syracuse and UCLA to close out the Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs return from the mainland for a neutral-court showdown against Southern California on Saturday.
2. James Madison
The Dukes held off a tough Southern Illinois team in the the Cancun Challenge then blew out Fresno State to remain undefeated. James Madison's impressive start, beginning with an opening-night defeat of Michigan State, was made all the more impressive with the Spartans taking a top five-ranked Arizona bunch to the wire on Thanksgiving Day.
3. Colorado State
Colorado State made the biggest jump in this week's Power Rankings after its showing in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Rams' combination of uptempo offense and stifling defense powered them into the AP Top 25 this week, and just might separate them as the team to beat in the loaded Mountain West — though plenty of other contenders, including last year's national runner-up San Diego State, will dispute that.
Since losing a shocker to Bryant, FAU has looked more like the preseason Top 10-ranked team it opened 2023-24 designated as. The Owls shined at the ESPN Events Invitational, with wins over Butler from the Big East; No. 12-ranked Texas A&M out of the SEC; and the ACC's Virginia Tech Hokies in an 84-50 romp to close out the tournament.
The Owls host a marquee event of their own this weekend, drawing Liberty on Thursday and Charleston on Sunday.
5. San Diego State
The Aztecs' emphatic rebound from a loss at BYU with wins over Saint Mary's and Washington in Las Vegas reestablished Brian Dutcher's team as one to watch in 2023-24. With that comes getting every opponents' best shot, and San Diego State faced that in a 76-67 overtime win over Cal at the SoCal Showcase.
San Diego State faces a pair of local opponents this week, hosting Div. II national-title contender Point Loma Nazarene then traveling to visit UC San Diego on Friday. The following week is one of particular interest for the Power Rankings, with SDSU traveling to Grand Canyon on Dec. 5 and hosting UC Irvine on Dec. 9.
Although not the finish the Tigers would have wanted in the Battle 4 Atlantis, falling to Villanova, the Tigers scored significant wins over Michigan and Arkansas. David Jones is establishing himself as a premiere all-around playmaker, averaging 17.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game for Memphis — all team-highs.
After winning the Myrtle Beach Invitational a week prior, Liberty had a light Thanksgiving holiday. The Flames torched Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday, 99-62, in a final tune-up before the Field of 68 Tip-Off Event at FAU.
Liberty draws the Owls and a matchup against Charleston here on FloHoops.com.
Behind Xaivian Lee's 18.8 points per game and 17.5 from Matt Allocco, Princeton continues to roll on undefeated on the season. The Tigers moved to 6-0 with Thanksgiving week defeats of Old Dominion and Northeastern, and they are starting to get some love in the AP Top 25. Don't be surprised to see Princeton break through by Christmastime if it can remain unbeaten.
Nevada drops in this week's Power Rankings not for anything it did, but rather what other teams accomplished. The Wolf Pack were off, last playing in a 108-83 shootout against Portland.
They return to action this week with matchups against Montana and a good Loyola Marymount team, coming off the Cayman Islands Classic. The Lions gave SFA and Oakland tough games in losses, but finished out with a defeat of FIU.
December's a big month for Nevada overall, including a neutral-court matchup with Drake and a trip to currently unbeaten Hawai'i before participating in the Diamond Head Classic.
In a solid week for a variety of Missouri Valley teams, Bradley's stood out. The Braves outlasted Tulane in a terrific game at the SoCal Showcase, 80-77. Bradley followed that up with a defensive grinder to beat UTEP, then came home for a 79-70 win over a good Vermont bunch.
Bradley is playing some of the best defense in the nation, with a KenPom.com opponent effective field-goal percentage of just 42, No. 18 among all Div. I teams. The Braves open Valley play this week, first traveling to Murray State then hosting Indiana State in a showdown of KenPom.com Top 100-ranked teams.
Indiana State warranted consideration for this week's Power Rankings after its performance at the Ball Dawgs Classic,
11. Utah State
With a Cayman Islands Championship en tow, Utah State embarks on an arduous week. The Aggies travel to Saint Louis, a contender to break into the Power Rankings, then they return home for a matchup against UC Irvine on Dec. 2.
12. UC Irvine
There was no hangover for UC Irvine coming off its marquee win at USC.
The Anteaters went into the Ball Dawgs Classic and proceeded to dispatch Pepperdine, Toledo and Rice for their fourth, fifth and sixth consecutive wins. Combining balanced scoring with four players averaging in double-figures — though UCI was down Brent Leuchten in Henderson — with the program's typical signature defense, this might be Russell Turner's best team yet.
13. New Mexico
Boasting one of the most exciting offenses in the nation, New Mexico has been rolling since an early-season loss at Saint Mary's. The Lobos' explosiveness at the Ball Dawgs Classic sets them up for a big week that includes a matchup against Louisiana Tech, a team that's only loss came against Colorado State; and a Dec. 9 showdown with Santa Clara.
14. Santa Clara
The high of an impressive win over Oregon came crashing down for Santa Clara the next time out in the Emerald Coast Classic. The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season, falling in the championship round to Ohio State.
Still, Santa Clara remains in the Power Rankings week on the strength of the Oregon win. A stretch Dec. 9 vs. New Mexico, Dec. 13 hosting Utah State and a Las Vegas meeting with Duquesne on Dec. 23, here on FloHoops.com, could determine if Santa Clara has an at-large NCAA Tournament resume come March.
15. UNC Greensboro
UNC Greensboro came prominently onto the Power Rankings radar last week with its win at Arkansas. This week, the Spartans supplant Southern Conference counterpart Western Carolina by virtue of UNCG winning the Baha Mar Hoops Nassau championship.
UNC Greensboro scored double-digit-point wins over Kansas City Delaware before besting UIC in a 58-57 nail-biter in the final.
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