2023 Field of 68 Tip-Off: Charleston vs Liberty - Men's

Mid-Major Power Rankings: High-Powered Indiana State Surges Forward

Mid-Major Power Rankings: High-Powered Indiana State Surges Forward

A huge opening week of Missouri Valley Conference play helps Indiana State debut in the FloHoops Mid-Major Power Rankings, and Gonzaga holds steady on top.

Dec 4, 2023 by Kyle Kensing

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Indiana State capped one of its best seasons in program history a year ago with a trip to the College Basketball Invitational, a significant milestone for the Sycamores under new head coach Josh Schertz

A postseason run years in the making may have just been the start for Indiana State, which makes its debut in the FloHoops Mid-Major Power Rankings following an impressive start to the Missouri Valley Conference season. 

ISU came into its first set of league games off of an undefeated run at the Ball Dawgs Classic, capped with a 76-74 thriller against a Toledo team likely to contend for the Mid-American Conference championship. 


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Notably, the 76 points Indiana State scored against Toledo mark the fewest the Sycamores have posted in any games so far this season. Credit an uptempo offense that plays at one of the nation's fastest paces — the Sycamores' average just 15.1 seconds per possession, per KenPom.com metrics — and they shoot the nation's best effective field-goal percentage at 62.3 percent. 

Indiana State is hitting an incredible 41.8 percent from 3-point range, while attempting more than 45 percent of all its field goals from beyond the arc. Isaiah Swope has knocked down 25-of-55 3-point attempts through Dec. 2, while Ryan Conwell has gone 16-of-36. 

The Sycamores blasted Southern Illinois on Nov. 28, 77-48, then knocked off a Bradley team coming off a strong showing at the Thanksgiving week SoCal Challenge. The 85-77 road win last Saturday improves Indiana State to 7-1 on the season, with the lone loss coming in opening week at Alabama. 

"We had to make plays, had to make free throws, had to get a stop, had to do something and we found a way in a tough environment," Schertz said in his postgame radio interview after the win over Bradley. 

Bradley had joined the Power Rankings last week, and the Braves were not the only team checking in after Thanksgiving to face upset returning from the holidays. 

As part of a huge weekend for the Coastal Athletic Association, College of Charleston played perhaps its best game of the season in a 76-67 win over previously undefeated Liberty. The Cougars have played one of the most difficult schedules in college basketball this season and faced some ups and downs, but with Ben Burnham's 18 points lead the way, Charleston looked like the team that reached the AP Top 25 a season ago with the Field of 68 Tip-Off win. 


Charleston's three-game winning streak that included a win over a Kent State team just outside of the KenPom.com top 100 and the defeat of Liberty ended against Florida Atlantic, but the Cougars get yet another shot to impress against a quality mid-major conference opponent when Rhode Island visits TD Arena on Dec. 10. 

Rhody's visit to Charleston is part of a great week in mid-major games to follow as we roll into December. 

Games to Watch Dec. 5-10 

Tuesday, Dec. 5  

  • FAU vs. Illinois, 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT 
  • Bradley at Akron, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 
  • Drexel at Princeton, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Coming off a monumental win over No. 18-ranked Villanova in the Big 6 Classic, Drexel aims to carry over the momentum into a huge week. The Dragons face an undefeated Princeton team garnering support for the AP Top 25, and steadily rising in the FloHoops Power Rankings. 

The Tigers are 2-0 against CAA opponents this season, including a win over a Hofstra team likely to be in the mix for the league championship alongside Drexel. 

  • Louisiana Tech at Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 p.m./4:30 p.m. 
  • San Diego State at Grand Canyon, 9 p.m./6 p.m. 
  • North Texas at Boise State, 9 p.m./6 p.m. 

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  •  Vermont at Northeastern, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Vermont heads to Boston for a matchup with Northeastern, streaming on FloHoops.com, fresh off the Catamounts scoring their first KenPom.com top 100 win of the season — and they did so in dramatic fashion. 

T.J. Long's four-point play at the buzzer stole a 66-65 win in one of the season's wildest finishes to date. 

  • Hofstra at Iona, 7 p.m/4 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 9

  • Tulane at Mississippi State, 11:30 a.m./8:30 a.m. 
  • Cleveland State at Kent State, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 
  • Grand Canyon at Liberty, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 
  • Hofstra at Saint Louis, 3 p.m./12 noon 
  • Stephen F. Austin at Wyoming, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 
  • Drexel at West Virginia, 4 p.m./1 p.m.
  • New Mexico vs. Santa Clara, 5 p.m./2 p.m. 

Coming off a tough loss to Cal that knocked it from the Power Rankings, Santa Clara gets a chance to make a statement again in the Las Vegas area vs. New Mexico. The Broncos' meeting with the Lobos is part of the Jack Jones Classic, and the first of two marquee mid-major matchups for Santa Clara this month in and around Vegas. 

Santa Clara also faces Duquesne on Dec. 23, streaming here on FloHoops.com.

  • Saint Mary's at Colorado State, 6:30 p.m./3:30 p.m. 
  • Nevada vs. Drake, 7:30 p.m./4:30 p.m.

2023 NCAA Tournament participants and conference title hopefuls for 2024, Nevada and Drake both seek a statement win when meeting in Las Vegas.  

  • UC Irvine at San Diego State, 10:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. 
  • Gonzaga at Washington, 11 p.m./8 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 10

  • Princeton at Saint Joseph's, 1 p.m./10 a.m.  
  • Rhode Island at Charleston 2 p.m./11 a.m. 
  • Memphis at Texas A&M, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 
  • Long Beach State at USC, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 
  • Elon at UNC Greensboro, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 

Elon struggled mightily in non-conference play a season ago, but the Phoenix have been markedly better in non-league competition in 2023-24. The highlight thus far is courtesy of Rob Higgins, whose buzzer-beater last week to beat Presbyterian provided one of the best moments of the first month of this regular season. 

Dec. 4 Top 15

1. Gonzaga

Gonzaga showed off its depth in an 89-76 romp vs. USC in Las Vegas. Ryan Nembhard and Dusty Stromer each scored 15 points, leading six Bulldogs scoring in double-figures. That star Anton Watson was not one of the six makes the feat all the more remarkable. 

2. Colorado State

Coming off its blowout win over a top 10-ranked Creighton team, Colorado State scored a pair of wins against quality opponents from the Pac-12 Conference. The Rams beat preseason Top 25-ranked Colorado on Nov. 29, 88-83, then followed up with an 86-81 win over Washington in the Legends of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational. 

While Isaiah Stevens has played like an All-American through the season's first month, the defeat of Washington showcased Colorado State's all-around strength. Five Rams scored in double-figures, including Joel Scott with 17 points. Scott, a transfer from Div. II who earned All-American recognition at that level, has been an X-factor for CSU with at least 12 points in seven of the Rams' first eight games. 

3. FAU 

A loss to Bryant seemingly provided a wake-up call for an FAU team with a Final Four-tested roster. Since that 61-52 defeat of Nov. 18, the Owls have scored at least 83 points in every game, all wins, with four coming against opponents sporting a KenPom ranking of no worse than No. 66. 

Another high-profile matchup awaits FAU this week when it faces Illinois in Madison Square Garden — the site of the Owls' ascent to the 2023 Final Four. 

4. James Madison 

The Dukes continue to cruise along undefeated after an impressive start, though the schedule has softened considerably since opening-week wins over Michigan State and Kent State. 

James Madison beat a Buffalo team ranked No. 338 in KenPom ratings, and near the bottom for all of Div. I in the first NET rankings of the season. The Dukes then torched Div. III Keystone on Dec. 3. 

5. San Diego State 

Last season's national runner-up San Diego State has ripped off six straight wins heading into a week with a pair of big-time mid-major contests. The Aztecs travel to Phoenix on Tuesday to face Grand Canyon, just outside of the FloHoops Power Rankings this week; then SDSU returns home to host UC Irvine on Saturday. 

Getting win No. 6 didn't come without some stress, however: San Diego State needed a second-half rally and a buzzer-beating putback by Jaedon LeDee to hold off upstart UC San Diego. 

6. Princeton

Xaivian Lee led a Princeton rally from down nine points with just 3:18 left vs. Furman. The Tigers remained undefeated with the furious comeback, concluded on Matt Allocco's 3-pointer just before the buzzer. 

7. Nevada

Nevada scored one of its more impressive wins thus far in 2023-24 on Saturday, shutting down Loyola Marymount in a 73-59 victory. The degree of difficulty starts to pick up for the Pack in the coming weeks, beginning this Saturday with a meeting of FloHoops Power Rankings Top 15 teams when Nevada meets Drake in the Jack Jones Classic. 

8. Utah State

Its dominant showing at the Cayman Islands Classic launched Utah State into the Power Rankings for the first time last week. The Aggies continue their climb after another strong week, this time beating Saint Louis on the road, 81-76; and downing UC Irvine on Dec. 2, 79-69. 


"I kept telling the guys that it's tough to beat UC Irvine," Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said in his postgame press conference on Saturday. "They aren't going to beat themselves." 

Both the Aggies and Anteaters look like prime contenders for berths in the NCAA Tournament field come March. 

9. Memphis 

A surprising loss at Ole Miss on Dec. 2 sends Memphis into the week on a two-game skid. The Tigers face a huge stretch before the holidays, traveling to VCU on Wednesday before a stretch against three consecutive KenPom top 30 teams: Texas A&M on Dec. 10; Clemson on Dec. 16; and Virginia on Dec. 19. 

10. New Mexico

New Mexico has rebounded nicely since its first-week loss at Saint Mary's. The Lobos followed a strong showing at the Ball Dawgs Classic with a win over a good Louisiana Tech team and a 106-62 pounding of rival New Mexico State. 

The Lobos are playing one of the fastest tempos in college basketball, and doing so with care. They rank 18th nationally in turnover percentage and are doing so with Jamal Mashburn Jr. still sidelined.

11. Indiana State

Indiana State's winning streak, built on efficient and unselfish offensive basketball, has four Sycamores averaging at least 13.6 points per game. ISU's prowess on that side of the ball this year includes pouring in 103 points against Rice at the Ball Dawgs Classic. 


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12. Dayton

Dayton makes its return to the Power Rankings for the first time since the preseason. The Flyers have won three straight since a Nov. 19 loss to Houston, including a 65-63 road defeat of SMU on Nov. 29. 

The victory against the Mustangs marked Dayton's third against a KenPom top-100 opponent. 

13. Appalachian State 

Appalachian State makes its debut in the Power Rankings amid a five-game winning streak with some impressive notches on its belt. The run began with the Mountaineers' rout of a very good UNC Wilmington team — just ask Kentucky how good the Seahawks are — and culminated with their 69-64 defeat of Auburn on Dec. 3. 

14. Drake

Since its loss to Stephen F. Austin in the Cayman Islands Classic, Drake has rebounded well with four straight wins — three of which were by at least 17 points. 

Tucker DeVries continues to have an All-America kind of year, averaging 20.1 points and 6.6 rebounds, as well as a team-high three assists for the potent Bulldogs offense. 

15. UNC Greensboro 

UNC Greensboro holds steady in the final spot of the Power Rankings, carrying a five-game winning streak into the new week. The Spartans kicked off their run with a win at Arkansas on Nov. 17, and won the championship at the Baha Mar Nassau Hoops Championship with a gritty title-game defeat of a solid Illinois-Chicago bunch. 


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