2024 Towson vs Charleston - Men's

Mid-Major Power Rankings: Memphis, Utah State Escape Wild Week Of Upsets

Mid-Major Power Rankings: Memphis, Utah State Escape Wild Week Of Upsets

Upsets throughout college basketball impacted mid-major conferences, leading to a shake-up in the FloHoops Power Rankings early into conference play.

Jan 15, 2024 by Kyle Kensing
Mid-Major Power Rankings: Memphis, Utah State Escape Wild Week Of Upsets

An unprecedented week of upsets around college basketball did not spare the mid-major conferences. 

For the first time in the history of the Associated Press Top 25, four of the top-five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents in a 24-hour span. The hits kept coming to Top 25 teams, including Colorado State's loss to Boise State; New Mexico — coming off of a defeat against UNLV — routing San Diego State in front of a packed Pit; and Santa Clara scoring a landmark victory against Gonzaga. 

Boise State stands out as perhaps the biggest winner of the week, following up a 65-58 defeat of then-No. 17-ranked Colorado State with a 64-56 win at Nevada. The Wolf Pack had been one of the hottest teams in the nation before the Broncos' visit to Reno. 

Behind a top 20 defense, and carrying an impressive overall resume, Boise State returns to the Power Rankings at No. 10. The Broncos have wins against San Francisco, Saint Mary's and North Texas in addition to their two marquee victories in Mountain West Conference play last week. All are ranked in the top 60 of KenPom.com overall metrics, and four appear in this installment of the Power Rankings. 

Meanwhile, even of those ranked teams that survived the onslaught of the past week, some needed some especially wild finishes. That includes the top two of this week's FloHoops Mid-Major Power Rankings. 

Memphis remains on top after a week in which it twice scored triple-digits — the first time in a 107-101, overtime thriller against UT San Antonio. 

"We're still learning [about] each other, which is crazy to say that where we are, and winning," Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in his press conference following the win. "I'll take it." 

The Tigers' follow-up was much less competitive with a 112-86 blowout of Wichita State. Memphis is one a 10-game winning streak, among the longest in the nation after the volatility of the past week. 

Among the few teams boasting a longer winning streak is this week's No. 2 in the FloHoops Power Rankings, its high mark of the season, Utah State. But the Aggies needed one of the most raucous finishes in recent memory in order to extend their run to a nation's best 15 games. 

Utah State trailed UNLV for all but the closing seconds when Darius Brown's 3-pointer to cut the Runnin' Rebels lead to one point coincided with Great Osobor drawing an off-ball foul. The sequence resulted in a rare five-point play and an 87-86 Aggies win. 

In addition to their continued winning streaks, another shared trait characterizing both Memphis and Utah State is the presence of bona fide National Player of the Year contenders. 

Osobor's game-winning free throws at UNLV capped a 24-point, 14-rebound effort for the junior forward. It was his ninth double-double of the season and his fourth consecutive outing producing at least 20 points. Osobor is averaging 18.9 points (No. 47 in Div. I) and 9.6 rebounds (No. 23) per game while shooting 58.5 percent from the floor (No. 42). 

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 10th nationally with 20.9 points per game and has been a terrific perimeter defender to key the Tigers on both ends of the court. 

Another team extending its winning streak against the backdrop of a historically stunning few days, Charleston continues its ascent with a nine-game run. The Cougars offense has come nicely into form, producing at least 80 points in eight of its most recent outings. The 94 points they scored against Monmouth, one of the most improved teams in the nation from a season ago, marked Charleston's season-high. 

The Cougars face high-profile tests in the week to come, including Saturday's showdown against UNC Wilmington in a rematch of last year's Coastal Athletic Association Championship Game.  Elsewhere in the CAA, Drexel has put together its own impressive winning streak ahead of a meeting with a tough Delaware team on Saturday. The Dragons are winners in five straight, all in conference play, with four coming by double-digit-point margins. 

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Drexel isn't yet in the Power Rankings, but the Dragons are on the radar if they can keep rolling. 

Games to Watch Jan. 16-21

Tuesday, Jan. 16 

Samford at Western Carolina, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT 

Utah State at New Mexico, 10:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, Jan. 17

UMass at Loyola Chicago, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Youngstown State at Oakland, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Bradley at Southern Illinois, 8 p.m./5 p.m. 

Nevada at San Diego State, 11 p.m./8 p.m. 

Thursday, Jan. 18 

Towson at Charleston, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

Monmouth at Drexel, 7 p.m./4 p.m. 

UC San Diego at UC Irvine, 10 p.m./7 p.m. 

Friday, Jan. 19 

UNLV at Colorado State, 10:30/7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, Jan. 20 

George Washington at UMass, 12 noon/9 a.m. 

San Diego State at Boise State, 1 p.m./10 a.m. 

Delaware at Drexel, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 

Saint Bonaventure at George Mason, 2 p.m./11 a.m. 

Richmond at Davidson, 4 p.m./1 p.m. 

Charleston at UNC Wilmington, 6 p.m./3 p.m. 

Saint Mary's at San Francisco, 10 p.m./7 p.m. 

Grand Canyon at Seattle, 10 p.m./7 p.m. 

Sunday, Jan. 21 

Memphis at Tulane, 1 p.m./10 a.m. 

Jan. 15 Top 15

1. Memphis 

Riding a 10-game winning streak with one of the nation's most exciting offenses, this might be the best Memphis team since the 2008 national runners-up. David Jones' All-America-caliber production, Jahvon Quinerly's effective two-way offensive playmaking,  and some of the most aggressive turnover-generating defense in college basketball have powered the Tigers into the top 10 of the AP Poll. 

2. Utah State 

No team has been better in close games than Utah State, which has five wins of 10 points or fewer against KenPom.com top 100 competition including San Francisco, UC Irvine, Colorado State and UNLV. The run began with the Aggies' 65-62 defeat of Akron at the Cayman Islands Classic in November. 

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The Mountain West Conference gauntlet continues for Utah State, which heads to The Pit to take on New Mexico after the Lobos' romp against San Diego State. 

3. San Diego State 

Speaking of San Diego State, the Aztecs dropped their first decision in more than a month with Saturday's 88-70 defeat at New Mexico. 

"We're going to have an NBA mentality," SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said in his postgame press conference. "We're going to learn from up, we're going to put it behind us."

Things get no easier for the Aztecs with Wednesday's home date against Nevada, then a trip Saturday to face red-hot Boise State. The coming stretch certainly won't determine the Mountain West regular-season championship, but could leave a title hopeful like San Diego State with a lot of ground to make up in a little more than a month. 

4. Dayton

Dayton's winning streak reached 10 games with a 72-62 win at Duquesne on Friday. The Flyers have held six straight opponents to fewer than 70 points, thriving with the defensive intensity typical of an Anthony Grant-coached team, while playing some of the most efficient offense anywhere in college basketball. 

UD shoots 40.3 percent from 3-point range as a team, with almost 40 percent of its total offense coming from deep. Couple that with the explosive play in the paint DaRon Holmes delivers, and Dayton can beat opponents both inside and out. 

5. Colorado State

Losses to Utah State and Boise State dropped Colorado State from the Top 25, but the Rams still have six top 100 wins with a chance to reach seven this week when they host UNLV. 

6. New Mexico 

An audience of 15,437 — the most at The Pit in almost 15 years — saw Jaelen House go for 26 points and five assists, with JT Topping posting 17 points and 16 rebounds. New Mexico's inside-outside tandem, and explosive scoring perimeter threat Jamal Mashburn Jr., can be as good as any trio in the nation when they are all clicking in unison. 

7. Grand Canyon 

Grand Canyon extended its winning streak to 13 games on Saturday, kicking off what could be the definitive stretch of the Antelopes' Western Athletic Conference season with a 74-48 blowout of Tarleton. 

GCU draws Utah Valley twice, Seattle twice, Stephen F. Austin and UT Arlington in the next three weeks. Should the Lopes navigate that stretch unscathed, they'll be well-positioned for an undefeated WAC season. 

8. Nevada

Nevada's first loss since Dec. 9 was also the first game in which the Wolf Pack scored fewer than 67 points. The offensive woes hindering Nevada against Boise State were an outlier for a team that posted 88 points on a TCU that, with a pair of top-10 wins this past week, proved itself a Final Four contender. 

The Pack have a chance to rebound on a big stage this week when they travel to San Diego State. 

9. FAU 

Coming off a surprising stretch dropping 2-of-3 in matchups at Florida Gulf Coast and Charlotte, FAU needed a pair of clutch free throws from Alijah Martin to avoid another loss against a good Tulane team on Thursday. While the Owls surrendered 84 points to the Green Wave, the hard-fought road win showcased FAU's offense at its best with five scorers in double-figures. 

Any Owl can go off at a given time, which makes them dangerous come March despite the more confounding losses. And go off Johnell Davis did in an impressive win over UAB to close the week, posting 30 points. 

10. Boise State 

The surging Broncos have effectively forced two of the most potent offenses in the West into rock fights over the past week. That rough-and-tumble style of play promises to keep Boise State at the forefront of the wildly competitive MW race all season, which in turn means having a strong case for NCAA Tournament at-large consideration. 

11. Charleston

Its struggles early in the season are well off in the rear-view mirror, as Charleston looks ready to set the pace in the CAA once again. Last year's one-time Top 25 team and NCAA Tournament faces its biggest test of conference play this week when it takes on UNC Wilmington. 

The showdown of high-powered offenses may well be a race to 100 points. 

12. Drake

A stunningly lopsided loss Jan. 7 at Belmont could have set Drake back considerably, marking the Bulldogs' second loss in three games. However, Tucker DeVries' incredible performance with 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, 29 points, six rebounds and four assists in an 89-78 bounce-back win over Indiana State flipped the script. 

Drake and Indiana State now appear poised to jockey for the top spot in the Missouri Valley — though resurgent Bradley looms large. 

13. Indiana State   

The loss at Drake was Indiana State's first Missouri Valley loss, but the Sycamores rebounded emphatically with a 94-64 blowout of Belmont. ISU's five conference wins, including a Dec. 2 road defeat of Bradley, have been by an average of 18.4 points per game. 

14. Princeton  

Matt Allocco went off for 25 points to open Princeton's week with a 76-58 win over Dartmouth. The Tigers have won five straight since their only loss of the season, four of which have been by at least 18 points. 

15t. San Francisco, Gonzaga and Saint Mary's 

While perhaps cheating to rank three teams from the same conference in a tie, it's an effort to note how historically unpredictable the West Coast Conference is shaping up to be in 2024. 

Since its first deep NCAA Tournament run in 1999, Gonzaga has mostly had a lock on WCC supremacy. Even in rare down years, like 2015-16 when Gonzaga shared the regular-season championship with Saint Mary's, the Bulldogs still looked like the class of the league. 

With a loss against Santa Clara on Thursday, however, Gonzaga showed true vulnerability in what might be the strongest overall WCC in recent memory. Santa Clara is a talented, dangerous squad, and still only the fourth-best team in the league with San Francisco a winner in 9-of-10 and Saint Mary's coming on strong since an early-season swoon.