Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silent majority rankings #4

Another volatile week in the rankings, as more teams with a lot of preseason buzz have struggled while others that came in with less fanfare keep piling up impressive wins.

Previous rankings
Week one
Week two

1. Xavier (6-0)
Last week: 1
Suppose the Musketeers beat Duke on Dec. 21, then travel to Stanford on Dec. 28 and defeat the Cardinal. Two days later, Stanford beats UConn. Would the Musketeers be the first No. 1 team of 2011? Of course, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's just hope the Musketeers don't get ahead of themselves.

2. Green Bay (6-0)
Last week: 3
Not sure what these guys need to do to get a little more love in the AP poll. At least the coaches know what's up. Green Bay's record includes a 3-0 mark against Big Ten teams (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State). Senior Celeste Hoewisch had a career high 28 points in the win over the Nittany Lions and became the 25th member of the program's the 1,000-point club.

3. Marist (4-1)
Last week: 7
The Red Foxes spanked Villanova 71-60 last week, winning for just the 4th time in 24 games against Big East schools and the first time ever against the Wildcats. It was also Marist's fourth straight double-digit win since a season-opening loss to St. John's. Now imagine what the Red Foxes might do when they finally get a home game (Saturday vs. St. Bonaventure). Senior guard Erica Allensbach needs just 6 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

4. Houston (4-0)
Last week: NR
No wonder the Cougars are moving so quickly up this poll - they're riding a Porsche. Junior guard Porsche Landry averaged 23.5 ppg last week as Houston scored quality road wins at Louisiana Tech and Oral Roberts. Is this really the fourth-best non-BCS conference team? Who knows? But until someone beats them - TCU will have a chance on Thursday in Fort Worth - they've earned the benefit of the doubt.

5. Bowling Green (6-1)
Last week: 13
The Falcons notched a quality neutral-court win by rallying past UALR 56-47 behind 23 points (15-of-15 from the free throw line) and 10 rebounds by Lauren Prochaska. They followed by whipping Seattle in the championship game of the Redhawks Thanksgiving tournament and have now won six straight.

6. Old Dominion (3-1).
Last week: 5
An elite on-the-ball defender, Lady Monarchs senior guard Jasmine Parker would be one of her team's most important players if she never took a shot. That she's also the offensive catalyst and the go-to performer at crunch time makes her as central to ODU's fortunes as Dawn Evans is to James Madison's. Parker earned Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Week honors after averaging 23.5 ppg in a two-point loss at N.C. State and a four-point win against Louisville.

7. Princeton (3-2)
Last week: 6
A one-point loss at Rutgers, a 6-point loss at No. 23 Vanderbilt...one of these days the Tigers are going to reel in the big fish. They did collect a nice one-point victory over Southern California. Can't wait to see what happens when they visit Delaware on Wednesday.

8. Delaware (5-0)
Last week: 15
For all of you who think the Blue Hens are just Elena Delle Donne and a bunch of players off the street, consider that Delaware won at LaSalle Sunday even though Delle Donne played just six minutes - without scoring a point - before shutting it down because she felt ill. Sophomore forward Danielle Parker seems to be really coming into her own, and the addition of 6-4 St. Joseph's transfer Sarah Acker (10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks vs. LaSalle) has given a physical presence at both ends of the floor.

9. Florida Gulf Coast (4-0)
Last week: 14
The more the Eagles play, the more they fall in love with the 3-point shot. They attempted 23 3s in their first game, 33 in their second, 34 in the third and 43 (out of 63 total field goal attempts) in their fourth. Not sure if it's a trend they should continue, but so far it's working - they hit 13 3s in a 73-65 victory over Virginia Tech and 13 more in a 68-52 win over Montana at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun.

10. Middle Tennessee State (4-1)
Last week: NR
We know Rick Insell always churns out quality teams, but after losing four seniors from a year ago and fielding 11 freshmen and sophomores this year, we wanted to see what this team could do. Well, last week they beat East Tennessee by 16 and South Dakota State by 19. We've seen enough. Looks like Insell's done it again.

11. TCU (3-3)
Last week: 3
Sure, the Horned Frogs' three losses last week came to a pair of ranked teams (Iowa State, West Virginia) and better-than-expected Virginia. And sure, TCU has enough talent to beat anyone south of Xavier on this list. But we don't award credit for reputation. We need to see the performance to match. And frankly, these Horned Frogs weren't really playing all that well before last week's tough stretch, either.

12. Tulane (5-1)
Last week: 9
LSU had won 33 straight games against Louisiana opponents until Nov. 23, when the Green Wave marched out of Baton Rouge with a 54-52 win. The victory was so big we initially chalked up Tulane's 83-76 loss to Portland State three days later as a letdown performance. That is, until we took a closer look at Portland State and realized that those Vikings are pretty good, too.

13. Drexel (4-0)
Last week: NR
Gabi who? OK, so it's not like the Dragons have forgotten the great Gabriela Marginean. But they sure do know how to play without her. Saturday's 56-50 decision over Villanova proved that.

14. UC Davis (5-1)
Last week: NR
Led by Heidi Heintz' 17 points, the Aggies scored their first-ever victory over an SEC team by rallying from 16 down to defeat South Carolina 61-52. A showdown with St. Mary's looms Wednesday.

15. Appalachian State (5-1)
Last week: 19
Some sizzling performances by the Mountaineers, who got 34 points from sophomore Ashlen Dewart in a 30-point rout of a tough Gardner-Webb team to give coach Darcie Vincent her 300th career victory. They then made 21(!) steals and forced 31 turnovers in a 100-67 pasting of much-improved Elon.

16. Dayton (3-3)
Last week: 4
We weren't expecting that 66-65 home loss to Chicago-Illinois. And while the Flyers lost on a buzzer-beater, the fact is they were outplayed for most of the game. Nice bounceback against Wright State, though, as junior forward Justine Raterman joined Dayton's 1,000-point club in a 91-61 rout of Wright State.

17. UALR (3-2)
Last week: 8
The Trojans rebounded from a tough loss to Bowling Green to nip Montana State in the consolation game of the Seattle Thanksgiving Classic. Have a huge opportunity Thursday when they visit Oklahoma State.

18. South Dakota State (3-2)
Last week: 10
Extremely dangerous in Brookings, S.D. (3-0 record includes last week's exciting 73-70 triumph over Illinois State). Still figuring things when they have to travel (0-2 mark includes a 33-point loss at Purdue and a 19-point loss at Middle Tennessee State).

19. Illinois State (3-1)
Last week: 11
No shame in their 73-70 loss at South Dakota State (featuring a 21-point, 11-rebound effort from Emily Hanley). They'll have another chance for a victory of consequence Wednesday when more than 3,000 Chicago-area elementary school students are expected for a noon "Field Trip Day" matinee at DePaul.

20. Gonzaga (4-3)
Last week: 12
Like TCU, we're waiting for the consistent performance befitting this team's preseason hype. They were all over the place last week in Hawaii, as they fell to Ole Miss 53-52 on a layup with four seconds to go, rolled over N.C. Central and nipped Washington State in the Wahine Rainbow Classic.

21. James Madison (3-2)
Last week: 18
Flirted with a significant victory before bowing to Iowa, then collected their second OT victory in three games against Montana in Cancun. Congratulations to Dawn Evans, who became just the second JMU player (Tamera Young) in the Dukes' 2,000-point club. Still looking for a signature win. Prevailing in Tuesday's home game against Duke would certainly suffice, but even a competitive showing against the Top-5 Blue Devils, like the one Charlotte turned in last week - would say a lot.

22. Charlotte (3-2)
Last week - 19
Tough to move up when you lose your only game of the week. But the 49ers' 61-55 setback against No. 6 Duke was no ordinary loss. The 49ers led by 15 early and were down by just a point with less than two minutes remaining.

23. Fresno State (3-2)
Last week: 22
An encouraging sign for the Bulldogs - they defeated Pepperdine 78-65 despite a quiet night by star Jaleesa Ross, who was the focus of the Pepperdine defense. Ross attempted only 3 shots and scored just 5 points. But we're sure she'll take the win.

24. Kent State (5-0)
Last week: NR
It's about time we recognize a team that is off to the best start in program history, especially since the first four wins - including a 59-58 decision over Washington in the Great Alaska Shootout - were on the road. When the Golden Flashes finally got on their own floor Sunday, they crushed Marshall 79-55.

25. Nevada (5-0)
Last week: NR
We're ticked off at Nevada for spoiling our Boise State dreams in football. But we can deny what the Wolf Pack is doing in women's basketball. Led by WAC Player of the Week Shavon Moore, Nevada beat N.C. State and San Diego State to win its own Nugget Classic over the weekend.

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