Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Silent Majority rankings #14 (Feb. 8)

Previous rankings
Week 12

1. Xavier (19-2, 8-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 1
The Musketeers survived yet another close encounter at Dayton (70-66 in overtime) despite being outrebounded (51-39) for just the third time this season. Ranked 7th in Division I in rebounding margin (10.6), Xavier is 17-1 when it corrals more boards than its opponents; the lone loss was the 46-45 heartbreaker at Duke on Dec. 21. On deck: Wednesday at Richmond (15-8, 6-3); Saturday vs. Fordham (10-14, 2-6).

2. Marist (21-2, 12-0 MAAC)
Last week: 2
Maybe the Red Foxes were winning by too much - after weeks of winning by 20 and 30 points, Marist barely survives Fairfield yet finally cracks the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Funny, but the players reacted as though they'd been there the whole time. "(Senior guard) Elise (Caron) sent out a text saying 'Good job, we're in the Top 25, but we still have more games left," guard Erica Allensbach told the Poughkeepsie Journal. "We still have bigger goals right now." Marist has Division I's second-longest winning streak at 17 games; AP No. 1 Baylor has won 18 straight games. On deck: Friday at Iona (9-15, 5-7); Monday vs. Canisius (7-16, 3-9).

3. Green Bay (22-1, 11-0 Horizon)
Last week: 3
Yes, Aaron Rodgers and Co. were great, but for offensive execution, it's tough to beat the 27-assists-on-31 field-goals performance the Phoenix turned in during their 87-63 rout of Cleveland State. Two days later, they showed they know a few things about defense, too, holding Youngstown State to 8 points in the first half and 25 for the game in a 59-point rout. The Cleveland State game marked the return of point guard Adrian Ritchie (10.3 ppg), who missed five games with a knee injury. The Phoenix went 5-0 during Ritchie's absence. On deck: Thursday at Illinois-Chicago (10-11, 5-5); Saturday at Loyola-Chicago (10-11, 4-6).

4. Temple (17-6, 8-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 9
Saturday's 61-52 win at Duquesne made it 10 straight victories for the Owls, who continue to match Xavier win-for-win atop the Atlantic 10.  Shay Peddy dropped a career-high 26 points on the Dukes and earned her second straight Atlantic 10 Player of the Week nod. By the way, Peddy and Owls coach Tonya Cardoza are both from Roxbury, Mass., the coolest neighborhood in Boston. On deck: Wednesday at St. Bonaventure (15-9, 5-4); Saturday vs. LaSalle (7-16, 3-5). 

5. Gonzaga (20-4, 8-0 WCC)

Last week: 6
In addition to players of the week and a player of the year, the West Coast Conference also bestows player of the month honors (What, no Player of the Day?). January's winner - surprise! - Bulldogs point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 assists in leading Gonzaga to an 8-0 record last month. It's the second time this season the senior has garnered the league's monthly award, and the sixth time in her career. On deck: Thursday vs. Loyola-Marymount (10-13, 4-5); Saturday vs. Pepperdine (15-8, 6-3).

6. Louisiana Tech (17-5, 9-0 WAC)
Last week: 7
Lady Techsters fans answered coach Teresa Weatherspoon's call to pack Thomas Assembly Center Saturday as 7,123 fans - the most since Jan. 7, 2001 - turned out to see LaTech battle Fresno State. The players responded by staging Game of the Year, Part II, a 90-84 overtime win that featured everything, including a brief altercation between players at game's end. That victory, couple with Monday's 22-point win over New Mexico State, left the Lady Techsters with an 11-game winning streak and a two-game edge on Fresno atop the WAC. Sure hope these two teams meet again in the WAC tournament. 
On deck: Saturday at New Mexico State (10-12, 4-4).

7. Houston (18-4, 9-0 Conference USA)
Last week: 8
Dominant performance by Courtney Taylor - 21 points, 18 rebounds - and the Tigers in an 85-70 beatdown of Tulane That's a program-record 55 double-doubles for Taylor, who also copped her eighth career Conference USA Player of the Week award. Houston is 9-0 since Taylor returned from the knee injury that sidelined her for three games. On deck: Thursday vs. Rice (14-9, 6-3); Sunday vs. East Carolina (10-12, 4-5).

8. Duquesne (19-4, 6-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 4
Wonder if the Dukes wish they could have played Temple in Philadelphia. Duquesne has won 11 straight on the road but fell to 1-2 in their last three games at home Saturday after falling to the Shay Peddy-led Owls 61-52 at the Palumbo Center. Duquesne's three toughest remaining A-10 tests, St. Bonaventure, Xavier and Charlotte, are all on the road. This would be bad news for most teams, but somehow, we don't think these Dukes will mind. On deck: Wednesday vs. St. Louis (7-16, 1-7); Saturday at St. Bonaventure (15-9, 5-4).

9. Florida Gulf Coast (19-1, 12-1 Atlantic Sun)
Last week: 10
What? Only 6 3-pointers in Saturday's 70-59 victory over South Carolina-Upstate? What's up with that, Eagles? Oh, you hit 15 of them on Monday against East Tennessee State? OK, that's more like it. Junior Courtney Chihil earned her second Atlantic Sun Player of the Week nod after averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7 assists in the two games. On deck: Saturday at Mercer (1-21, 1-12); Monday at Kennesaw State (7-14, 4-9).

10. Dayton (15-8, 6-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 12
The Flyers' 70-66 overtime loss to Xavier Saturday continued a recent trend of close-but-no-cigar efforts against the mighty Musketeers. Dayton fell 63-59 at Xavier on Jan. 9, and dropped an 80-79 OT decision in their previous meeting on Feb. 17, 2010. As a result, the Flyers should have loads of confidence should they meet Xavier in the conference tournament. But they can't worry about that now. With five regular-season games left, Dayton probably needs to win out to get a Top-4 seed in the A-10 tourney and avoid having to play a first-round game. With road games at Temple and Charlotte still to come, that won't be easy. On deck: Saturday at Charlotte (18-5, 6-2).

11. Princeton (15-4, 4-1 Ivy)
Last week: 5
The Tigers finally paid for their tendency to start out slowly Friday as fell behind Harvard 11-1 and were still down 10 at halftime before ultimately bowing 73-67 for their first Ivy League loss in 23 games. One Ivy League loss shouldn't be the end of the world. Fair or not, though, it's likely to be damaging to the Tigers' NCAA tournament at-large prospects, especially since Princeton will be evaluated not as the team that did such damage during its non-conference schedule but as a team that has gone through conference play without its best player, Niveen Rasheed (knee injury). On deck: Friday vs. Columbia (5-15, 4-2); Saturday vs. Cornell (5-15, 2-4).

12. Middle Tennessee State (19-5, 10-1 Sun Belt)
Last week: 13
Sophomore Icelyn Elie earned Sun Belt Player of the Week honors after averaging 24.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in home victories over Louisiana-Monroe and South Alabama. We're looking forward to Saturday's rematch with Florida International, which on Jan. 29 handed MTSU its only conference loss. On deck: Wednesday at Western Kentucky (10-13, 7-4); Saturday vs. Florida International (11-14, 6-5). 

13. Fresno State (15-7, 6-2 WAC)
Last week: 14
Think Saturday's 90-84 overtime loss to Louisiana Tech was tough? Turns out the toughest part was just making it to the game. From Fresno State's official website: "Fresno State began the stretch by having Thursday night's game against New Mexico State postponed because of rolling blackouts in the Las Cruces, N.M., area. A series of canceled flights and various delays prevented the Bulldogs from heading to Louisiana until Saturday morning. Indeed, their bus pulled up to the Thomas Assembly Center with just minutes to spare. (Bulldogs coach Adrian) Wiggins and his staff didn't even have time to change from their travel gear and instead manned the sidelines in team sweats." On deck: Thursday vs. Boise State (11-12, 2-7); Saturday vs. Utah State (12-10, 6-3).

14. James Madison (17-6, 10-1 CAA)
Last week: 18
A crowd of 6,099, the second-largest in program history, turned out to see the Dukes put down Old Dominion and capture sole possession of first place in the CAA. JMU will take an 8-game winning streak into Thursday's key conference matchup at VCU. On deck: Thursday at VCU (13-8, 8-3); Sunday vs. George Mason (11-11, 5-6).

15. Richmond (15-8, 6-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 21
Nice recovery by the Spiders, who snapped a three-game losing streak with wins at Fordham and St. Bonaventure. The wins didn't come in the fast-breaking, hot-shooting style Richmond played so beautifully earlier this season. But we weren't sure the Spiders were capable of grinding out wins, of prevailing on nights when their shots weren't falling. Now we know they can, and more importantly, they know it, too. On deck: Wednesday vs. Xavier (19-2, 8-0); Saturday at St. Joseph's (13-9, 3-5). 

16. Old Dominion (15-7, 9-2 CAA)
Last week: 11
The Lady Monarchs left themselves too much ground to make up in Sunday's 67-58 loss at James Madison but they averted disaster on Thursday when Jasmine Parker's swished a 15-footer at the buzzer to escape George Mason with a 68-67 win. The JMU loss dropped the Lady Monarchs one game behind the Dukes and into a second-place tie with UNC Wilmington. The Lady Monarchs and Seahawks will battle on Sunday in Norfolk. On deck: Thursday vs. Northeastern (8-14, 3-8); Sunday vs. UNC Wilmington (17-5, 9-2).

17. Hampton (17-6, 9-1 MEAC)
Last week: 15
The Lady Pirates continue to maul overmatched foes as Monday's 79-44 victory over N.C. Central capped a four-game homestand in which Hampton's average victory margin was 24 points. Hampton's only MEAC loss was a 55-51 setback at Bethune-Cookman in which the Lady Pirates led by 17 before inexplicably shutting down. In short, it seems as though, at least at this stage, the only MEAC team that can really handle Hampton is Hampton. On deck: Saturday at Norfolk State (8-12, 1-9); Monday at North Carolina A&T (10-11, 6-4).
18. Charlotte (18-5, 6-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 17
Atlantic 10 teams could be poised to make some real noise in the NCAA tournament because Xavier, Duquesne, Dayton, Temple, Charlotte - 9 straight road wins- and even Richmond have shown the ability to do real damage in someone else's gym. Not saying all these teams will get into the tourney; in fact we're pretty sure they all won't. But they all travel well. On deck: Wednesday vs. George Washington (7-15, 2-6); Saturday vs. Dayton (15-8, 6-3). 

19. Bowling Green (19-4, 7-3 MAC)
Last week: 19
Pretty memorable week for Lauren Prochaska. First she scores the game's last 6 points over the final 30 seconds to rally the Falcons past Northern Illinois 67-64. Then on Saturday, the senior broke the program's career scoring record with a 21-point effort during a 61-46 victory over Ball State. Prochaska now has 2,127 points; Jackie Motycka Mossing (2,122 from 1985-89) held the previous mark. On deck: Saturday at Eastern Michigan (16-8, 7-3).

20: BYU (16-7, 8-1 Mountain West)
Last week: NR
We had Wyoming in this spot last week. Felt pretty good about it, too. That's before BYU went out and buried the Cowgirls by 25 points, then traveled to UNLV and rolled by 35. We had the Cougars in our preseason poll, but on Jan. 1 they had an 8-6 record. Obviously, they've figured a few things out since.
On deck:  Wednesday vs. Air Force (7-15, 2-7); Saturday at Utah (12-11, 5-4).

21. Northern Iowa (17-5, 10-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week: 23
Make it 9 wins in a row for the Panthers, who downed Missouri State 67-59 on Sunday to remain in sole possession of first place atop the Missouri Valley. Junior Jacqui Kalin led the way with a career-high 29 points - 10 more than her previous best - against Missouri State. Kalin, who also scored 19 points in a victory over Wichita State, earned MVC Player of the Week honors. On deck: Thursday vs. Creighton 15-7, 9-2); Saturday vs. Drake (11-11, 5-6).

22. Arkansas-Little Rock (16-5, 10-0 Sun Belt)
Last week: 24
Saturday's 57-52 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette was the Trojans' 13th straight since a loss at Memphis on Dec. 11. Of course, UALR can't afford to look too far down the road. But we certainly can, and we can't wait to see these guys, the runaway leaders of the Sun Belt's West Division, host East-leading Middle Tennessee State on Feb. 20. On deck: Thursday vs. North Texas (5-19, 2-9); Sunday at Louisiana-Monroe (12-12, 6-5).

23. TCU (15-8, 7-2 Mountain West)
Last week: 25
Sophomore DeLisa Gross went 7-for-7 from the field and scored 20 points a 62-53 victory over San Diego State that snapped TCU's two-game losing streak. On deck: Wednesday at UNLV (9-14, 2-7); Saturday at Wyoming (17-5 7-2). 

24. UNC Wilmington (17-5, 9-2 CAA)
Last week: 20
Impressive come-from-behind overtime win over VCU followed by a surprising road loss at Georgia State. The loss snapped an eight-game losing streak and was the Seahawks' first all season in a game they were expected to win. UNCW's other losses came at Ohio State, at Boston College, at VCU and to Charlotte.  On deck: Thursday at William and Mary (2-19, 1-10); Sunday at Old Dominion (15-7, 9-2).

25. Toledo (17-6, 9-1 MAC)
Last week: NR
The Rockets engineered an 11-point victory at Miami to win their fifth straight and establish control of the MAC race. West Division-leading Toledo's conference record is at least two games better than every other MAC team. On deck: Saturday vs. Ohio (7-16, 3-7).
None of the other 11 MAC teams have fewer than three conference losses.

Hey, what about us?

- Appalachian State (19-4, 13-2 Southern): Winners of nine straight and can all but lock up the Southern regular-season title with a win at second-place Samford.

Tulane (17-6, 6-4 Conference USA) - Talented team but just 2-4 in its last six games.

- UC Davis (17-5, 7-3 Big West) - The Aggies remain two games back of Cal Poly, but last week's 20-point rout of the Mustangs suggests UC Davis may still be the team to beat. 

VCU (13-8, 8-3 CAA) - Bid for CAA regular-season title took a blow with last week's loss at UNC Wilmington; must seize chance to bring JMU back to the pack Thursday.

- Illinois State (15-6, 7-3 Missouri Valley) - Winners of five straight, a streak that includes a 13-point win over second-place Creighton.

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