Mid-Major Report: Illinois State Jumps Up to #3 After Big Win Over Wichita State

College Basketball is so unpredictable. One day you’re on top of the world, the next you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. A weekend full of great games, outstanding performances and teams who surprised and disappointed. Here is the second edition of the weekly mid-major report…

Power Rankings:

Gonzaga (17-0, 5-0 WCC)

After the 22-point victory over St. Mary’s Saturday, it’s safe to say this is arguably one of Mark Few’s best teams in his time at Spokane. The balance and chemistry of this group is scary and it showed in the blowout win over the Gaels. February 11th is circled on my calendar when the ‘Zags head down to for a true road game at St. Mary’s.  

St. Mary’s (15-2, 5-1 WCC)

Although the loss to Gonzaga wasn’t pretty, the Gaels still earned the number two spot in this week’s power rankings. This team prides themselves on the fundamentals and playing basketball the right way which will make them a threat come March.

Illinois State (14-4, 6-0 MVC)

The Redbirds came, they saw, they conquered in impressive fashion over Wichita State on Saturday night. Being the new leader in the Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois State has a legitimate chance of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.  

New Mexico State (17-2, 4-0 WAC)

Quite the weekend for the Aggies. Wins over Grand Canyon on Thursday and Cal St. Bakersfield on Saturday, gives New Mexico State the biggest jump in this week’s rankings. It just goes to show you that if you play well as a team, it’s tough for anyone to beat you as all Aggies starters average double-figures in points.  

VCU (14-4, 4-1 A-10)

The Rams went 1-1 this past week. On Wednesday, they beat George Washington by an impressive 30 points, but they suffered their first loss in nine games at Davidson. VCU will be a contender for the A-10 title.

Wichita State (15-4, 5-1 MVC)

For the first time since the end of the 2013 season, the Shockers are out of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference after losing at Illinois State. Make no mistake, Gregg Marshall will have this team compete for another conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth.

Nevada (15-3, 4-1 MW)

The Nevada Wolfpack may be the most underrated team in the country. They have wins over two Pac-12 teams in Oregon State and Washington. All five of their starters are averaging better than 12 points per contest. The Wolfpack are another potential 12 seed in the tournament that could make a deep run.

Dayton (13-4, 4-1 A-10)

The Flyers had a very unimpressive week. UD lost to a UMass team they should have easily beaten. However, they did take care of business against a very mediocre Duquesne squad. Just like VCU, Dayton will be in the race for the A-10 title.

Just Missed the Cut: UNC Wilmington, Valparaiso, Middle Tennessee, Akron, Belmont

Players of the Week:  

Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga 
Goss proved to the haters he is one of the best guards in college basketball. The junior led his team with 19 points and 6 assists in the win over St. Mary’s on Saturday. Who said you had to go to a power six conference to be one of the best?

MiKyle McIntosh, Illinois State
If you haven’t seen this dude play, I’d highly recommend you get on that before the season ends. McIntosh put up 20 points in the victory over MVC rival Wichita State on Saturday. If the season ended today, McIntosh would be my pick for Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year.  

Alec Peters, Valparaiso 
After scoring 20 points in the win against Cleveland State on Monday, Peters is seven points away from breaking the Valparaiso career scoring record. Oh, and in the same game, he became the leading rebounder in the history of the program. Not a bad stretch of games for the senior.  

Must Watch Mid-Major Match-ups:

Thursday, January 19
Richmond @ Dayton (7:00 PM ET, ESPNU)

Saturday, January 21
Fort Wayne @ South Dakota State (5:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
Fresno State @ Nevada (6:00 PM ET, CBSSN)

Tuesday, January 24
Akron @ Western Michigan (7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

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