Below are my latest Merit Rankings. Just a reminder that I only rank teams on the quality of their wins and the crappiness of their losses, not their perceived potential or overall strength. Teams like Louisville, Kentucky and Duke appear to be lower in the rankings than what I feel the overall strength of their team is, but until they beat someone that is better than mediocre, they’re going to be ranked behind all of the teams that have actually beaten someone good.
….and just so no one is confused by my notes “notable” loss means “detrimental to a degree.”
This works like a seed list that a selection committee member would put together, so the best team from each conference is included and in ALL CAPS.
Also, below are tonight’s highlighted games.
1. ARIZONA – best wins by far, and many away from home
2. WISCONSIN – very strong wins and no bad losses
3. VILLANOVA – strong wins, including the win against Kansas away from home
4. SYRACUSE – notable wins away from home in Maui
5. BAYLOR – several notable wins away from home
6. North Carolina – a bi-polar profile, but none of the losses were terrible and the win against Michigan State may be the best overall win so far
7. Michigan State – hasn’t looked good, but profile wise they’ve won their games
8. FLORIDA – Good profile, especially considering that they weren’t at full strength
9. Kansas – Decent wins and no bad losses. Colorado and Florida won’t lose many home games
10. UMASS – unbeaten. Lots of good wins. No great ones
11. Oregon – hasn’t always looked good, but they have decent wins and should be better once they’re at full strength
12. WICHITA STATE – the win at Saint Louis was better than what many may realize. Still, no great wins, but they are unbeaten
13. Colorado – No bad losses and some notable wins, albeit at home. The team is improving.
14. CONNECTICUT – unbeaten with notable wins
15. Iowa State – decent wins at home, and a good road win at BYU
16. Dayton – Neutral wins against Gonzaga and California. Road loss to Illinois State, which isn’t good, but not overly damaging
17. SAINT MARY’S – very good profile. Home wins against Drake, North Dakota State and Louisiana Tech. All decent programs. Road win at Boise State.
18. Iowa – Neutral wins against Xavier and Drake. Home win against Notre Dame. No bad losses.
19. SAN DIEGO STATE – Neutral wins against Crieighton and Marquette. Decent road win against San Diego. No bad losses
20. BELMONT – profile is bi-polar. Good road win against North Carolina. Decent road win against Middle Tennessee. Bad loss at South Dakota State
21. UC SANTA BARBARA – This an under the radar team that will be better than their final profile. Decnt road win at UNLV. Decent home win against Cal. No bad losses
22. Oklahoma State – This team is much better than their current ranking, but right now they just have one good win at home against Memphis, and decent neutral floor wins against Purdue and Butler.
23. Memphis – Neutral floor win against Oklahoma State
24. Vcu –Kind of a disappointment so far. Road wins against Virginia and Belmont, road loss to Northern Iowa.
25. Ucla – Decent home wins against Drexel and UCSB. No notable neutral or road wins. No bad losses
26. Ohio State – Decnt road win at Marquette. Decent home win against North Dakota State. No losses.
27. Gonzaga – best win is a neutral game against Arkansas. No bad losses.
28. Byu – Neutral wins against Texas and Utah State. Has 4 losses, but none that are that damaging.
29. New Mexico – decent win at New Mexico State. Decent home win against Cincinnati. No bad losses
30. George Washington – decent wins against Creighton (neutral) and Manhattan (road). No bad losses
31. DREXEL – no bad losses, but no really good wins either. Have played a lot of road games. Decent neutral win against Alabama (maybe)
32. Missouri – decent home win against UCLA. Has not played a true road game yet
33. Louisville – Best win is at home against Southern Miss. No bad losses
34. SOUTHERN MISS – decent road win against North Dakota State. No bad losses
35. NORTH DAKOTA STATE – Bad loss at North Dakota. Somewhat notable win at Notre Dame (maybe)
36. Utah State – Good road win at UCSB. No bad losses, but a somewhat damaging loss at home to Pacific
37. Kentucky – No bad losses, but their best win is at home against Boise State
38. Pacific – notable road win at Utah State. No bad losses
39. Lsu – notable neutral win against Butler. No bad losses
40. Uab – good home win against North Carolina. Damaging neutral loss to Temple.
41. Duke – No bad losses, but their best win is at home against Michigan, who has struggled
42. Michigan – best win is Florida State (neutral). 4 losses, only damaging one is Charlotte
43. Florida State – No bad losses. Best win is VCU (neutral)
44. Virginia – best wins are Missouri State (neutral) and SMU (neutral). Notable loss to Green Bay
45. Butler – Decent win against Princeton. No bad losses
46. Marquette – decent win against George Washington (neutral). Has lost 4 games, but none are overly damaging.
47. Minnesota – decent road win at Richmond. Notable neutral loss to Arkansas
48. Oklahoma – No good wins. No bad losses
49. PRINCETON – No good wins. No bad losses.
50. Harvard – decent neutral win against Green Bay.
51. GREEN BAY – decent home win against Virginia
52. Xavier – notable loss to USC (neutral). Decent win against Cincinnati (neutral) and Tennessee (home)
53. California – I think this team will rise, but they don’t have the profile yet. Only notable win is Arkansas (neutral)
54. Tennessee – decent win against Xavier (neutral). Bad loss to UTEP (neutral)
55. Georgetown – good neutral win against VCU. Bad loss to Northeastern
56. Arkansas – Decent win against Minnesota (neutral). No bad losses
57. Creighton – decent neutral win against Arizona State (for now). No bad losses
58. Texas – Good record, but no notable wins
59. NEW MEXICO STATE – No bad losses, but no really good wins yet either
60. Usc – decent neutral win against Xavier. 3 losses, the worst being to Wake Forest
61. Ole Miss – Good record, but no good wins
62. Boise State – Good record, but no good wins
63. Richmond – Decent home win against Belmont. Notable loss at Wake Forest
64. Pittsburgh – unbeaten against a weak schedule
65. Illinois – has just one loss against a weak schedule
66. TOLEDO – unbeaten against a weak schedule
67. Saint John’s – no good wins yet, but no really bad losses either
68. Saint Louis – good team, but doesn’t have any good wins yet
69. Stanford – good record, but no good wins
70. Clemson – good record, but no good wins
71. Cincinnati – good record, but no good wins other than a home win against NC State, who woll likely struggle on the road
72. NC CENTRAL – decent road win at NC State
73. Smu – good record, but no good wins
74. Drake – decent record, but no good wins
75. Missouri State – good record, but no good wins
76. Ohio – good record, but no good wins
77. Louisiana Lafayette – good record, but no good wins
78. MANHATTAN – Metro Atlantic leader
79. BUCKNELL – Patriot Leader
80. MERCER – Atlantic Sun leader
81. LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE – Sun Belt leader
82. NORTHERN COLORADO – Big Sky leader
83. STEPHEN F AUSTIN – Southland leader
84. STONY BROOK – America East leader
85. SAINT FRANCIS COLLEGE – Northeast Leader (formerly SFNY, but now wants to be called Saint Francis College, unlike Saint Francis University (SFPA, who wants to be called Saint Francis University)
86. WINTHROP – Big South Leader
87. ELON – SoCon leader
88. JACKSON STATE – SWAC leader
TONIGHT’S HIGHLIGHTED GAMES
-PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI. Both of these teams need to approach this with a huge sense of urgency. As you can see above, neither have done anything other than beat up on cupcakes yet.
-FLORIDA AT MEMPHIS. Both teams have wins of note, but one gets the sense that Memphis needs this a lot more.
-NEW MEXICO STATE AT NEW MEXICO. New Mexico won on the road earlier this year. New Mexico State should absolutely dominate the WAC, but they haven’t picked up a real signature win out of conference yet, and as weak as the WAC is, they better hope they don’t lose in the conference tournament if they are unable to pick up at least one decent win.
-CHARLOTTE AT FLORIDA STATE. This is an interesting game that both teams need. Both can be good when they want to be, but both also have a tendency to not show up. Charlotte has a noteworthy win against Michigan, but they have a bad loss at Charleston Southern and Michigan is struggling right now.
-MISSOURI STATE AT LOUISVILLE. Missouri State comes into this game with just one loss, and I believe they were without two of their starters for that game. Still, if they want to enter the discussion of being an at-large bid, they need to pull off a win of this caliber. Chances are they’re in over their heads.
-WICHITA STATE AT ALABAMA. Alabama has been disappointing this year, and Wichita has been strong both at home and on the road. This is a game that Bama really needs.
-BELMONT AT DENVER. (SEE HERE: http://hoopshd.com/2013/12/17/small-conference-game-of-the-day-december-17/
-SAINT BONAVENTURE AT WAKE FOREST. I don’t’ think we’ll see either of these teams in the discussion at the end, but for now they both have good records.
-TOLEDO AT ARKANSAS STATE. Toledo hasn’t beaten anyone good, but they’ve beaten all the teams they’ve played.
-YALE AT PROVIDENCE. A win for the Friars gets them to a modest 9-2.
-NORTH FLORIDA AT MICHIGAN STATE (buy game)
-DELAWARE STATE AT OKLAHOMA STATE (buy game)
-TX ARLINGTON AT OKLAHOMA (buy game)