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College Basketball Rankings - MRI 2011-12, Week 9

January 24, 2012  |  By Benjamin Miraski

This is a great year for the smaller conferences, the ones that don't get all the facetime on ESPN.

Only the media and the coaches have it wrong all because of a zero in the loss column.

You see, Murray State isn't the best non-major team in the country. They aren't even in the top five as far as the MRI is concerned. They may have a great record (20-0 is nothing to sneeze at), but the quality of the team isn't like the Butlers of the last couple of years.

Nor is it like the Gonzaga teams that were great before anyone knew where Gonzaga was. It isn't even as good as the George Mason team that shocked everyone but readers of the MRI.

They are a solid basketball team, just not the best.

Take away three of the wins right away; they came against non-Division 1 teams.

Then look for the best wins. Hey look, a win over a ranked team. It was No. 20 Memphis, back in early December. Only Memphis doesn't look as good as it did then. The Tigers aren't even getting votes in the polls any longer. The MRI has them at No. 48 and the verge of becoming irrelevant.

Southern Mississippi was another win of some importance. After all, Conference USA is still somewhat of a major conference. Only the Golden Eagles are barely better than Memphis at this point. At least they get a little love from the coaches.

And then Dayton. The Flyers have been up, then way down, and back up again. They are currently No. 33 in the MRI, within shouting distance of the top 25 (and Murray State).

But when the season ends, does anyone really want their best win to be over Dayton? It doesn't make any sense.

So, no, Murray State is not the No. 10 team in the country. Murray State is not the No.12 team in the country. Murray State shouldn't even be in the top 25 based on who they have played.

It is nice to be undefeated (and the MRI loves undefeated teams, and treats them differently when they beat you), but it doesn't automatically make you great, just as losing every game doesn't automatically make you the worst team in the country.

Instead, the media and the coaches should be praising teams like St. Mary's, who at 17-2 is making a strong case for not just being on the top five lines in March, but should be considered for a "protected" spot and a virtual home game. While the Gaels are missing the major conference win, they have proven themselves in the top-heavy WCC (BYU and Gonzaga) and against the best in the Missouri Valley (They will get a bracket buster game too).

The same could be said for UNLV and Wichita State. Or how about those Bulldogs from Spokane, or Creighton. People need to start recognizing that a big zero doesn't define a team.

Yet in Murray State's case, the "0" has become what that team is all about.

The MRI even believes that Middle Tennessee State from the Sun Belt conference is better than the Racers. At least the Blue Raiders have played teams from real major conferences (and won both, against Mississippi and UCLA).

At least in the Bracket Project , the Racers are on the six line. It is close to where the MRI would slot them (the rest of the Project does not agree so nicely). The inputs, such as a three-seed from several outlets, are a little nuts though. There is also one site that doesn't even mention Murray State (totally not right).

Then again, this is the site that accused me of being nuts for rating George Mason and some other mid-majors high.

Murray State is still a good team, and the Racers will likely be in the tournament should they not make it through the OVC tournament. They just aren't among the top 12 teams in the country.

MRI Top 25 Rankings

1Ohio State17-3183.542
3North Carolina16-3144.813
5Michigan State15-4136.205
7St. Mary's17-2128.957
13Wichita State16-3117.5115
15Saint Louis14-4113.8021
16West Virginia15-5113.1219
20Seton Hall15-4112.2811
21Florida State13-6111.3822

Teams Dropped From The Top 25: None.
On the Bubble: Georgetown, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas State, Murray State, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Dayton, Alabama, North Carolina State, Wyoming.
Wofford Watch: Wofford (10-8) is currently 152nd in the MRI, with a score of 37.49.
Most Average Team: Loyola Marymount (9-8), with a score of 30.46.
Last Place this week: Grambling (2-15) at -99.23. 9th week in a row, and opening up some room on Binghamton.
Biggest Gain this week: Wyoming gained 14.37 points. (Beat Air Force 64-54, and Colorado State 70-51)
Biggest Loss this week: South Carolina State lost 24.56 points. (Lost to Florida A&M 86-69, and Savannah State 83-53)
Conference rankings this week: Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, ACC, Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, PAC-12, Conference USA.

Posted January 24, 2012 2:41 PM

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