Picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, the Bulldogs now find themselves on the verge of being ranked and in my Top 26 down below. They just had two very quality quadrant one wins against Missouri State. What are they doing that make them this good?
Coach Darian DeVries took the full-court pressure defense he learned under Creighton head coach Dana Altman and an aggressive half-court defense he implemented himself to help create more opportunities to turn defense into offense. But it’s not just their defense.
The Bulldogs offer a deep rotation of eight players. Of those eight, seven are shooting over 45% from the field. Led by senior ShanQuan Hemphill, a transfer from Green Bay, who is leading the team in scoring averaging 14.7 PPG.
They can prove they are legit when they face Loyola Chicago, another fringe Top 25 team and recent March Madness cinderella, in a battle for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference. They were supposed to face off earlier this season but the game was cancelled because of COVID-19 issues.
Here is the Top 26.
Gonzaga and Baylor are distancing themselves from the rest of the field. There have not been two national title favorites this clear-cut in quite some time. Villanova is the closest team at three, with Michigan doing well in showing they could be the best team in the Big 10 after all. Iowa had a tough loss away at Illinois this week, but their resume and overall team are still better to me than Houston.
Alabama was one of the biggest risers the last two weeks after not even being ranked in my last Top 24. WVU is showing they can scrape by without Oscar Tshibwe after a very good win against Texas Tech in Lubbock. Virginia is a game ahead of FSU in the ACC after commanding wins against Syracuse and Clemson within the last two weeks.
Missouri is one of the more confusing teams in my Top 26. This past week they beat sixth-ranked Tennessee but then lost to unranked Auburn. They have good wins against sixth-ranked Illinois and #21 Oregon, but a bad loss to Mississippi St and a good loss to Tennessee.
17-20 have all been on some skids, as all four teams are the lowest I have had them all season. 22-26 are all new on my ranks as well, with Oklahoma and Colorado surging along with Drake.
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