Because of the holidays, it was a rather slow week in the college basketball world, not excluding the Atlantic 10, which only had 14 games since we last convened. Not surprisingly, there was little shake-up in this week’s power rankings. Countdown is now 10 days until the conference schedule tips off on Jan. 9.
In 140 characters or less, like on Twitter, I’ll explain my picks.
1. Butler (10-2): A blowout win at Vandy won’t blow you away, but the Bulldogs are still the class of the conference, IMO, by a slim margin.
2. Virginia Commonwealth (10-3): Seven wins in a row and counting right now for a red-hot Rams team. This team is no joke.
3. Temple (8-2): The Owls didn’t play this week (their game vs. Detroit was postponed). A matchup at Kansas looms. Are they as good as we think?
4. Saint Louis (9-3): Kwamain Mitchell is officially back, which has made a dangerous team even more dangerous as the A-10 schedule looms.
5. La Salle (9-2): Time to start giving the Explorers credit. They’re not doing it against the best teams, but they’re winning. Galloway/Duren is a stud combo.
6. UMass (8-3): A five-point win against two-win N. Illinois won’t win you over, of course. The Minutemen are winners of 5 straight, albeit unconvincingly.
7. Dayton (9-4): An OT loss to USC isn’t awful, but in a week this slow in action, it hurts the Flyers in the power rankings.
8. Charlotte (11-2): The 49ers didn’t play this week, which means I’m still waiting for them to impress me.
9. Saint Joseph’s (6-4): The Hawks are back in the win column, but the preseason favorites to win the A-10 still have plenty to work on.
10. Xavier (7-5): Losses are suddenly starting to pile on for the Musketeers, who have now lost four of five since starting the season 6-1.
11. Richmond (9-5): The Spiders at once looked promising, but have suddenly lost three straight and have fallen back to earth.
12. St. Bonaventure (7-4): The Bonnies were off this week. Three of four losses have been by 5 points or less. They certainly could be better.
13. Duquesne (7-7): Chalk up another loss to the Dukes, the latest at Penn State. They’re off until A-10 play kicks off at Fordham on 1/9.
14. George Washington (6-6): Sure it was Sacred Heart, but the Colonials only gave up 38 points to them. Thirty-eight. Hmm…
15. Rhode Island (4-8): The Rams started the season 0-5 but are 4-3 since. Optimism!
16. Fordham (3-10): The Rams are the first in the conference to 10 losses and on the fast track to be the first to 20. What, too harsh?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Troy Daniels, VCU: I’ll give some love to a hot Rams team (7 straight wins) this week. Senior guard Troy Daniels hit a career-high nine 3-pointers en route to 27 points to lift VCU to a 96-67 blowout win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH
Ramon Galloway, La Salle: 18.4 points per game, 2.5 steals per game
Rotnei Clarke, Butler: 18.1 points per game, 4.2 3-pointers per game, 47.2 3-point percentage
Tyreek Duren, La Salle: 16.1 points per game, 1.6 steals per game
Chaz Williams, UMass: 16.1 points per game, 7.1 assists per game
Juvonte Reddic, VCU: 14.3 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, 1.8 steals per game
Isaiah Armwood, George Washington: 13.3 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game, 3.1 blocks per game
Khalif Wyatt, Temple: 16.2 points per game, 3.9 assists per game, 82.5 free throw percentage
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Saint Joseph’s at Drexel, Monday, 4 p.m.: A win over an inner-city rival could be just what the doctor ordered for the Hawks, who have been less than stellar in their first 10 games.
New Mexico at Saint Louis, Monday, 7:30 p.m.: Game of the week here as a likely ranked Lobos squad travels to SLU. Kwamain Mitchell is back for the Billikens, and while he is still easing his way into the lineup, he could make a big difference. A win for SLU would be big for the old tourney resume.
Temple at Kansas, Sunday, TBD: We saw the Owls take down then-No. 3 Syracuse, but that was at a neutral site at Madison Square Garden. Going into Lawrence and beating the Jayhawks is a different story. Will the real Temple please stand up? Game can be seen nationally on CBS.
Follow Stephen Hewitt on Twitter @steve_hewitt or send him an email at email@example.com.