There are two people in this world – those who love Feast Week and those who don’t realize just how great Feast Week is. Quite the array of exempt tournaments, pitting some of the best teams in the country up against each other culminated in an amazing Battle 4 Atlantis tournament with 8 probable tournament teams all duking it out. Interestingly enough, even in the two weeks since the last Forgotten 40 and quite a few games have been played, we still only saw 7 teams “graduate” out of eligibility by receiving recognition in the AP poll – and they were, expectedly, 6 of the 7 are from power conferences (if you count the A-10, which I do, as a “power conference”). All the better – it leaves more room for the actual “under-the-radar” teams, which is who these posts are designed to highlight.
- Colorado (9 – most recent F40 ranking)
- Illinois (15)
- Wichita State (18)
- Oregon (-)
- California (5)
- Temple (3)
- Xavier (17)
Colorado and Illinois have jumped into the actual Top 25, while the other 5 are just among the “others receiving votes.” In fact, since there has been two polls released since the last F40, there has been time for Xavier to receive votes and then fall back out. But, they have still graduated. Three Pac-12 teams gained recognition, as that league continues to exhibit the potential for a renaissance season.
The Forgotten Forty
There has been a ton of change from the last F40 because (a) it’s been two weeks and (b) we didn’t have all that much information last time – in fact, some teams on the list hadn’t even played a game yet. So, there is quite a different look to this list, but the concept remains the same.
- Illinois State (8) – A 3-point overtime loss to Northwestern is the only thing between the Redbirds and an impressive 6-0 start. They look every bit the team that people thought might challenge Creighton for the Valley title. Creighton and Wichita get all the press in the Valley, but Illinois State is right there with them.
- Ole Miss (10) – They have been in the top 10 of every F40 and all they’ve done is win 5 games by an average of 33 points, including their most recent – a 46-point shellacking of Lipscomb. Granted, they have all been home games against low-major teams, but they are just destroying people. It won’t be long until they get noticed, especially if they beat Rutgers and Middle Tennessee in their next two games.
- Belmont (4) – I know that the Bruins just lost to Northeastern and that that should knock them down a peg, but they followed that up with a win over Oral Roberts, and we cannot forget that they went into Maples Pavilion and handled a really good Stanford team earlier this month. This team could be really, really good.
- Iowa State (1) – They were number 1 on this list last time, but I guess two losses kept them from getting noticed, nationally. As for me, I do not consider an 8-point loss to Cincinnati and a 12-point loss at UNLV to be all that damning. Sprinkle in two more 20- and 29-point TCOB home games, and I don’t think any less of the Cyclones now than I did two weeks ago, it’s just a couple teams shot past them.
- Virginia (-) – Early losses to George Mason and Delaware have kept the Cavs off of this list all year, but 4 straight wins, including a very impressive 6-point win on the road at Wisconsin should make people take notice of this year’s Cavs team.
- George Mason (-) – Maybe it’s unfair to put the Patriots below UVA, considering they beat them head-to-head to start the season. And, Mason’s only two losses were a 5-point loss at Bucknell and a devastating 1-point loss to New Mexico on a crazy finish. If they beat Maryland this weekend, they will either shoot up this list or shoot right off it by gaining national respect.
- Boise State (-) – Even a really close loss at Michigan State and a 13-point win at Creighton won’t be enough to get the Broncos noticed – mainly because they play in a top 4 league that no one realizes is a top 4 league.
- BYU (2) – The Cougars have been a mainstay on this list, as they were top 3 in each of the first two editions. And, their only losses were to Florida State and Notre Dame, so the Cougars remain high on this list, but they need a signature win at some point to stay this high. A trip to Iowa State on Saturday gives them a chance to either move way up or way down on this list.
- Virginia Tech (-) – The first notice of the post-Greenberg Era at Va Tech here, as the Hokies are 6-0, including a 16-point win over a solid Iowa team. They have interesting tests against OK State and West Virginia on the horizon, so we’ll see who they are quickly.
- St. John’s (-) – Trivia question – which is the only team in the country, coached by a former championship coach, that returns at least 4 starters from a nationally-ranked team a year ago? You could have given me two hours, and I wouldn’t have come up with St. John’s. And, while they did lost all-everything Mo Harkless, D’Angelo Harrison is more than ready to carry the torch for Coach Lavin, who still enjoys one of the youngest teams in the nation.
- Middle Tennessee State (14) – This team continues to roll through their non-conference schedule and added a 14-point road win in the Cajun Dome last night to start Sun Belt action.
- Oregon State (-) – People ought to take notice now because this ain’t your dad’s Beavers. They are big, talented, and deep, and, while the loss of Jared Cunningham is huge, they return a ton of experience, as well. If you want a sleeper in the Pac-12 to challenge the trainwreck at UCLA as the 2nd-best team in the Pac, you might want to look to Corvallis.
- Purdue (-) – I have to admit, the 12-point win at Clemson is probably carrying more weight than it should, but that was a really impressive win to me because I think highly of the Tigers. These Boilermakers are rebuilding, but they might have something left for this year, as well.
- Akron (-) – An overtime loss at Coastal Carolina knocked the Zips off this list in Week 2, but since then, they took OK State to overtime and beat UNC-Asheville and Penn State by 19 and 25, respectively. With a poor man’s Roy Hibbert in the middle (Zeke Marshall) and a solid backcourt (Alex Abreu and Brian Walsh), don’t be surprised if the Zips challenge Ohio for the MAC crown this year.
- Clemson (16) – Before the 12-point loss at home to Purdue, the Tigers were looking really good, including maybe their best showing by only losing by 8 to a Top-5 worthy Gonzaga team. Their next two games are at South Carolina and home against Arizona – check back after those and we will talk.
- Oklahoma (27) – A win over a struggling WVU team is really the only impressive win for the Sooners, but, with the exception of a 25-point loss to Gonzaga, they have been taking care of business. They are hard to judge right now
- Vermont (-) – The Catamounts just keep winning and winning on the road. Wins at Siena, Northeastern, and Harvard are very impressive. They travel to URI, Quinnipiac, and Niagara to close out their northeastern tour.
- Southern Miss (-) – Even without Larry Eustachy this team continues to roll. Undefeated through six relatively tough games and this team may not miss a beat from last year’s tournament team.
- Richmond (13) – The Spiders opened my eyes by winning their first two games by a combined 85 points. While they did struggle in losses to Minnesota and Ohio, they still have the looker of a potential A-10 sleeper. They still have a grueling non-conference slate left, so we may know real well just how good this team is.
- South Dakota State (7) – You know how much I like this Jackrabbit team, but a loss to Hofstra is almost inexcusable, even if they followed it up with a nice win over Marshall.
- Wyoming (-) – Typical Wyoming – they haven’t played anyone, but at least they’re not losing. The schedule makes it hard to really tout the Cowboys, but they are 7-0 and just recently pounded UCSB by 28 on the road in the Thunderdome.
- Charlotte (-) – Talk about coming out of nowhere to potential relevance. The 49ers are 6-0 and playing really well. Their next two games (ECU and @Davidson) will be their toughest to date, so let’s talk again next week.
- Harvard (-) – The Crimson are only 2-3, but all three losses are to solid teams (UMass, St. Joe’s, and UVM) and one of the wins was a 34-point plastering of a decent Manhattan team (I may or may not have lost money on the Jaspers in that one).
- Iowa (12) – The Hawkeyes looked real good out of the gates, but have recently slipped up against two good teams – Wichita and Va Tech – so the jury’s still out.
- College of Charleston (-) – It is amazing how high you can climb on this list with a simple 4-point win at Baylor.
- Kent State (-) – OT wins over Drexel and Youngstown State, along with a 14-point win over Nebraska and an OT loss to Valpo give the Golden Flashes something to build on going forward. Being dominated by Temple and barely squeaking by Bethune-Cookman give them something with which to temper expectations.
- LSU (22) – 5-0 including a win over Seton Hall have people at least talking about the Tigers again. An upcoming 3-game road trip to Boise, Irvine, and Marquette may show us what we need to know.
- Stephen F. Austin (-) – The Lumberjacks are only 2-0 against D-I teams (2-0 against D-II teams), but both wins were on the road, with the latest a 16-point thumping of Tulsa. This might still be the class of the Southland even though Oral Roberts has come over this year.
- Louisiana Tech (-) – The most surprisingly good team in the most surprisingly good conference in the first month of the season is probably 6-1 La Tech, who is fresh off a 37-point domination of rival SE Louisiana. The new-look WAC is actually really solid.
- Florida Gulf Coast (25) – The Ospreys got on the list by beating Miami (FL) and stay on the list with wins over Toledo and Samford. Not embarrassing themselves in road games at Duke, VCU, and St. John’s doesn’t hurt either.
- Loyola (MD) (36) – The projected class of the MAAC has performed as such in the early going, starting 7-1 with the only loss coming at Washington. A big game with the FGC team that sits one spot above them on this list is upcoming.
- Utah State (-) – Utah State has played every game this year within 10 points, winning 4 of the 5, including an OT win on the road against a decent Santa Clara team. They travel to Provo for a grudge match with BYU this weekend.
- East Carolina (-) – 5-0 so far without a whole lot of meat, but the Pirates look decent doing it, so we’ll give them some ink here before a trip to Charlotte and then one to Chapel Hill.
- North Dakota State (40) – After sitting at #40 on each of the first two installments of the F40, the Bison have put together a nice couple of wins and get to climb up a few spots.
- Stonybrook (32) – As good as Vermont has looked in the early going, SB has been pretty good as well, including their most recent 23-point win at Cornell.
- Indiana State (-) – The Valley gets a lot of press these days (which is great), but not necessarily the Sycamores, who take on New Mexico this weekend in a game that could catapult them near the top of this list if they win it.
- TX-Arlington (-) – Yet another WAC team on the list, as newcomer to the conference, UTA, has 3 solid road wins and one 4-point loss to Oklahoma on their resume.
- San Francisco (-) – Rex Walters’ crew has won 3 straight by double-digits, including a 20-point win over a decent Columbia team. They have a really tough 4-game stretch coming up and then close their non-conf with San Diego St., so more is to be learned about this team soon.
- Gardner-Webb (-) – A win at DePaul and close road losses to St. John’s and Illinois (1 point) have the wide-open Big South considering GW a real threat.
- SMU (-) – And, rounding out this list is a team that is VERY short on talent and yet sits at 7-1. How are they doing it? Three words: Best. Coach. Ever. If aliens came from another planet threatening to destroy Earth if we don’t beat them in basketball, I would hope that we are smart enough to have Larry Brown coach the human team.
- Central Florida (6)
- Northwestern (11)
- Youngstown State (19)
- Arkansas (20)
- Iona (21)
- UTEP (23)
- UMass (24)
- Delaware (26)
- Wagner (28)
- USC-Upstate (29)
- Detroit (30)
- Manhattan (31)
- Mercer (33)
- South Alabama (34)
- UC-Irvine (35)
- Western Kentucky (37)
- Montana (38)
- Stetson (39)
With two weeks of games, there were quite a few teams that didn’t do enough to stay in the rankings. I was, admittedly, a bit harsh on Northwestern, but they looked terrible against Maryland the other night. Arkansas went from #1 on the first list to #20 on the second list to out altogether on this one – and all they did was pound low-major teams and lose close games to major conference teams. But, that is the danger being a major conference team stuck in the F40 – you won’t get much sympathy from me.
Until next week…