Pyramid: Where do the teams fall in current bracket projections?

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

I'm adding a new element to the Pyramid today, and for the remainder of the regular season. We've got just four editions of the Pyramid left, including today's, and so we'll get to looking at how these teams sort out in the greater scheme of the bracket. This all per our own Jerry Palm, who's got a whole wing of Marchy/bubble/bracket/RPI wonkyness on the site.

Let's get to the new order, which is the same at the top but tossed about in the middle -- and features a new team.

Top Tier

1. Gonzaga (25-2)
Why it's here: Same ol', same ol'. And instead of simply moving on to other matters, credit to Gonzaga for going on the road at Saint Mary's and San Francisco and getting wins. Why's that noteworthy? Well ...

Something you should know: It was the first time since '09 that Gonzaga won at both places, and in fact, since 2005, '06 was the only other year that happened. Winning on this sort of scale only happens in three or four cases per year in college hopes. It's good to see Gonzaga doing this again.

Jerry Palm says: A No. 1 seed in the West, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday vs. Santa Clara; Saturday vs. San Diego.

2. New Mexico (22-4)
Why it's here: Lobos won at Fresno State then beat Boise State in the past five days, maintaining a tie in the loss column atop the Mountain West standings. That has turned into a really fun league race. Both teams are trending toward being rewarded with No. 4 seeds or better.

Something you should know: And look at at that. These two teams get to play in five nights from now. UNM won the first one, 66-61, on Jan. 23. I think the Rams return serve.

Jerry Palm says: No. 3 in the West, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Saturday at Colorado State.

3. Memphis (22-3)
Why it's here: Has not lost since Dec. 15 and its three losses are to three good teams: VCU, Minnesota and Louisville.

Something you should know: You see where Palm has them ranked below. The Tigers aren't getting a lot of respect from our resident bracketologist because, as it stands, the Tigers could reach the NCAA tournament without beating another team in the field. The best wins are against Northern Iowa, Ohio and Tennessee. Memphis fans aren't used to gaudy records not being rewarded with good seeds. I'll say this: If Memphis does run the table in this league, then loses, let's say, in the C-USA title game. It would have four losses. I think it would receive a No. 6 seed in that situation. Palm would probably put it a 7 or 8, I'm guessing.

Jerry Palm says: No. 8 in the Midwest, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday vs. Houston; Saturday vs. Southern Miss.

A Cut Below

4. Colorado State (21-4).
Why it's here: It honestly is looking and playing as good as any of the teams ranked above it. I nearly put CSU over Memphis. If it beats New Mexico and goes 2-0 this week, chances are high the Rams will be No. 2 in next Monday's period, the last one for February. But it's too much to ask Larry Eustachy's team to win the next two and keep the streak going.

Something you should know: The game against New Mexico will almost certainly determine the MWC regular-season champ. CSU has never won the Mountain West title in the regular season. It's taken just one tournament championship, back in '03.

Jerry Palm says: No. 5 in the Midwest, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday at UNLV; Saturday vs. New Mexico.

La. Tech: This year's true Cinderella?. (US Presswire)

5. Louisiana Tech (23-3).
Why it's here: Why not? La. Tech has more than earned it. After two more road games, two more victories and a 14-0 WAC record. It's the best streak/start in league play in school history. The Bulldogs have officially reached the point where we'll feel sorry for them if they can't keep it together and peel off enough wins to warrant an at-large, should they not win the WAC tourney title.

Something you should know: Most wins in a season in Louisiana Tech history? The '84-85 team with Karl Malone went 29-3, making the Sweet 16 in the process. This team would eclipse that mark if it won out to the WAC title game. And there is no Karl Malone on this team.

Jerry Palm says: No. 13 in the Midwest, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday vs. NAIA Central Baptist College.

6. Wichita State (22-5).
Why it's here: Well, WSU led Illinois State 5-4 Sunday night, then didn't take a lead again until Cleanthony Early hit a 3 with 4.8 to go. And this after Early was late to the party, not scoring his first field goal until 2:05 remained in the game. The Shockers went 8-0 in the last 35 seconds, ripped the game away from the Redbirds, and are now an 11-4 MVC team. It was arguably an at-large-saving win. WSU had no business winning the game, but it all began with a karate kick to the chest. I'm not moving it up or down for this.

Something you should know: In the past three seasons, Wichita State is 25-7 on the road, trailing only Kansas (22-5) and Murray State (29-8) in road win percentage.

Jerry Palm says: No. 10 in the East, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Tuesday at Illinois State; Saturday vs. Detroit.

7. Creighton (21-6).
Why it's here: The Jays lost again, this time last Wednesday at Northern Iowa. If you had asked me to bet on Jan. 15, when Creighton had one loss, if the Bluejays would take six total losses, minimally, all season, I probably would've wagered as much as $500 that they wouldn't. This is why I don't gamble.

Something you should know: Creighton, at 59.4 percent, is still shooting the highest effective field goal percentage (eFG%) in the nation. With the exception of Denver, every team since 2005 has made the NCAAs by topping the country in eFG%.

Jerry Palm says: No. 10 in the South, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Tuesday vs. Southern Illinois; Saturday at Saint Mary's.

8. Akron (21-4).
Why it's here: The nation's longest winning streak is now at 17 games, and we've about reached the point where the Zips deserve widespread love for what they've been able to pull together here.

Something you should know: Outside of the sleep-not-out-of-their-eyes-yet loss to Coastal Carolina that opened the season, Akron's other losses are to Creighton, Oklahoma State and Detroit, three teams who could easily be in the tournament.

Jerry Palm says: No. 13 in the South, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Friday vs. North Dakota State.

9. UNLV (19-7).
Why it's here: The Rebels are ping-ponging. They're 4-4 since Jan. 19. They're not reliable, but remain talented. Very talented. They're practically the same team as San Diego State, which Vegas beat at home Saturday. For that, I guess I need to keep Dave Rice's team one slot above Steve Fisher's. It's been this way most of the year.

Something you should know: UNLV could be on its way to being a poor man's Gonzaga. What I mean by that: regular season brings signs of a good team, and in fact they make the NCAA tournament. But once there, a bit of a flop. UNLV has been to all but one tournament since 2007 after hitting a dry spell in the early aughts. But its only Sweet 16 came in the '07 tourney. This team has the ability to make the second weekend. If it doesn't, criticism can be had, certainly.

Jerry Palm says: No. 6 in the East, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday vs. Colorado State; Saturday at Wyoming.

10. San Diego State (18-7).
Why it's here: Like UNLV, is 6-5 in the Mountain West. I won't kill the Aztecs because they just played CSU and Vegas on the road, this after beating Boise State and Fresno State at home. In fact, I said this very thing last week. It remains true: "I'm staying put on the Aztecs because it's not only possible, but likely, it drops its next two games."

Something you should know: This is pretty fascinating. As of this post, SDSU is performing at an adjusted pace of 87.7 points per 100 possessions, according to KenPom.com. That is the exact rate the No. 2-seeded Aztecs of 2011 -- by far the best team in that school's history -- had a year's end. That year, the 87.7 was good for third-best in the country. What does 87.7 get you in 2013? Just 15th-best overall. How about that? The defenses, the officiating, they are changing the game.

Jerry Palm says: No. 7 in the South, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Tuesday vs. Wyoming; Saturday vs. Nevada.

Base Blocks

Kermit Davis and MTSU are rolling as of late. (US Presswire)

11. Middle Tennessee State (23-4).
Why it's here: The Blue Raiders have won 12 straight and are one of 17 teams in the country with only four losses or less. With all of the losing beyond this spot in the past week, it was easy to vault MTSU to No. 11.

Something you should know: To the MTSU fans who razzed me last week for keeping the Blue Raiders out, I did give this team love in the Pyramid earlier this season -- for one week -- before it lost. Let's not have that happen again, all right? And what's so funny: I got so much hate response for the snub, then I owned up to it, and now they love me down there in Murfreesboro. Apparently, a T-shirt is on its way. I may have to don it and snap a shot for next week's rankings -- if MTSU keeps winning.

Jerry Palm says: No. 12 in the East, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Thursday vs. South Alabama; Saturday vs. Louisiana Monroe.

12. Saint Mary's (22-5).
Why it's here: The second half of SMC's toughest four-game stretch of the season concludes this week with a home game against a game conference rival, then a BracketBusters hosting vs. an offensive juggernaut. SMC pretty much has to win both or hope it wins the league tourney title in Vegas in a couple of weeks.

Something you should know: Beau Levesque, a good player you probably don't know enough about, is putting up nearly 1.3 points per possession -- a top-16 rate in the nation. Matthew Dellavedova is largely responsible for this.

Jerry Palm says: In the First Four, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Thursday vs. BYU; Saturday vs. Creighton.

13. Belmont (20-6).
Why it's here: Dropped two of its past three on the road amid a four-game trip. Still the best team in the Ohio Valley, and as stated above, if it were to play on a neutral against an unlisted-but-considered team -- say, Ohio -- tonight on a court in Jacksonville, I'd go with Belmont. And look at that. Look who Belmont's got in BracketBusters in just a few days. That makes it easy.

Something you should know: The Bruins have not lost back-to-back games since 2011.

Jerry Palm says: No. 12 in the West, as of early Monday morning.

Up Next: Thursday at Eastern Illinois; Saturday vs. Ohio.

14. Bucknell (21-5).
Why it's here: Was a bit worried Bucknell would buckle leading into the Lehigh tilt, and it did just that, falling at Lafayette by one Saturday. The game against Lehigh tonight, Monday, amounts to a Pyramid consideration elimination game.

Something you should know: If you're relatively new to the Pyramid party with a few of these teams, Bucknell's weakness is its inability to turn teams over/steal the ball. The Bison are slow to the swipe, only stealing the orange away on 5.6 of opponents' possessions, the second-worst rate in the country. (Fellow Patriot League resident American is the worst at 5.4.)

Jerry Palm says: No. 14 in the East, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Monday at Lehigh; Sunday vs. Holy Cross.

15. Stephen F. Austin (21-3).
Why it's here: So here's how this works. I kept SFA so low, but in the mix, all of 2013. It took a bad loss at Southeastern Louisiana State over the weekend. But it's in the midst of a four-game road slide. I'm giving a pass. Probably the last loss SFA can take this year, though.

Something you should know: SFA's only tourney bid in school history came in 2009, when the Jacks finished 24-8 and were 13-3 in league play. Clearly ahead of that pace this season.

Jerry Palm says: No. 13 in the West, as of early Monday morning.

Up next: Wednesday at Sam Houston State; Saturday at Long Beach State.


Outside the Pyramid:

-- With another loss, it was time for Boise State to go. Eight is just too many for Pyramid quality at this points.

-- I spot the Ohio Bobcats wanting to get back in. Here's the deal. Ohio-Belmont, this Saturday in BracketBusters, for all the Pyramid love. Winner's in next week, loser is out.

-- The same could be true of Lehigh-Bucknell's winner this week.

-- Montana, fell hard at Weber State. It's going to need to beat Davidson this weekend. Weber State (19-5), by the way, is probably No. 16 in the overall scheme as of today.

-- Valpo loses to Detroit, which is good for the Horizon chase but not good for any Pyramid love the rest of the way, most likely.

-- Central Florida: good, not good enough.

-- Murray State just dropped two ugly ones, at SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois. Its consideration is gone.

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and college hoops newsletter. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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