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Memphis and Michigan State are Playing Their Way Up the Bracket - Oklahoma State and Creighton are Not

With teams reaching the middle of conference play, we have a large enough sample size by now to understand which teams are real contenders and which teams were pretenders coming out of non-conference play. In an effort to see which teams have moved the most in the rankings between the start of conference play and now – I compared all 347 teams rankings in my system between February 15th and January 1st.

There’s going to be a little bit of shuffling each day, but which teams had the most dramatic moves? The largest jump up in the rankings were the Vermont Catamounts (132 spots, 235-> 103) and the largest fall were the Bradley Braves (138 spots, 168-> 306). However, the movements in the bottom half of the rankings are much more volatile, and not nearly as interesting.

Movers Within SevenOT Top 50: 1/1/13 to 2/15/13

As you can see in the above chart, Memphis is one of the biggest movers in my system – and they are one the schools where I have a large variance from the poll consensus (#22 AP, #25 Coaches).

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Despite being #8 in both polls (and fresh off a win over #4 Michigan), Michigan St is still only ranked #32. I think this is mostly due to a lack of real blowout wins. They have a great record, but lots of one-possession wins – even over good teams – will not impress the SevenOT system. However, as Strength of Schedule becomes more important as the season progresses, those non-conference games against Kansas, Miami, Connecticut will help when combined with their difficult B1G schedule.

Of teams that are moving in the wrong direction – Oklahoma St. and Creighton are leading the way. I had both schools ranked in the top 10 six weeks ago. I saw Oklahoma St listed at 45/1 over Christmas, and it was down to 300/1 last night. The only real blemish on Oklahoma State’s resume is a road loss to a mediocre Va Tech team. Their fall is mostly due to several close wins, and a rough patch in early January.

[RELATED: Bracketology: Two ACC Teams Get No. 1 Seeds?]

With high-scoring Doug McDermott, the Creighton Bluejays were the most popular mid-major earlier in the season. However, after winning 11 straight, and reaching #12 in the polls, Creighton has faltered in conference play – dropping 5 of 8 and falling out of the AP poll entirely. They are still an experienced team with a superstar on their roster – a dangerous combination for anyone who meets them in March.

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