January 18, 2010

Bears' split holds them steady in Mid-Major Top 25

CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25

GREELEY, Colo. -- It seems Northern Colorado men's basketball has reached the point where it can play just one great half of basketball out of a potential four in a week and not lose any ground in the minds of the nation's mid-major pundits.

The Bears, who struggled in a loss to Portland State last Friday night before trudging through the first 20 minutes Saturday against Eastern Washington before bouncing back after halftime in a big way and winning in Cheney, Wash., for the first time since beginning play there during the 1971-72 season, are No. 12 in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.

That's exactly where the Bears (16-4, 5-2 Big Sky) were ranked last week, too, when they reached their highest ever ranking in an NCAA Division I poll.

Northern Colorado claimed 386 points in this week's survey to come in just ahead of Western Kentucky (No. 13), the College of Charleston (No. 14) and Oakland (No. 15) and just behind Murray State (No. 11) and William & Mary (No. 10).

The Bears debuted at No. 25 in the Mid-Major Top 25 just before Thanksgiving and now move their school-record streak of being ranked in an NCAA Division I poll to nine weeks.

Northern Iowa (No. 1), Gonzaga, Butler, Cornell and Siena are the top five teams in this week's poll.

Northern Colorado, which is tied with Cornell and Vermont for the NCAA lead with 10 road/neutral site victories, will put its ranking on the line just once this week in a Friday-night showdown with Sacramento State (7-12, 1-5). That will be the first of four straight home games for Tad Boyle's program.

The poll of mid-major coaches is now in its eleventh season and is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt and West Coast.

BRACKET RACKET: Northern Colorado is still tied in the win column with Weber State atop the Big Sky Conference standings, but the Wildcats, winners of a three-overtime victory Saturday at Idaho State, have leapfrogged the Bears in this week's ESPN.com "Bracketology" report.