As the season progresses and the Omicron variant continues to plow its way through the United States, college basketball has transitioned into its 2020-21 version. Cancellations and postponements are more prevalent than ever and fan attendance continues to subside.
Despite the seemingly never-ending shuffle of schedules, the majority of the City 6 have played at least 10 games and we now have a pretty good understanding of who each team is. That said, below are the power rankings of the men’s and women’s City 6 teams:
6. Saint Joseph’s Hawks
Record: 5-10, 1-2 A-10
It was only a month ago that things were looking up for the Hawks, who won three in a row, including Big 5 victories at Penn and Temple. But they’re just 1-4 since, a string of postponements right around the new year robbing them of their momentum, and now a young SJU squad has to figure out how to win in Atlantic 10 play. The play of freshmen Talya Brugler (9.1 ppg), Mackenzie Smith (7.7 ppg) and Julia Nÿstrom (4.5 ppg) has been encouraging, and getting grad forward Alayna Gribble (7.7 ppg) back from injury will be a boost for leaders Katie Jekot (10.3 ppg) and Kaliah Henderson (10.2 ppg). Four of the next five come on the road, including a tough trip to Fordham and a return game at La Salle.
Next Up: @ St. Bonaventure (Jan. 21), @ Fordham (Jan. 26), vs. UMass (Jan. 29)
5. Penn Quakers
Record: 7-8, 2-1 Ivy League
It’s been a tough season for the Quakers, who started off 4-1 but then lost six in a row, a skid they still haven’t quite recovered from. Their two league wins, against Dartmouth and Brown, were against two programs with a combined 6-25 record this season, before a 20-point loss to Princeton where Penn was never really in the game. They’ve got chances to prove themselves coming up with a trip to Yale (10-6, 3-1) and then home games against Harvard (8-9, 2-3) and Columbia (11-3, 2-0), but a couple more losses could quickly put the Quakers in an uphill battle to reach the Ivy playoffs come March. Kayla Padilla (21.7 ppg) continues to have a strong season, with support from Jordan Obi (13.1 ppg) and Mia Lakstigala (10.3 ppg).
Next Up: @ Yale (Jan. 22), vs. Harvard (Jan. 29), vs. Columbia (Feb. 4)
Mia Davis (above) and Temple picked up wins in their first two conference games to move in the right direction. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
4. Temple Owls
Record: 7-6, 2-0 American
After an early stretch where the Owls picked up some quality wins, they entered a bit of a slide, losing three of four, before righting the ship and winning their first two American Athletic Conference contests, with a couple others (and a Big 5 game against Penn) postponed. Now they’ve got four of their next five on the road, so we’ll find out soon just how for real Temple is this season. Mia Davis, who recently passed the 2000-point mark, is the offensive leader, averaging 18.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg, followed by Jiselle Thomas (10.4 ppg) and Alexa Williamson (10.2), while freshman Aniya Gourdine is averaging 9.7 ppg over her last nine.
Next Up: vs. Houston (Jan. 15), @ ECU (Jan. 19), @ South Florida (Jan. 22)
3. La Salle Explorers
Record: 9-6, 2-1 A-10
Following a back and forth start to the season, the Explorers are starting to find their footing. They are 6-3 over their last nine games, including a terrific A-10 win over Fordham, which was riding a five game win streak, and the Big 5 win over St. Joe’s. The focal point of the Explorers offense is forward Kayla Spruill, who leads the team in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (9.1), though they’ve also gotten a boost from Morehead State transfer Gabby Crawford, who’s averaging 13.8 ppg and 4.8 rpg in her first four contests, including 15 points in just 14 minutes against St. Joe’s. Three more wins and they’re already at last year’s total, five more and it’s the most they’ve won in Mountain MacGillivray’s four years.
Next Up: @ George Mason (Jan. 21), vs. Richmond (Jan. 23), @ St. Bonaventure (Jan. 26)
The return of Maddy Siegrist (above) has been a huge boost for 'Nova. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
2. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 9-6, 3-3 Big East
Denise Dillon’s squad started the season 3-5 with their best player, Maddy Siegrist, out for the majority of those contests. But since Siegrist has returned from her wrist injury, the Wildcats have won six of their last seven, including a 56-52 victory over No. 23 Oregon State back on Dec. 12. Siegrist’s 22.3 ppg would rank 7th in Division I if she’d played enough to be eligible, and she’s bringing in 9.6 rebounds a night. Lior Garzon (13.7 ppg) and Brianna Herlihy (11.7 ppg/8.6 rpg) round out the ‘Cats in double figures. The Wildcats have a schedule set up to keep rolling, with the next four at home, including some chance at revenge against Creighton for a 72-58 December defeat sans Siegrist.
Next Up: vs. Providence (Jan. 21), vs. Creighton (Jan. 23), vs. Butler (Jan. 28).
1. Drexel Dragons
Record: 13-2, 5-0 CAA
Was there any doubt? The Dragons aren’t just the hottest team in the city, regardless of gender, but they’re one of the hottest in the country, with 10 straight wins after beating conference co-leader Towson 58-54 on Tuesday night, setting up another unbeaten matchup with Delaware on Sunday to determine who’s really on top of the CAA nearing the midpoint of the league schedule. Amy Mallon’s squad is getting terrific production from its top six, led by senior Keishana Washington (17.7 ppg), grad forward Tessa Brugler (13.7 ppg/9.3 rpg), and fifth-year guard Hannah Nihill (11.7 ppg/4.7 apg). Go see them play.
Next Up: vs. Delaware (Jan. 23), @ Elon (Jan. 28), @ William & Mary (Jan. 30)
6. Saint Joseph’s Hawks
Record: 7-8, 1-3 A-10
It looked like the Hawks were starting to put things together — wins in four of five games, including Georgetown, Penn and Temple — back in late November and into early December, but they’ve now lost five of their last six after a deflating 11-point home loss to La Salle on Monday, leaving us no choice but to have them in the No. 6 slot. The good news is that Davidson (No. 47) and Rhode Island (No. 69) are both top-70 teams according to hoops statistician Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, and some more winnable games are ahead in GW (No. 279) and Duquesne (210). They need to get more bench production, especially from Dahmir Bishop (4.4 ppg) and Jack Forrest (4.1 ppg).
Next Up: vs. George Washington (Jan. 19), @ VCU (Jan. 22), @ George Mason (Jan. 24)
Jack Clark (above) and La Salle beat St. Joe's on Monday to move up the rankings. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
5. La Salle Explorers
Record: 6-8, 1-3 A-10
After starting the season out 5-4, the Explorers then dropped four straight, losing to Bucknell (82-70), Fordham (69-61), VCU (85-66) and St. Bonaventure (80-76 OT), before bouncing back with that 75-64 win at St. Joe’s. Last season, there was a lack of a number one option on offense and this year, that theme continues to persist as Josh Nickelberry leads the Explorers in scoring at 11.9 ppg. Big man Clifton Moore (11.2 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures, with Jack Clark (9.4 ppg) right behind after scoring 21 against St. Joe’s. To make matters worse, reigning A-10 Sixth Man of the Year Sherif Kenney (8.7 ppg) entered the transfer portal prior to the Fordham matchup, and has committed to Bryant. But this team still has the pieces to turn it around if they can figure out a winning mixture.
Next Up: @ Rhode Island (Jan. 19), vs. Richmond (Jan. 22), vs. UMass (Jan. 26)
4. Penn Quakers
Record: 6-12, 3-2 Ivy
Coming off a year break because of the pandemic, the Quakers loaded their schedule early in the year, playing nine games between Nov. 10-28. During that stretch, Penn was only able to come away with three wins, a couple key injuries and a general lack of experience the main factors as well as a number of difficult opponents. They’re off to a solid start in Ivy play, though the loss to Columbia at home could come back to haunt them down the road, while beating Brown in the league opener was their best win so far. Difficult stretch coming up, and they’re going to need some help for Jordan Dingle (17.9 ppg), and to make significant improvement defensively (282nd nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom).
Up Next: vs. Yale (Jan. 22), @ Harvard (Jan. 28), @ Columbia (Feb. 4)
3. Drexel Dragons
Record: 7-7, 2-2 CAA
This was supposed to be the time when we find out whether or not the Dragons are ready to break a 10-year string of not finishing above .500 in conference play, but some COVID delays and an injured James Butler (13.4 ppg/9.7 rpg) have kept Zach Spiker’s group from gaining too much traction in CAA play. Beating Towson was a nice result, and there’s no shame in losing at Hofstra — with sophomore Xavier Bell dropping 30 points — or at home to Delaware sans Butler, and they’ve got a couple very winnable games coming up at home. The analytics say this is a much-improved Drexel squad from two years ago, which should put them right in the thick of the CAA race if they can stay cohesive.
Next Up: vs. Elon (Jan. 20), vs. William & Mary (Jan. 22), @ James Madison (Jan. 27)
Damian Dunn (above) and Temple have continued to play well without leading scorer Khalif Battle. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
2. Temple Owls
Record: 10-6, 3-2 American
When the Owls lost star guard Khalif Battle and his 21.4 ppg for the season because of a foot injury, expectations for this Temple squad had to be tempered. But since the loss of Battle, the Owls have gone 6-3, and Damian Dunn has stepped up as the number one option, averaging 18.3 ppg over that stretch. Dunn received some national recognition after he knocked down game-winning threes in back-to-back games. They had a big chance to prove themselves Wednesday night against Wichita State but that game was postponed, so they’ll have a nine-day layoff before playing at South Florida. The Owls have a difficult schedule to come in AAC play, with two games against Memphis plus Cincinnati, SMU and Houston all still to come.
Next Up: @ USF (Jan. 22), vs. Cincinnati (Jan. 25), @ SMU (Jan. 29)
1. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 13-4, 6-1 Big East
Playing their toughest non-conference slate under head coach Jay Wright, the Wildcats got off to a rocky start to the season, losing three games to top-5 teams before Big East play had even begun. And when conference play finally kicked off, the tide didn’t turn right away, as Villanova took a 20-point loss to Creighton on the road. But since then, the ‘Cats have rattled off six straight victories, including three against ranked competition, thanks to big-time performances from their leading scorers, Collin Gillespie (17.1 ppg) and Justin Moore (15.8), with redshirt sophomore Eric Dixon (9.0 ppg) playing the best ball of his college career lately as well. As the thick of Big East play approaches, Villanova has plenty of tough matchups ahead, such as Seton Hall (Feb. 12), and Providence twice.
Next Up: vs. Marquette (Jan. 19), @ Georgetown (Jan. 22), vs. DePaul (Jan. 25)