With the 2023-24 college basketball tipping off, the Belmont Vision has decided to rank the men’s and women’s basketball teams based on their performances so far.
But this isn’t an ordinary power ranking.
It’s one where every team will be compared to a Thanksgiving dish.
No. 1: Drake (3-1)
Stuffing is a staple at any Thanksgiving table.
The sides may change.
The desserts may change.
But the stuffing is a side you can rely on to always be at that table when you sit down.
Recently, Drake women’s basketball has stayed at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Last year, the Bulldogs ran rampant through the MVC Tournament, securing the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
And after barely losing to the University of Louisville in the first round, there’s no doubt that the returning core is waiting to return.
Grace Berg and Katie Dinnebier form a lethal pair for opposing teams to stop, leading to a close loss to the No. 2 ranked University of Iowa.
If the Bulldogs continue to perform, they’ll prove that they’re the top dogs in the conference.
No. 2: Belmont (2-2)
Comparison: Mashed Potatoes
If Kilyn McGuff’s layup falls, giving the Bruins the win over Mississippi State University, they’d be in firm contention for No. 1.
But with that miss, the Bruins firmly sit at No. 2 with impressive wins over the University of Georgia and Wichita State University.
The Bruins are just waiting to overtake that No. 1 seed, like how mashed potatoes can take over turkey as the best dish on Thanksgiving.
With an offense that can attack from all angles, the Bruins put on a show at the Curb Event Center.
If the Bruins are knocking down 3-pointers, Kendal Cheesman and company can torch teams.
But Tessa Miller also proves that she’s a killer in the paint, bodying opponents down low.
Furthermore, freshman guard Jailyn Banks dazzles fans with her killer crossovers.
Belmont’s non-conference schedule doesn’t get any easier with games against Stanford University, Middle Tennessee State University and THE Ohio State University.
Wins or competitive games could ensure the Bruins hold steady at the top of the MVC.
No. 3: Northern Iowa (1-2)
Everyone gets excited about the turkey when Thanksgiving rolls around.
Simply put, the hype makes it a can’t-miss item on the menu.
The hype around Northern Iowa entering the season was huge, with the Panthers being the overwhelming favorites to win the conference.
Furthermore, forward Grace Boffeli was tabbed as the MVC Preseason Player of the Year.
While Boffeli has lived up to the hype, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds, the Panthers have not.
Only one other player is averaging double figures with 10 points exactly.
But I wouldn’t count the Panthers out yet as their two losses come against No. 2 ranked Iowa and a very formidable Ball State team that beat Belmont in the 2023 WNIT.
With games against Power Five schools Syracuse and Vanderbilt, Northern Iowa can prove that it deserved that No. 1 ranking.
But the other players around Boffeli are going to have to help support her for that to happen.
No. 4: Illinois State (3-1)
Comparison: Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese can come in a variety of flavors with cheddar, gouda or brie.
But whatever the case may be, it’ll always taste good.
Under Kristen Gillespie, the Redbirds have continued to win with a wide variety of players.
Last season, the Redbirds won the regular season MVC championship behind the stellar play from Paige Robinson, who would go on to win MVC Player of the Year.
Even with Robinson no longer on the team, the Redbirds still continue to win.
This season, DeAnna Wilson has stepped up to be leading scorer while Maya Wong has shown major improvement from last year.
The only reason Illinois State isn’t higher is that it’s failed to beat any notable teams.
But the Redbirds are too good to have them any lower.
No. 5: Murray State (1-2)
The gravy category is for teams that put up a high number of points.
While gravy elevates a dish by adding flavor, the gravy team elevates the watching experience by putting up a high number of points on offense.
Scoring 75 plus points for all three games, Murray State finds itself in this category.
Racers star Katelyn Young has continued to be a menace on offense, almost averaging a double-double so far.
The schedule also gets easier for the Racers soon as their two losses come against Power Five schools the University of Arkansas and No. 18 University of Indiana.
If they can start winning games and improving their record, the Racers could be in line for a top-four ranking.
But a loss could also send them spiraling down the list.
Fate is in their hands.
No. 6: UIC (4-1)
Comparison: Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie always seems super appealing with a golden crust and its endless variety of flavors.
But you can’t center a whole Thanksgiving meal based around pie.
That’s how UIC’s 4-1 record is.
It may look amazing, but it isn’t strong enough to warrant a top-four ranking.
The combined record of the teams the Flames have beaten is 6-11.
A close game with Northwestern University is impressive since it’s a Power Five school, but the Flames need to prove more.
The talent is definitely there with five players averaging over 10 points a game, which means that fans never know who they can expect to breakout.
There are some chances for the Flames to surpass other teams in this ranking, such as possible wins against Saint Louis University and the University of Green Bay.
But for now, a No. 6 ranking seems fair given the resume.
No. 7: Missouri State (1-1)
With casserole, you never really know what you are going to get.
You could get a nice green bean casserole where all the flavors mesh well together.
But you sometimes get a soupy mess that no one wants to touch.
With only two games under its belt, where should you rank Missouri State?
No one particularly stands out on this team as the offense doesn’t put up impressive numbers.
But a close loss against Saint Louis, a formidable opponent for any team, puts the Lady Bears ahead of other teams in the conference.
Fans should get a better feeling as to where the Lady Bears actually stand after a couple of tougher games against Oklahoma State University and Tulane University.
But for now, they’re at a very inoffensive No. 7.
No. 8: Southern Illinois (1-3) and No. 9 Indiana State (1-3)
These two teams are lumped together because they’re both so inoffensive and bland like cornbread.
Both these teams have one win against a lowly school.
Both teams also have three losses, mostly against small schools except for Indiana State getting blown out by the University of Missouri.
The only reason Southern Illinois is better because it's lost its three games by a combined score of 15 while the Sycamores barely escaped with their only win of the season in overtime.
At least the Salukis have a player scoring almost 20 points a game?
No. 10: Valparaiso (0-2)
Comparison: Forgotten Vegetables
Everyone ignores the yams at the dinner table.
Everyone seems to ignore Valparaiso in the MVC.
The Beacons have lost their only two games of the season against Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.
Maybe the Beacons will secure a win when they travel to the University of Southern Mississippi.
If they don’t, at least they can say they’ve played three of the four directions.
No. 11: Bradley (1-2)
Comparison: BURNT DINNER ROLLS
This program is literally on fire.
The players are like the dog saying “this is fine” as the house around it burns.
Head coach Kate Popovec-Goss was suspended “in accordance with the university's commitment to upholding the values and standards expected of its staff,” according to the a press release from the university.
How bad is Central Michigan?
No. 12: Evansville (0-4)
Comparison: Cranberry Sauce
How is Evansville ranked lower than a team that had to suspend its coach?
The Purple Aces haven’t won a game, struggling to do really anything on the court.
Most games they haven’t even looked competitive.
For now, they should be discarded and ignored like you should ignore the cranberry sauce.
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer