Video: Imani Colon's highlights vs. Preble
See the King freshman guard in action for the Generals.
First fact: Previous No. 6 St. John's knocked off previous No. 1 Paul VI 68-52 Tuesday night.
First question: Why did St. John's jump over unbeaten and previous No. 4 Riverdale into the top spot?
Second fact: MaxPreps has a computer algorithm that determines strength of schedule, an algorithm that is purely mathematical, with no subjective input.
Second question: Why is Riverdale's strength of schedule so low?
Third fact: Of the top 47 teams in the country, according to the MaxPreps computer, Riverdale has played the weakest schedule. The toughest schedule in the country, according to the computer, is St. Mary's of Stockton at 26.6. St. John's checks in at 21.3 (prior to the upward tick for playing Paul VI). Riverdale is at 13.0.
The answer to the second question is, in part, the answer to the first. Riverdale was supposed to play in the Nike TOC (where St. John's lost its only game) but weather made it hard for teams from Tennessee to make it to Arizona. Still, one team from Tennessee - Brentwood Academy - found a way to arrive on time and play all four games. Mercer County from Kentucky came late. Riverdale opted not to come at all.
Riverdale also had an opportunity to play No. 11 Hamilton Heights this year, but despite having hosted Hamilton Heights last year, decided not to play them this season. If that game were on the schedule (Hamilton Heights has a strength of schedule of 21.2), Riverdale's case for No. 1 would be much stronger.
Which brings us back to the first question, and the answer is simple. St. John's has done more up to this point, and faces tougher opposition down the road (at Paul VI on Feb. 12, for example), and if the D.C. team should win out, will have earned the top spot.
Had Riverdale done what Brentwood Academy did, and gotten to Phoenix, even for two games, or had Riverdale found room on its schedule to travel to Hamilton Heights, it would be a different story. But neither of those things happened, and that's why unbeaten Riverdale and its undeniably talented team are No. 2 instead of No. 1.
(Note: We urge all teams, not just those in the Xcellent 25, to make sure their rosters and schedules are up-to-date on MaxPreps. This allows parents, fans, media and college coaches easy access to what they need to know. Problems? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Girls Basketball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (last week 6) St. John's (Washington, D.C.), 16-1
At home, St. John's jumped on previous No. 1 Paul VI early, shooting the lights out in the first half, and was never seriously threatened thereafter. The rematch is Feb. 12 at Paul VI -- get your tickets now.2. (4) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 18-0
The schedule won't get much stronger, though five-loss Hoover of Alabama shows up Jan. 28. No. 16 White Station and unbeaten Bradley Central are also likely opponents in the Tennessee postseason.3. (5) Monacan (Richmond, Va.), 15-0
The biggest regular season game left is Feb. 2 when Cosby, a longtime Virginia power with just two losses, comes to Monacan. Of course, Monacan already won 62-46, at Cosby.4. (1) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 17-1
Paul VI will conceivably get two more shots at St. John's, once at home, and maybe in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs. But the path back to No. 1 is narrow and will require some outside help.5. (2) Centennial (Las Vegas, Nev.), 20-2
Because Centennial lost to Paul VI, Paul VI remains ahead of Centennial. So when Paul VI falls to No. 4, Centennial drops as well.6. (7) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 14-2
Carondelet knocked St. Mary's of Stockton out of the Xcellent 25 two weeks ago, winning 71-69 on the road. This time, Carondelet hosts Mitty, a Top 10 Xcellent 25 team, on Wednesday. Could lightning strike again?7. (8) Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.), 19-2
Northern California's Heritage comes to Clovis on Saturday, but after disposing of Troy, a similar Southern California team, there shouldn't much worry.8. (9) Miami Country Day (Miami), 22-1
Miami Country Day hasn't played since Jan. 14, and put a tough IMG team (led by McDonald's All-American Rellah Boothe
) on the schedule Jan. 28 to get ready for postseason.
9. (10) Grandview (Aurora, Colo.), 13-1
Grandview, like many members of the Xcellent 25, can pretty much coast through league play, which is why Horizon -- which has lost only two games, both at the Nike TOC -- pops up on the schedule Feb. 7.10. (11) Norcross (Ga.), 20-2
Norcross has three games left before AAAAAA playoffs (why not just call it 6A?), and the only possible challenge would come at Parkview. Norcross won by 15 at home the first time around. 11. (14) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 19-1
Choctaw Central has lost one game all year, back in November, to Starkville, by one point. A win for Choctaw Central would be huge for Mississippi girls basketball, so Saturday's game will definitely be a challenge for Hamilton Heights.12. (12) Manasquan (N.J.), 16-0
Manasquan came from behind in the fourth quarter to tie the score against rival Red Bank Catholic at 42, and then sophomore Lola Mullaney
hit a buzzer-beater that bounced on the rim five times before it fell through.
13. (16) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), 19-0
McDonogh just knocked Long Island Lutheran out of the Xcellent 25, and gets a shot at doing the same to St. Frances on Feb. 1 -- but first St. Frances has to deal with Roland Park County, which removed Ossining from the rankings back in December.14. (17) North Central (Indianapolis), 22-0
North Central handled Warren Central by nine back in December, but Friday's game is at home, and North Central should move into the 4A playoffs with an unblemished record.15. (22) Male (Louisville, Ky.), 17-1
The Louisville Invitational Tournament has an impressive Kentucky lineup, and Male will get a chance to prove it belongs in the top 15. Henderson County, Friday's likely opponent, is 15-2, and Saturday, if the seeds hold, Male will get tough Mercer County in the morning and No. 17 Butler at 8 p.m.16. (16) White Station (Memphis, Tenn.), 18-2
White Station beat Hamilton by 13 on Jan. 3, but that was at home. Thursday's game is at Hamilton, and as realtors are fond of saying, location, location, location.17. (NR) Butler (Louisville, Ky.), 18-1
Butler capped its 18-game winning streak with a 43-31 win over previous No. 3 Montini, and will have a chance to rise higher during the Louisville Invitational. Though Sacred Heart Academy or Simon Kenton, the likely opponents Saturday morning, are very solid, look for a Male-Butler rematch Saturday night. And Male gave Butler its only loss back in November.18. (18) Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.), 11-0
Usually the intersectional games are the tough ones, but Waite of Ohio (Saturday's opponent) is having a down season, so the big game for Detroit Country Day will be relatively strong Southfield Arts & Tech. But the game is at Detroit Country Day so the odds of an upset are low.19. (19) Central Valley (Spokane Valley, Wash.), 16-0
The next two opponents for Central Valley combined to score 29 points in the first go-round. Yes, that's 29 points total -- so don't expect an upset in the Lilac City this week.20. (20) Olive Branch (Miss.), 23-1
DeSoto Central is the only game on the schedule this week, but Olive Branch must travel to Horn Lake before the regular season ends, and Byhalia could be a challenge, too.21. (3) Montini (Lombard, Ill.), 22-1
The last game of the regular season was the one that spoiled the stew, as Montini fell to Butler 43-31 in Kentucky, which means they must be behind Butler in the rankings. The 31 points was 17 fewer than the team had scored in any other game, but offensive recovery needs to be quick as the playoffs begin Saturday.22. (23) King (Milwaukee, Wis.), 17-0
Arrowhead led at halftime, at King, but the Generals held onto their spot in the Xcellent 25 with a second-half comeback and a 58-54 win. The rest of the regular season shouldn't provide as much of a challenge.23. (NR) Destrehan (La.), 24-0
Destrehan jumps into the national rankings on the strength of that unbeaten season and some quality wins over teams like Tyler of Texas, Faith Academy of Alabama, and in-state powers Ursuline Academy and John Curtis Christian.24. (24) Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.), 18-0
Hopkins is trotting through an easy stretch of the schedule -- and Minnesota's playoffs don't start until late February.25. (NR) Southeast Raleigh (N.C.), 17-0
Southeast Raleigh is young and talented, but its out-of-state ventures have been limited, which is one reason it took so long for the team to find a home in the Xcellent 25. But Southeast Raleigh has some solid in-state wins, though preseason favorite Millbrook will await in postseason.Dropped out:
No. 15 Seton Catholic, No. 21 North Little Rock, No. 25 Long Island Lutheran.