Sunday, April 20, 2014

Power rankings: Pac-12, WCC, MWC men's basketball, Version 3 (12 items)

Dec. 12, 2013

Colorado is the big winner in Version 3 of the power rankings, moving from No. 8 to No. 3 with its win over then No. 6 Kansas (as predicted here last week). Every person who loves to play basketball should get the chance to feel what it must have felt like to be Askia Booker when he hit that 35-footer at the buzzer to beat the Jayhawks.

Incredible shot.

Others that impressed included Pacific of the West Coast Conference in beating Utah State comfortably in Logan, and UNLV of the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels nearly beat Arizona, the top-ranked team in the country, on the road.

Those that dropped in the rankings include BYU, UCLA, San Diego State, Utah State and Utah.

The best upcoming games to watch:

1. Saturday: BYU at Utah (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)

2. Saturday: No. 1 Arizona at Michigan (10 a.m., CBS)

3. Saturday: New Mexico vs. No. 13 Kansas (5 p.m., ESPN2)

4. Saturday: Saint Mary’s at Boise State (4 p.m., Root Sports)

5. Saturday: Illinois at No. 15 Oregon (7 p.m., ESPN2)

6. Dec 18: Stanford at No. 9 UConn (7 p.m., ESPN2)

Here is the third edition of the Pac-12/MWC/WCC power rankings (games through Dec. 10):

Nate Gagon is a published sports, music, and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free throw line and can be reached at: nategagon@hotmail.com or @nategagon.

1 of 12. 1. Arizona Wildcats (Pac-12)

No change

Arizona is ranked No. 1 in both major polls despite a close call against UNLV at home last Saturday. The Rebels actually led the Wildcats, 57-56, with 3:31 left and trailed by just two until the last 30 seconds. Projected lottery pick, freshman Aaron Gordon, struggled in his 31 minutes, making just 2-of-10 shots for four points.

Although the Wildcats are 9-0, they have certainly looked vulnerable at times. They could quite easily have three or four losses. It’s a credit to them, however, for playing a challenging non-conference schedule and finding a way to win each game.

The Michigan game on Saturday will be the last real test for Arizona before conference play starts on Jan. 2.

2 of 12. 2. Oregon Ducks (Pac-12)

No change

Oregon narrowly retains its spot at No. 2 this week after beating Ole Miss in overtime Sunday, despite giving up 39 points to former Ute Marshall Henderson, who shot an astounding 23 3-pointers in the game. Johnathan Loyd, the brother of former Cougar Mike Loyd, saved Oregon in the game by scoring 23 points on just seven field-goal attempts while dishing 15 assists.

Oregon (8-0) is ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and No. 11 in the Coaches Poll.

The Ducks have tests against Illinois and BYU before beginning conference play on Jan. 2 when they visit the Utes at the Huntsman Center.

3 of 12. 3. Colorado Buffaloes (Pac-12)

Up 5

Colorado pulled off the upset over Kansas in dramatic fashion with four players scoring 14 or 15 points each. The Buffs never trailed in the second half. Kansas may not be quite as good as expected early in the season, but it is still a monster victory for Colorado.

With the victory, the Buffaloes (9-1) moved into the AP Top 25 at No. 21. They would be ranked No. 27 in the Coaches Poll, if it extended that far.

Colorado finishes its non-conference slate with games against No. 7 Oklahoma State and Georgia later this month.

4 of 12. 4. Gonzaga Bulldogs (WCC)

No change

Gonzaga (8-1) is ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the Coaches Poll.

After cruising to a victory over New Mexico State last Saturday, the Bulldogs had to rally on the road to beat West Virginia Tuesday night. Trailing by five with six minutes left, Kevin Pangos went into beast mode, scoring 11 points in about three minutes and hitting three straight from long distance.

5 of 12. 5. San Diego State Aztecs (MWC)

Down 1

The Aztecs were passed in the power rankings by Colorado not only because the Buffs beat Kansas, but also because the Aztecs very nearly lost to crosstown rival San Diego last Thursday. San Diego’s shot to win at the buzzer just missed, allowing the Aztecs to escape with a 65-64 win. While San Diego is not a bad team, the Toreros did lose to Illinois-Chicago earlier this season, a 3-6 Horizon League team.

The Aztecs (7-1), ranked No. 25/24 in the two major polls, also struggled somewhat to beat a bad Washington team at home Sunday. They won’t have another chance to really impress until they take on Kansas in January.
1. Down under
Salt Lake City, UT,
Dec. 12, 2013

No surprises here. BYU needs to pick their defense to be a contender.

2. Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY,
Dec. 12, 2013

I'd like to see BYU live up to the hype and potential. Just make free throws. The rest is coming along nicely.

3. pocyUte
Pocatello, ID,
Dec. 12, 2013

I love that Utah is being written off. The Utes know they have to win this game to gain traction on the season, and BYU obviously wants to keep their dominance rolling. On paper Utah finally has the horses to play, now can the execute and play with the defense they need to in order to keep BYU in check. Saturday should be fun.

Go UTES!!

4. goforit
Provo, UT,
Dec. 12, 2013

BYU will not do much against quality teams. They have no defense and because of that will also lose a few games against lesser teams. It wouldn't surprise me if the Utes win Saturday, they will play very physical basketball and the Y can't handle that. Another NIT invite for Cougars this year.

5. Eldo
Bountiful, UT,
Dec. 12, 2013

Utah drops after a win, and UNLV rises with a loss? By your logic, Arizona should have dropped for struggling to beat a .500 UNLV team.
Teams shouldn't be ranked for losing games no matter how good the opponent... even if the game is close. Just ask the Utah football team. It doesn't work that way.
UNLV also lost to UCSB by 20 (at home), and haven't beaten any teams that should put them in the top 15.
They may end up being a good team, but their record doesn't show that right now. Your rankings lose credibility having a 3-4 team in the top 15.