DESPITE SATURDAY'S LOSS at New Mexico, the University of Utah basketball team remains nationally ranked in this week's polls. It wasn't easy for the Utes to get into the polls - they didn't crack anyone's top 25 until they'd won 12 straight games and had a record of 15-1 - and it doesn't look as if it will be easy for them to exit the polls.
Says Mark Godich, the college basketball analyst for The National, "The thing this year is that no one's making a move. With the exception of UNLV and Arkansas, and maybe Ohio State, there's not much difference in a whole bunch of teams. Utah lost last week, but so did just about every team in the poll. All the teams right around them lost. There is so little difference between teams this year, if they could just convince Vegas to sit out the (NCAA) tournament, it would be a real free for all."Godich, who ranks the nation's top 64 teams each week for The National, has the Utes ranked 17th this week - the same as last week. "Obviously, Utah is a very good team," he says of the 20-2 Utes. "But frankly, I'm having a little trouble figuring out how strong the WAC is. Are there strong teams out there, or is there a lot of mediocrity? New Mexico has been up-and-down, Wyoming loses two on the road, UTEP hasn't done much since Georgetown . . . it's hard to get a handle on the WAC."
Nonetheless, if Godich were picking the 64-team NCAA tournament today, four WAC teams would make it. Besides the Utes at No. 17, Wyoming, New Mexico and UTEP are all in his top 64, at 32nd, 44th and 58th, respectively.
JAZZ SATISFIED: At the NBA All-Star Weekend Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte, there figures to be the usual flurry of trade talk.
"Everybody's there, in the same city, the same hotels," says Scott Layden, the Jazz's director of player personnel, "so there's bound to be a lot of talk. There always is."
Not that the Jazz will be doing much of it.
"I would say that there's a good chance we won't do anything," says Layden. "We feel like we have a very good team. We like where we are."
Added Layden: "How many times do you get a player in a trade who doesn't have a problem?"
NEVER (AGAIN) ON SUNDAY: The showdown Sunday between No. 1 ranked UNLV and No. 2 ranked Arkansas will be played at 11 a.m. in Fayetteville. That's in the middle of the Sabbath Day in the middle of the Bible Belt - and no one is taking credit for the unusual tipoff.
Frank Broyles, the Arkansas athletic director, is saying the contract was already signed before he learned of television's stipulation that the game be played to fit into network scheduling plans.
"I can tell you this, it's not going to happen again," Broyles was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "We've gotten calls and letters complaining that it's a shame television is making us choose between basketball and the Lord."
Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaeffer said the game will be a sellout.
STILL WATCHING: After tabulating Super Bowl ratings from the country's 25 biggest markets, the A.C. Nielsen Co. reported that the city with the
highest rating was not New York City, home of the world champion New York Giants.
It was Denver, Colo., home of the Denver Broncos.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Jim Valvano, recently deposed North Carolina State basketball coach, on Red Klotz, who coaches the Washington Generals, the longtime opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters: "He's working on about a 17,000-game losing streak. That's the kind of job security I'd like to have."