All season long, the Utah men's basketball team has gotten plenty of respect in the polls (top 6 for six weeks running) and little from the RPI rankings, which put the Utes at No. 33 in the latest rankings.
So what do the so-called "experts" think of Utah basketball?Steve Weiberg, the college basketball writer for USA Today, said he has "tremendous admiration for what Majerus has managed to do after losing Keith Van Horn." But he also wonders how far the Utes can go this year.
"I think they are still suspect," he said. "There is reason to wonder if they're really as good as their rec-ord indicates."
CBS analyst Clark Kellogg says the Utes "aren't a top 5 team but probably deserve to be in the top 10."
Joe Lunardi, who puts together the weekly Blue Ribbon NCAA Tour-nament Predictions found on ESPN-Sportszone, lists the Utes as a No. 3 seed in the West, playing NC-Wilmington in Boise, up from a No. 4 seed the week before.
The CBS Sportsline Mock 64 by Andy Jasner and Dennis Dodd puts the Utes in Boise as a No. 2 seed playing Northern Arizona of the Big Sky.
The latest Sports Illustrated Weekly Seed Report has Utah listed as a No. 2 seed in the West behind Arizona.
So unless the Utes completely go in the tank, look for them to get a No. 2 or 3 seed when the NCAA pairings are announced March 8.
WOMEN LOOK TO HOST: Like the men, the women's NCAA tournament seedings are supposedly heavily influenced by the RPI rankings. If that's the case, the Utah women should have a good chance of hosting an NCAA subregional in two weeks.
The Utes are currently No. 18 in the nation in the RPI and would seem a good bet to be one of the 16 schools chosen to host a subregional. Ideally, the NCAA would like to have four of the 16 sub-re-gionals in the West. But often there aren't enough eligible Western teams to host the first and second rounds, so "West" regionals are held in the East, such as last year when the Utes traveled to Virginia.
Last year, the Utes were a No. 5 seed and apparently close to being chosen to host a subregional. However a conflict with the NCAA men's tournament at the Huntsman Center prohibited the Utes from hosting anyway.
Two victories in the upcoming WAC tournament should be enough to assure the Utes of the chance to host their first-ever NCAA women's game.
SWIMMIN' WOMEN: The Utah women's swim team, which has already quadrupled last season's win total with a 4-7 mark, travels to the Western Athletic Conference championships Thursday through Saturday in Federal Way, Wash.
The Ute women have broken five school records this year. The 200 medley relay team of Heike Kutz, Molly Lauber, Erin Blundell and Amy Jacobsen broke the record with a time of 1:46.72. In the 400 medley relay, Kutz, Lauber, Annika Lundmark and Alisa Graham broke the mark with a time of 3:54.56. Other Ute marks were broken by Lauber in the 100 and 200 breast and Kutz in the 100 back.
The Ute men will compete in the conference championships March 4-7 at San Antonio.
UTE NOTES: Utah's Michael Doleac is one of 30 candidates for the John Wooden Award, honoring the best player in college basketball . . . The women's soccer team signed six players, including four local players. The locals are Shauna Gurr (Woods Cross), Court-ney Hills (Mountain View), Amy Kofoed (Northridge) and Lesa Zol-lin-ger (Mountain Crest). The out-of-staters are Allison Cerruti (Blodgett, Ore.) and Amber Royster (Albuquerque) . . . The Ute men's golf team opened the spring season by finishing 14th in the 20-team Burns Invitational in Hawaii . . . The baseball team is off to a fine 7-7 start, despite losing 12 lettermen and all but two position starters. However, they return most of their pitching staff. Their home opener is March 20 against Air Force.