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.
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):
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arizona State (8-2) stomped DePaul, which was coming off a comfortable win over Oregon State, on the road last Friday. The Sun Devils were led as usual by sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, who scored 23 points on 16 shots. He added nine rebounds and five assists.
Surprisingly, Arizona State is not getting any votes in either major poll. The Sun Devils will not have a great opportunity to impress again until mid-January.
BYU did not impress against UMass, giving up 105 points and not really being in the game for the most part. The Cougars are ranked No. 116 in the country in defensive efficiency, No. 130 in opponent shooting percentage, No. 215 in blocked shots, No. 131 in steals, No. 112 in fouls per game and No. 166 in opponent offensive rebounding.
The Cougars are No. 3 in scoring average due to their break-neck offensive pace, but only No. 79 in offensive efficiency. This is largely because BYU is near the very bottom of the country in 3-point scoring (No. 324 to be exact), getting only 17.7 percent of its points from 3-pointers, and is No. 215 in percentage of points from free throws at just 21.5 percent.
As a side note comparison, the 2011 BYU team known for its Jimmer Fredette-led offense, was No. 32 in the country in defensive efficiency.
Looking at the stats, BYU may be overrated at No. 7 in these power rankings. Games at Utah and Oregon will tell us more before the Cougars start conference play the end of December.
The Lobos gave Cincinnati its first loss of the season, beating the Bearcats by nine at home last Saturday.
New Mexico (7-1) would be ranked No. 27/29 in the two major polls if the rankings extended that far. The Lobos will have opportunities to impress against Kansas and Marquette before starting conference play on Jan. 4.
The Bruins (8-1) lost by nine at Missouri last Saturday in its first real test of the season. This team has not shown anything to deserve to be ranked No. 23 in the Coaches Poll and No. 26 in the AP. How does it make sense that UCLA is ranked while Arizona State is getting no votes in either poll? It doesn’t.
Saint Mary’s beat Eastern Washington by 28 on Sunday. The Gaels have yet to play a road game or even a neutral site game this season. They will finally play an interesting game when they take on Boise State this Saturday.
Boise State (MWC): The Broncos (8-1) got thumped by 15 at No. 11 Kentucky Tuesday night.
UNLV (MWC): Some people may not agree with having UNLV (3-4) show up in the top 15 of the power rankings, but having a chance to win in the last 30 seconds on the road against the No. 1 ranked team in the country is impressive. The Rebels were very close against Arizona State and Illinois earlier this season as well. Look for them to continue to gain momentum as the year goes on. It would not be a surprise to see them win the MWC and make the NCAA Tournament.
Pacific (WCC): The Tigers (7-1) beat Utah State in Logan by double-digits to lend some credibility to their early season record. Their only loss was at No. 15 Oregon.
Stanford (Pac-12): Stanford has not played since Dec. 1. We’ll see if the Cardinal improve with games coming up against No. 9 UConn and Michigan.
Utah State (MWC): The Aggies haven’t won a game since Nov. 26 and don’t have any overly intriguing games coming up until mid-January. Utah State is No. 18 in the country in offensive efficiency, but just No. 204 in defensive efficiency against a pretty unimpressive schedule thus far.
The Utes had checked in at No. 15 in last week’s power rankings but fell out after needing to rally to beat the Idaho State Bengals at home Tuesday night. The Bengals, a 3-3 Big Sky team, lost by 28 to Arizona State earlier this season and also lost to Cal State Bakersfield.
There was some temptation to pick Utah to beat BYU on Saturday after the Utes nearly upset Boise State on the road and defeated Fresno State comfortably. The Utes still could beat the Cougs but it doesn't seem as likely after seeing them struggle against Idaho State.
That doesn’t change the fact that Jordan Loveridge is a beast, however, and he may be the best overall player in the state right now.