Facebook Twitter

Red-hot Utes far from ranking

SHARE Red-hot Utes far from ranking

There aren't many hotter college teams in the country right now than Utah, which has reeled off 11 straight victories since a loss to Arizona State back in early December.

At 14-3, the Utes have the 22nd best record in the country and they are listed at No. 20 in the (CollegeRPI.com) rankings. The Utes' 11-game winning streak is second in the nation behind Cincinnati's 18-game streak.

So how come the Utes are getting no respect in each of the major polls — Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN?

The Utes got a mere two votes in the AP poll, good for a tie for 44th place and didn't receive a single vote in the coaches poll, in which 55 teams received votes.

It's not like the Utes are strangers to the Top 25. After all, they've been ranked in the Top 25 every year since the 1994-95 season.

Ute coach Rick Majerus always says he couldn't care less about things like polls, and as one of the 31 voters, he's obviously not voting for his Utes.

Although Majerus may not care if his Utes are ranked, there are some good reasons to be ranked in the Top 25, the main one being the publicity it brings his program.

The Top 25 teams get a much longer story on the AP wire than the non-ranked and are in Top 25 roundups in newspapers all over the country. The Top 25 teams always get more attention on ESPN's SportsCenter and get a lot more space in USA Today.

As one who has been an AP voter for many years, I can understand the mentality of the voters. When it's Sunday night and time to call in your picks, it's easier to just pick a team that's already in the Top 25 or teams from your own region, than do a little research and find a team in another part of the country that's doing well.

For example, if I was voting this year, I might have discovered that Xavier has won eight straight games and is 13-3 and put them in my Top 25. But like Utah, Xavier is buried among the "others receiving votes" teams, while a team like Iowa stayed in the Top 25 despite losing three games and falling to 13-7.

The Utes should move up in the rankings this week because of their 30-point win over New Mexico but aren't likely to crack the Top 25 for at least a couple of weeks (as long as they keep winning).

BURGESS RETURN: Chris Burgess has been pointing towards next week's BYU game as his return to the Ute lineup after sitting out with plantar fascia injury to his right foot since Dec. 29.

He might be back, but, of course, no one will say one way or the other if he will be back next week.

When asked at practice Wednesday if he'd be back next week, Burgess smiled and said "What game is next week?" implying that he would meet his goal to return. He said his foot "feels a lot better" and that "hopefully" he'll be ready by Monday.

The decision rests with Ute trainer Trevor Jameson, who would not say one way or another whether Burgess would be ready.

"He feels a lot better, but he's not ready to go yet," said Jameson. "When that's going to be, I don't know. He's made a lot of progress, but there's nothing you can look at and say it's better."

Burgess walks around normally, but isn't practicing with the team yet. A big clue that he won't be back Monday, is the fact that "he's not running yet," according to Jameson.

UTE NOTES:Nick Jacobson ranks No. 4 in the nation in 3-point shooting at 52.5 percent after not attempting a 3-pointer at New Mexico Monday night. He ranks No. 3 in the Mountain West Conference, but that's because the MWC only requires one made 3-pointer per game, compared to the NCAA minimum of two made 3-pointers per game. Utah's Trace Caton ranks second in the MWC at 55.4, behind New Mexico's Tim Lightfoot . . . The Utes are No. 1 in the nation in 3-point shooting at 44.8 percent, nearly two percentage points ahead of No. 2 UCLA. In field goal percentage, the Utes rank No. 21 at 48.4 percent . . . It took until the 10th week of the season for the Utes to get a player named Mountain West Conference player of the week as Jacobson won the honor for his fine games against San Diego State and Air Force . . . Monday's BYU game is at 10 p.m., the first of four straight Big Monday appearances for the Utes on the ESPN late game.


E-mail: sor@desnews.com