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Mike Sorensen: Let's talk college hoops today

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I know it's the day after the Super Bowl, but today we're talking college hoops. …

There's been renewed talk recently about Pac-10 expansion, but perhaps Utah and BYU are better off staying in the Mountain West Conference. Not only was the Mountain West a better conference in football this past season, but it's much better than the Pac-10 in basketball this year.

Talk about mediocrity. The Pac-10 has no ranked teams and no teams with fewer than seven losses. Every team is still in contention with all 10 teams bunched between first place Cal at 7-4 and last-place Stanford at 4-7, with five teams at 6-5. It looks like the league could be a one-bid league for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the tourney was expanded to 64. …

Speaking of bad leagues, any idea what is the worst conference in college basketball? It has to be the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Only one of the 10 teams, Prairie View A&M, has a winning record, and the combined overall record of the league against nonconference opponents is 22-89. Local fans had a chance to see the badness of the SWAC in November when Southern U. played a pair of games in the Beehive State and was beaten 88-48 by Utah and 107-51 by BYU. …

The worst team in America is Alcorn State of the SWAC. Not only are the Braves winless at 0-23, they have lost their games by an average of 24 points. Somehow four teams are ranked lower in the RPI rankings, however. …

Even the best college programs can have off years, as evidenced by the struggles of defending national champion North Carolina and UCLA. The Tar Heels are in 10th place in the ACC — 10th! — at 2-6, while UCLA, although in a five-way tie for second in the woeful Pac-10, is just 11-12 on the season. Both teams will likely need to win their conference tourneys to make the Big Dance. …

UNLV's thumping of BYU Saturday was a wake-up call to Cougar fans who are dreaming of a long NCAA Tournament run this year. The Cougars, who haven't won an NCAA game in 18 years, have a hard time matching up against certain teams, UNLV being one every year. And if their shooting is off, like it was Saturday, the Cougars will have a hard time against a lot of teams. …

Despite the loss, BYU will stay in the Top 25 and New Mexico should move up in the rankings after its overtime win over San Diego State. Also, UNLV could jump into the Top 25, giving the MWC three ranked teams for the first time ever. …

Can it get much worse for the Utah basketball team that has lost three straight? Yes, considering that the Utes have two road games and two of the MWC's best, New Mexico and UNLV, at home over the next two weeks.

The Utes can talk all they want about their young, inexperienced, injury-riddled team. But the fact is, the Colorado State team that beat them by 15 last week was younger, more inexperienced and had a couple of key players out with injuries. …

Wonder what Roger Reid thinks about his decision to get back into Division I coaching. Reid, who had six straight 20-win seasons at BYU, is just 28-56 in two-plus seasons at Southern Utah and his T-Birds are last in the Summit Conference this year at 2-10. …

Utah Valley is 11-12 overall and in third place in its league, which has the most deceptive name of any in the country. The Great West consists of teams in South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois, New Jersey and two in Texas. Utah Valley is the only Western team in the whole conference. …

Finally, kudos to Utah State and Weber State for bouncing back after slow starts this season. Credit Utah State coach Stew Morrill and Weber State coach Randy Rahe for finding ways to make their teams better as the season has progressed. Utah State was just 6-4 in mid-December but has gone 12-2 since and is currently on an eight-game winning streak and in first place in the WAC at 8-2. Since starting 1-4, the Wildcats have bounced back and gone 14-3 and appear to be on their way to another Big Sky title with a 9-2 record.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com