19-1 and still not ranked

The latest college basketball rankings are out and Utah State — you now, that team with a 14-game win streak, unbeaten in the Western Athletic Conference and owners of the second longest home win streak as well as the longest road win streak — is not ranked.

The ESPN/USA Today coaches poll has the Aggies checking in at No. 27 — just a few votes away from breaking in to the prestigious rankings.

The Associated Press is not quite as impressed with USU as the coaches are — maybe coaches recognize how difficult a 19-1 record is to achieve — and USU is No. 35.

In both polls, the Aggies have moved up.

But why aren’t they ranked?

While the easy answer for detractors is USU’s strength of schedule, the more accurate answer may be as simple as there are a lot of teams out there with really, really good records.

There are eight teams with only one loss. Another five have just two losses. Nine more have only three loses. And that is just a sampling of those receiving votes in the national polls.

Utah State is currently battling Kansas and Florida — you know, defending national champion Kansas and two-time champ Florida — for a spot at the bottom of the rankings. So finding votes is not only hard for a smaller program like USU, even the biggest programs in the country are struggling to crack the polls with three-loss teams.

Aggie coach Stew Morrill understands this and, perhaps most importantly, understands one loss this week to Nevada or at Fresno State will end any discussion of being ranked. So he choses to simply not think about polls, ballots or rankings.

He knows being ranked opens the door to plenty of recruits. But spending any excess thought on an opinion poll won’t prepare his team for the visitors from Reno.

Leave a comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.