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Monday, Dec. 27, 2010 | 10 p.m.
No meteoric shifts this week, but finally some shifts …
1) No. 7 San Diego State (14-0)
The Aztecs might have caught some flack for coming to Las Vegas the week of Christmas and beating San Francisco and IUPUI (combined record: 11-16) by a total margin of eight points. But I won't give them any. Due to difficulties getting anyone to come play his team, Steve Fisher had to bring the team to the empty South Point arena for two games that next to no one attended against mediocre competition. It's hard to blame the Aztecs for not being brutally fired up for these games. How hard did Fisher have to scratch and claw for non-con games for his team this year? This was the second time the Aztecs played IUPUI on a neutral floor! So, yeah, the Jaguars had a good book on SDSU coming in. Either way, 14-0 at this point is damn impressive, and SDSU's eight games away from home are the most by any team in the Top 25 polls. Hard to rip them at all.
2) No. 16 BYU (12-1)
The Cougars stay inches ahead of UNLV not just for how they bounced back from the loss at UCLA, but by doing it in winning two tough games. At Weber State (or anywhere in the state of Utah) is no easy assignment for BYU, and UTEP brought an athletic, talented group to Provo. Look, BYU is not as good as it was a year ago. I'm not going to even pretend like it is. Maybe the best measuring stick for Dave Rose's 2010-11 club will be next Wednesday when the Cougars visit the Thomas & Mack Center, where they haven't beaten the Rebels since 2005.
3) UNLV (11-2)
Right now, the Rebels might not get a ton of credit nationally for beating Kansas State without Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly. Yes, it would have been much more impressive had the Wildcats' top two players suited up and not been ruled ineligible. But UNLV beat what was still a very talented team at what was nothing remotely close to being a neutral site. And the Rebels didn't even play that well, to boot. At the very least, they deserve to hold on to the No. 3 spot.
4) Colorado State (8-3)
Aside from being the Mountain West's best coach when it comes to Twitter presence, Tim Miles has the Rams seriously thinking about playing notable postseason basketball (meaning the NCAAs or NIT … the others don't count). Colorado State won three games in three days in Cancun over three average-to-strong foes (Appalachian State, Mississippi and Southern Miss). Getting college kids to focus long enough in Cancun leading up to Christmas to win three games in three days gets you a very strong fist bump … and the spot ahead of New Mexico.
5) New Mexico (10-2)
While Colorado State surged leading into Christmas, New Mexico sputtered. The Lobos came to play in one of what feels like 5,438 holiday tournaments held in Las Vegas, and after beating a strong Colorado squad on Wednesday, 89-76, turned around and lost in the title game to Northern Iowa, 66-60. It was New Mexico's fourth game in seven days, and included a bad showing from preseason Mountain West Newcomer of the Year Drew Gordon. The UCLA transfer was 3-of-10 from the floor with six points and only two rebounds before fouling out in 23 minutes. Dairese Gary also had a tough night with six turnovers. The Lobos need to finish the non-conference season strong to keep a solid potential NCAA at-large resumé in tact. They are at Texas Tech on Wednesday night and at Dayton on Saturday.
6) TCU (8-4)
A 96-79 shellacking of Northwestern State in their first game in 10 days didn't get the Horned Frogs the bump past Utah. Instead, it's the fact that the Utes can't stop tripping over their own feet.
7) Utah (7-6)
Utah should be dropped to lower than seventh, but I really can't bring myself to put the Utes below Wyoming or Air Force. The trip to Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic was a disaster for Jim Boylen's team. A loss to Butler in the first round? Understandable. A loss by 13 the next night to Hawaii? Again, understandable, since it is a home game for the Warriors. But a 67-64 loss on Christmas day to San Diego? Inexcusable. USD entered the game at 2-10. The Utes wrap up the non-con season on New Year's Eve at Portland and could very likely be opening up Mountain West play next week at 7-7. Oof.
8) Air Force (8-3)
Don't flatter yourselves, Falcons fans, because Wyoming is just that bad right now. But in a positive note, Air Force continues to be money in bowl games, defeating Georgia Tech in the Independence Bowl on Monday evening. I know I'm reaching here, but I probably will be for much of the season when it comes to positive things to say about Air Force.
9) Wyoming (6-7)
A home loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay left Heath Schroyer's team with a lump of coal before Santa even came to Laramie. The Pokes are the only MWC team with a losing record.