Rankings and Ratings

… Note … **Just for fun** … Join the “CU at the Game” tournament challenge. It’s free, and there will be some CU at the Game hats for the best brackets (you know you are going to do these brackets anyway, why not challenge your Buff friends?). Post your bracket(s) at the ESPN Tournament Challenge, which can be found here, and click on the “CU at the Game” Group …

March 19th

ESPN: “The Moment Won’t be Too Big For the Buffs”

From Joe Lunardi at ESPN …Strange times call for flexibility, and your Bracket Bunker staff is answering the call. An adjusted NCAA tournament schedule has thrown the editors a curveball and made the annual Selection Sunday team-by-team previews unworkable.

So we’ve taken the extra days and combined the most important factoids for bracketing into a single document. If you need to make those tournament picks in, say, one lunch hour, here’s your shot.

In the following capsules, we’ve plucked the single most predictable and unpredictable elements of all 68 teams. We’ve added three numeric rankings — eye test rank (best team), résumé rating (most deserving) and field rank (overall chances to advance), plus each team’s position on the committee’s seed list — to help you spot the distinctions that matter most.

No. 5, East, Colorado Buffaloes


If not for COVID-19, Tad Boyle and Colorado would be staring at a second straight tournament appearance. The Pac-12 runner-up won 20-plus games for the third season in a row and has back-to-back years in the Top 25. The Buffaloes are senior-laden and eager to get out of the first round for just the second time in Boyle’s tenure.


For as mentally tough as Boyle’s guys have been, they’ve had several nights where they’ve simply played down to their competition. The Buffs are a top-50 3-point-shooting team but managed a combined 10-for-52 from the perimeter in head-scratching losses to Washington, Cal and most recently Oregon State.

— Matt Martucci

By the numbers

Eye test rank: 16
Résumé rating: 23
NCAA seed list: 20

Joey Brackets says …

All-Pac-12 selection McKinley Wright pulled his name from the draft for one last ride and is eager to put last week’s title game loss behind him. Wright and the nation’s 30th-most experienced roster don’t rattle easily. The moment won’t be too big for the Buffs, who defend enough to get past Georgetown before bowing out in the second round.

Final field rank: 19

No. 12, East, Georgetown Hoyas


Little has been predictable about this Georgetown team. The Hoyas were just 5-10 in early February before winning eight of their last 10, including four conference tournament games last week. What changed? More downhill dribble-drives from senior Jahvon Blair and freshman Dante Harris led to better shots, which the Hoyas converted to the tune of the best 3-point percentage in Big East play.


This Hoyas team can be reckless offensively and throw the ball all over the gym. Georgetown had just one game all season with single-digit turnovers. The Hoyas ranked 309th in the nation in turnover rate on a per-possession basis. In tournament play, that many wasted possessions will send a team home.

— Shane McNichol

By the numbers

Eye test rank: 46
Résumé rating: 48
NCAA seed list: 47

Joey Brackets says …

For college basketball fans starving for March moments after missing out on so many last season, Patrick Ewing leading his alma mater to a conference tournament title in the building where he starred in the NBA was a welcome sight. Unfortunately, the Hoyas’ magic likely ends there. Georgetown was picked last in the Big East, after all.

Final field rank: 49

Read reports on all 68 tournament teams here


March 17th

No CSU at the Big Dance: No replacement teams required

From CBS Sports … The NCAA announced Tuesday that five positive COVID-19 cases have been identified out of 2,300 tests conducted so far this week ahead of the NCAA Tournament. Those tested so far include members of team’s traveling parties — not just players and coaches — as well as officials from the NCAA. The positice case count of five is up from zero positives that had been identified as of Monday.

Because of the breadth of who has been tested, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt reiterated that it shouldn’t be assumed the positive tests came from players or coaches.

“An assumption shouldn’t be made about any individuals, or even any groups, because the overall testing numbers include both official travel parties of the teams as well as working staff and committee members,” Gavitt said.

Additionally, Gavitt said tournament officials are not expecting to need one of the four replacement teams on standby in the event of a team needing to drop out due to COVID-19.

“We are not anticipating that right now,” Gavitt said Thursday afternoon. “But again, we are living in a pandemic. So we do take things day to day, and even hour to hour. But fortunately, we are not aware of any situations that would result in a replacement team coming in.”

Later, Tuesday’s 6 p.m. Eastern deadline for a replacement team to be chosen passed without Louisville, the top replacement team, being contacted, a source told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. With no teams forced to withdraw from the tournament, it essentially “locks.”

CFN: “Georgetown the sentimental choice, but Colorado is a whole lot steadier”

From College Football News

Why Georgetown Will Win

Was that a fluke or was it a case of a team rising up and rocking at the right time?

The Hoyas were miserable during the middle of the season – going on an ugly 2-7 run – but everything started to kick in late in February. A 6-1 finish with a Big East championship was enough to launch Patrick Ewing’s team into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.

It’s a Ewing-coached Georgetown team, so of course it’s amazing on the boards. It’s a big team that dominates the glass on both ends. The shooting inside is good enough, and when the gunners are on from the outside, it’s a deadly mix.

Colorado doesn’t have the inside presence to hang if the Hoyas start banging with its size up front, but …

Why Colorado Will Win

This is a painfully inconsistent three-point shooting Georgetown team.

Colorado didn’t have too many problems slowing down the three – it led the Pac-12 in made threes – with even the bombers in the conference struggling from the outside. The Buffs split their games with Oregon and went 2-1 against Cal – three pointers weren’t the issue.

Georgetown doesn’t have to hit threes to win, but it’s 5-9 when making fewer than 40% of its threes, and Colorado only allowed teams to connect on 40% or more seven times in 30 games.

The Buffs are fantastic on the foul line, they don’t turn the ball over, and they’re a whole lot steadier and consistent.

What’s Going To Happen

Georgetown will be the fun and sentimental choice to root for because of Ewing and the history of the program, but Colorado is a whole lot steadier.

The Buffs will get enough from the defense to make up for a few problems here and there on the boards. They’ll give up enough second chance points to matter, but they’ll make up for it with a several points in transition off of Hoya mistakes.

Colorado vs Georgetown Prediction, Line

Colorado 70, Georgetown 66
Line: Colorado -5.5, o/u: 136.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2

Must See Rating: 3.5

5: Getting the NCAA Tournament back
1: One Shining Moment

(5) Colorado vs (12) Georgetown

East Region: First Round
10:15 am, MT, CBS
Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Jeff Feyerer, CFN: Colorado
Pete Fiutak, CFN: Colorado
Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire: Colorado
Jeremy Mauss, MW Wire: Colorado
Big Game Ben Niewoehner, CFN: Georgetown
Kegan Reneau, Sooners Wire Colorado
Nick Shepkowski, Fighting Irish Wire: Georgetown
Scott Steehn, WinnersandWhiners: Colorado*
Keith Stewart, WinnersandWhiners: Georgetown
Brian Stultz, Auburn Wire: Georgetown
Clucko the Chicken, CFN: Georgetown


March 16th

CU poised to set NCAA free throw shooting record (not so fast, my friend!)

Heading into the Pac-12 championship game, CU was on pace to set not only a CU season record for free throw percentage, not only the Pac-12 record, but the all-time NCAA record …

Colorado’s 83.1 percent figure from the free throw line was ahead of the NCAA Division I, Pac-12 and Colorado single-season record pace:

Single Season Free Throw Records:
NCAA I: Harvard, .822 (535-651), 1983-84
Pac-12: Arizona, .786 (511-650), 2003-04
Colorado: .778 (679-873), 2010-11

But now …

After going 12-20 (60%) against Oregon State, CU’s free throw percentage for the year has fallen to 82.16% (419-510), just slightly behind Harvard’s all-time record of 82.18% (535-651).

But … get this … CU is now not only behind Harvard 1983-84, the Buffs are behind … Oral Roberts, 2020-21. The Golden Eagles, a No. 15 seed playing Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, is currently making free throws at a better rate than is Colorado, 364-442 (82.35%).

So, if form holds this weekend, CU will shatter the school record for free throw percentage, crush the all-time Pac-12 record … but finish second for the year behind Oral Roberts.

(I checked the schedule for you. Oral Roberts plays Ohio State at 1:00 p.m., MT, Friday, CBS – and you thought you wouldn’t have a reason to watch).

CU wins 73% of simulated games against Georgetown

From TeamRankings, posted at ESPN

68%DECISION TREEIdentifies data trends with predictive significance.32%
64%POWER RATINGS Analyzes scoring margins and schedule strength.36%
56%SIMILAR GAMES Based on results of similar past matchups.44%
73%SIMULATION Play-by-play computer simulation of game.27%
73%SEED DIFFERENCE Historical win odds for seed difference of 7.27%
win by4.5POINT SPREAD Recent betting lines favor Colorado by 4.5.lose by4.5

March 15th 

CU up to No. 22 in final regular season AP poll; finally enter the USA Today/Coaches’ poll at No. 22

From ESPN … Gonzaga has completed a start-to-finish run atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.

Coach Mark Few’s Bulldogs (26-0) received all 60 first-place votes to stay atop Monday’s final poll, becoming the first team since Kentucky in 2014-15 to be No. 1 in every poll and the 14th overall. Gonzaga, named the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, will try to become the first unbeaten national champion since Indiana in 1976.

Illinois jumped to No. 2 after winning the Big Ten Tournament, swapping spots with Baylor — which fell one spot after spending 15 of 17 polls sitting at No. 2.

Michigan was next at No. 4, with all three of those teams joining Gonzaga in earning No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.

Alabama was No. 5, with the Crimson Tide reaching their highest ranking since December 2006 after winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1991. Houston, Ohio State, Iowa, Texas and Arkansas rounded out the top 10.

BYU was the only addition to the poll, tying for No. 23 with Southern California.

The Big 12 had a national-best six teams in the poll, including No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Kansas, No. 13 West Virginia and No. 21 Texas Tech. The Big Ten was next with five teams, with No. 20 Purdue joining four top-10 teams.

USA Today/Coaches’ poll … 

Others receiving votes: BYU 55, Oklahoma 42, St. Bonaventure 42, UConn 33, Georgia Tech 18, Wichita State 14, LSU 13, Drake 10, Tennessee 9, Winthrop 8, Missouri 8, North Texas 3, Clemson 3, Georgetown 2, UC Santa Barbara 1, UCLA 1

Dropped from rankings: Oklahoma 24

Jay Bilas picks the Buffs over Hoyas: “Colorado is methodical, and methodical can win in tournament play”

From ESPN … Every year — except last year, when the coronavirus pandemic sent everybody home to wear sweatpants for a year — I am on the air during the NCAA tournament selection show when the bracket is finally revealed. Upon my first view of the bracket, our bosses demand that I provide my winners to each game. And I do it within five minutes of first seeing the bracket, so our fabulous graphics professionals can build my picks to reveal on screen, to serve the fan.

As my bosses demand my immediate selections for the 68-team bracket, smoking cigarettes and sipping Cognac in the back of the control room while savagely barking out orders as if in a 1970s newsroom, I feverishly scribble my picks while pleading for more time like a Charles Dickens character.

“Please, sir, can I have some more time to think?”

The answer is a bellowing, “No, you overpaid but incredibly handsome and erudite analyst. Give us your picks and shut your magnificent pie hole. You can think later, while you are being pilloried on social media for making such unthinking choices under stress.”

Well, what you have before you now is the result of leaving the smoke-filled studio environment. Away from my demanding bosses, I can now think and use my big brain and extensive basketball knowledge to provide you with the definitive bracket prognostication known to planet Earth. In this guide to riches and satisfaction through beating your friends in the office pool, I will provide you with locks, near locks, upset alerts and sure-thing upsets in this year’s bracket. Use this and you will be popping bottles of bubbly after the games in the NCAA bubble.

The discussion of who is in and who is out is over. The complaining about seeding and selection, an annual fun fest, will go on for a few days but then wither away. Now, all we are left with is the bracket for this season so impacted by COVID-19. If you take the advice of this magnificent tome, you will win your office pool and then sit by the pool with a drink in your hand.

… From the Pac-12 … 

No. 6 USC Trojans vs. No. 11 Wichita State Shockers/Drake Bulldogs
One of the scariest and most underrated teams in the field is USC. The Trojans have a superstar in Evan Mobley. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He is the first player in Pac-12 history to sweep that trio of awards and only the second major conference player ever to do so, along with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012. He also made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team, but that seems like overkill. Mobley is a future NBA lottery pick. He is not a stretch big, but he is versatile, skilled, a good passer, ridiculously talented and athletic. He is a fabulous shotblocker who can also shoot the ball with touch. Utah doubled him on the catch early in the season. That was one of the only games in which he struggled a bit. Otherwise, Mobley has been stellar. Then, in the Pac-12 tournament, Mobley torched Utah for 26 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. Isaiah Mobley forms a potent 1-2 punch with Evan. Drew Peterson is a versatile handler and passer who can see over defenses, grab and go. Plus, he defends well. Tahj Eaddy, the Santa Clara transfer who had 24 points against Oregon, and Ethan Anderson are good shooters with point guard skills. Anderson is the best on-ball defender. USC can defend at the rim (No. 12 in the nation in field goal percentage defense), offensive rebound and come at you in waves. USC is young in spots, but allows opponents to shoot only 42% inside the arc. Drake is without Roman Penn for the tournament. Wichita State should beat the Bulldogs to take on USC, but I don’t think the Shockers will shock the Trojans.
Winner: USC

Kansas vs. USC
Without the COVID-19 struggles, I would expect Kansas to beat USC because of experience. However, I favor USC in this one because of the Trojans’ rim protection and the star power of Evan Mobley.
Winner: USC

Iowa vs. USC
This will be a great matchup between Luka Garza and Evan Mobley. Iowa’s experience and changing defenses make the difference in this one. Iowa will move on to play Gonzaga for the Final Four.
Winner: Iowa

No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. VCU Rams
I love this game. Sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland is the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring at 19.4 points per game. Hyland scores in a variety of ways, but his 3-point shooting sets him apart. He connects on a trio of 3s per game, has scored 30 points or more three times and 20 or more 11 times. Lefty Vince Williams, a 6-6 wing, is another All-A-10 player. He hit more than 40 treys on the season and is an excellent free throw shooter. VCU is good offensively, but elite on the defensive end. The Rams force a turnover on 24% of opponents’ possessions, which is among the best in the nation. The problem is, the Rams turn the ball over on 21% of their possessions, which is among the bottom third of Division I. Oregon, the Pac-12 regular-season champion, has won 11 of 12. A couple of pauses and some injuries slowed the Ducks’ progress, but they have caught up. The Ducks can shoot it, led by Chris Duarte, a versatile, strong guard who can rebound and drive. Duarte is also a terrific defender. Will Richardson returned from injury. The lefty is a terrific shooter who can also get shots for others. Richardson is getting more and more aggressive, and that opens up the floor. Eric Williams Jr., another lefty, is an outstanding on-ball defender and a mismatch. He is a productive rebounder and can hit multiple 3s in a game. In fact, Williams hit nine 3s in a game when he played at Duquesne. A real key will be Eugene Omoruyi, a transfer from Rutgers. He has shown great ability to make plays near the rim and finish through contact. Omoruyi is tough and can get you 30. LJ Figueroa is an energy giver who is the best overall defender and a good scorer. Oregon can make a deep run.
Winner: Oregon

Iowa vs. Oregon
If I were the Hawkeyes, this game would scare the hell out of me. But since Iowa is so good on the offensive end, I am taking the Hawkeyes over the Ducks. This is, however, an upset alert.
Winner: Iowa

No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 12 Georgetown Hoyas
This is an upset alert. Georgetown is long and athletic. It is the best 3-point shooting team in the Big East. But Colorado is the better team — and the more consistent team. The Hoyas are on a nice run and are a hot team. Colorado is methodical, and methodical can win in tournament play. Colorado has an excellent point guard in McKinley Wright IV, an experienced winner who can play in the open court and also drive the ball, seek out defenders to draw contact and get to the foul line. Wright is a good passer, solid finisher and great competitor. Junior big man Evan Battey is a skilled player with a big body. He draws fouls and knocks down free throws at a high rate. Nobody plays harder and with more passion for the game and his teammates than Battey. Jeriah Horne is the Buffs’ best shooter, hitting over 44% from deep. Along with Eli Parquet, he is the Buff’s best defender. Colorado leads the nation in free-throw percentage, hitting over 83 percent of its attempts. Colorado does not have a stellar nonconference résumé, but this is a Top 25 team at both ends of the floor. Georgetown is a trendy upset pick. I like Colorado.
Winner: Colorado

Florida State vs. Colorado
The Buffs are the more methodical team, but Florida State is more talented. The only thing that scares you about the Seminoles is turnovers. Florida State threw it all over the yard against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. If it does that against Colorado, the Buffs win. I think Florida State will clean that up in Indy and win.
Winner: Florida State

No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 12 Oregon State Ducks
Oregon State went on an improbable run in the Pac-12 tournament. It has a terrific guard in Ethan Thompson. But Tennessee is talented and tough at every position. Tennessee has size, depth and talent. If the Vols make shots, this team can beat anyone. Yet there have been struggles to score from time to time, and that is what can end Tennessee’s ride in Indy. Tennessee’s offense is average. But when in a flow, this group is special. Yves Pons is one of the best defenders in the country. Lefty John Fulkerson is a low-post threat. Freshman phenoms Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson are dynamic athletes and drivers who can make Tennessee truly elite. Tennessee can guard inside and out, force turnovers, force tough 2s, block shots and give you a physical beating. They wear orange, but the Vols leave you black and blue. Tennessee can get stuck on the offensive end at times but is better than the Beavers.
Winner: Tennessee

No 6 BYU Cougars vs. No. 11 Michigan State Spartans/UCLA Bruins
The Cougars are good, but seeded too high and not quite as good as last year’s BYU team. Matt Haarms is the headliner. The 7-3 transfer from Purdue has been a very good rim protector, rebounder and finisher. BYU has some versatile wings who can slash and rebound, and guards Brandon Averette and Alex Barcello can both score and distribute. Averette started his career at Oklahoma State and averages over 11 points and almost 4 assists. Barcello started his career at Arizona and averages almost 16 points and 5 assists, hitting just about 50% from deep. BYU does a great job of passing, cutting and moving the ball, although it can turn it over a little too much. Michigan State has been a puzzle all season long. Different issues at different times, but Michigan State could never seem to stabilize things. Rather, it was a roller-coaster ride. The “ups” were wins over two No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed, plus victories over Duke, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan. The assist rate has been exemplary. Aaron Henry has emerged as a consistent All-Big Ten performer. Joshua Langford has been healthy and productive. The “downs” were too numerous to mention, but whether turnovers, point-guard issues, shooting woes, defensive inconsistencies or player inconsistencies, Michigan State had very little to suggest an identity resembling anything we had come to know in the past. Can Michigan State beat UCLA? Yes. The keys will be the guard spot and Joey Hauser. UCLA runs good offense but does not defend as well as Mick Cronin would like. That is the difference between the first weekend and the second in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins need to stand their ground, fight for position and avoid late clock breakdowns. Tyger Campbell, an All-Pac-12 selection, is the strong, tough, point guard who runs the show. Jaime Jaquez is a hard-playing wing who can really shoot it. Johnny Juzang has blossomed after transferring from Kentucky. If UCLA gets stops, the Bruins can win.
Winner: Michigan State beats UCLA and then beats BYU

Ranking the tournament teams: CU No. 18; Georgetown No. 51

From CBS Sports … It feels MAGNIFICENT to finally have the NCAA Tournament back. It’s almost been two years. Two long years since Virginia won the national championship. And now we finally can brace ourselves and bask in the best sporting event in the world. Remember: the schedule is a little bit different this year. The First Four will be played on Thursday, then the first round will commence Friday and continue to Saturday.

So now that we have a field of 68, let’s get to what we do best: ranking! As always, I have assembled the field from No. 1 to No. 68. I’m taking into consideration coaching, talent, schedule/results — pretty much everything EXCEPT first-round bracket matchups.

It’s our first NCAA Tournament without Duke and Kentucky since 1976. Coincidentally enough, that year was also the last time a team went undefeated. Can 26-0 Gonzaga match 32-0 Indiana? We’ve got something of a cosmic feel to this unique NCAA Tournament. Let’s dive right in. Here’s the 2021 NCAA Tournament field, ranked from best to worst.

No. 16 … USC … If you haven’t yet seen 7-footer Evan Mobley, just know that he’s good enough and transcendent enough to get USC to its first Sweet 16 since 2007. This is the best USC team in even longer than that. Tahj Eaddy is the team’s real long-distance threat, and he’s come a long way in a few months. No shortage of confidence with him. The Trojans rank second in 2-point percentage defense (42.2%). If you’re looking for a true Final Four dark horse, this is the pick.

No. 18 … Colorado … McKinley Wright IV is a top-10 point guard in college basketball and someone who has been waiting for this moment. Colorado blew its Pac-12 title game vs. Oregon State, but don’t let that dissuade you from this team’s ceiling. Tad Boyle’s squad takes smart shots, tends to play up to its competition and ranks in the top 20 in offensive efficiency. This is the school’s highest seeding in program history.

No. 25 … Oregon … The Ducks have occasionally entered the NCAAs with a lower seed but sporting a roster good enough to make a run. We saw it two years ago when Dana Altman’s team was the only double-digit seed to make it to the Sweet 16. This is a different group from that one, but the result could wind up the same if Oregon locks in and shows off its array of shooters and wing attackers. Few teams rely as much on guys standing 6-5 to 6-8 like the Ducks.

No. 44 … UCLA … The Bruins break through despite losing four in a row. Mick Cronin took Murray State and Cincinnati to the NCAA Tournament and this is his first trip to the Big Dance with UCLA. These Bruins have a methodical offense-first approach, but they’re so far down the list because they have just one win over a top-40 KenPom team (home vs. Colorado).

No. 49 … Oregon State … The bid-thievin’ Beavers. This is just the second time in 31 years that Oregon State has made the NCAAs. And for a team that was picked last in the Pac-12 in the preseason, what a season for Wayne Tinkle’s team. Statistically, the Beavers are mostly average across the board. That tells you how good a job Tinkle did coaching this team. If another upset is going to happen, minutes-eater, senior Ethan Thompson will have to rise to the moment.

No. 51 … Georgetown … Quite clearly one of the best stories of this tournament. Patrick Ewing guided his alma mater to the NCAAs after winning four games in four days as a No. 8 seed in the Big East bracket. The Hoyas are Big East champions for the first time since 2007. They’re dancing for the first time in six years. At 13-12, the Hoyas are the rare power-conference team to be seeded lower than No. 12. Sophomore big Qudus Wahab has been a different player this month, averaging 14.3 points.


March 14th 

Bracketology last best guesses: CU to be a No. 6 seed

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since last Sunday’s bracketology)

  • No. 6 seed … USC … v. No. 11 Maryland
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … v. No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … v. No. 10 Michigan State
  • No. 11 seed … UCLA … v. No. 11 Colorado State in a play-in game
  • No. 12 seed … Oregon State … v. No. 5 Villanova

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Colorado … v. No. 12 UC-Santa Barbara
  • No. 6  seed … USC … v. No. 11 Michigan State
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … v. No. 10 St. Bonaventure
  • No. 11 seed … UCLA … v. No. 6 Villanova
  • No. 12 seed … Oregon State … v. No. 5 Creighton

The Bracket Matrix – 2021 – is a compilation of 133 different bracketologist projections. The current consensus is that Colorado is the top No. 6 seed. USC currently is the lowest No. 5 seed, right above the Buffs. Oregon is the second No. 7 seed, while UCLA is the second No. 11 seed. Oregon State, the newest entry, comes in as the highest-rated No. 12 seed.

Most rankings have CU at either a No. 5 or a No. 6, with an aggregate rating of 5.66 (USC, the lowest rated No. 5 seed, has an aggregate rating of 5.53).

The lowest CU ranking comes from a website known as “Joby’s Nitty Gritty Rankings”, which has the Buffs as a No. 9 seed.

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … Here’s how we see Selection Sunday unfolding for the conference:

— UCLA gets in and does not have to play in the First Four.

— Colorado is the highest seed, largely due to its 3-0 record against USC.

— None of the teams are seeded No. 8 or 9, allowing the conference to avoid a second-round date with the No. 1.

— The seeds are, generally speaking, a line lower than projected by major media outlets.

Best case: No. 4
Worst case: No. 7
Our pick: No. 6

Best case: No. 5
Worst case: No. 8
Our pick: No. 7

Best case: No. 6
Worst case: No. 9
Our pick: No. 7

Best case: No. 10
Worst case: no bid
Our pick: No. 11

Oregon State
Best case: No. 10
Worst case: No. 13
Our pick: No. 12

CBS Final Power Rankings: CU No. 22 team in the nation

From CBS Sports … Michigan played its first game of the season without the injured Isaiah Livers on Saturday. The opponent was Ohio State. It was the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The result was a 68-67 loss to the Buckeyes that dropped the Wolverines to 6-7 over the past two seasons in games in which Livers didn’t both start and finish healthy.

That’s not great.

But, yes, I still kept Michigan at No. 4 in Sunday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings because nobody below the Wolverines currently deserves to be ahead of the Wolverines based on the bodies of work. And, yes, I think the No. 1 seeds in the 2021 NCAA Tournament are, at this point, pretty much locked-in.

Gonzaga will be the No. 1 overall seed.

Book it.

And then, I’m fairly certain, Illinois, Baylor and Michigan will be the three other No. 1 seeds, if only because I can’t envision a scenario where the selection committee can justify anything else, which makes the final Sunday before the start of the NCAA Tournament a little anticlimactic (at least until the Selection Show starts at 6 p.m ET on CBS). Obviously, if Cincinnati becomes a bid-stealer by upsetting Houston in the American Athletic Conference Tournament title game, that’ll be a big story (and additional bad news for bubble teams who got nothing but bad news Saturday because Georgetown and Oregon State both became bid-stealers). But it’ll have no impact on the four projected No. 1 seeds, each of which has built an incredible resume that, again, at this point, seems unpassable regardless of what Alabama and Ohio State do Sunday, respectively, in the SEC Tournament title game and Big Ten Tournament title game.

From the Pac-12 … 

No. 22 … Colorado … Colorado dropped to 10-5 in the first two quadrants after Saturday’s loss to Oregon State. The Buffaloes’ resume also includes three additional losses that fall in Quadrant 3.

No. 23 … USC … USC dropped to 9-7 in the first two quadrants after Friday’s loss to Colorado. The Trojans are 4-4 in their past eight games.



March 13th

Bracketology: CU getting some (grudging) respect from Jerry Palm at CBS Sports (up to No. 6 seed)

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since last Sunday’s bracketology)

  • No. 6 seed … USC … up one spot (?)
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … up two spots since Sunday (v. No. 11 Syracuse)
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … up one spot (?)
  • No.12 seed … UCLA … down one spot (Last Four In)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

… If you want to carry a chip on your shoulder … ESPN’s Joe Lunardi makes a “aq” (automatic-qualifier) designation for the conference champion (or the predicted conference champion). For weeks either Oregon or USC have had an “aq” next to their names on the brackets. Neither can now be an “aq”. Oregon State is not in the projected bracket, which should mean, by the process of elimination, that CU should be labeled the “aq” … but it ain’t there …

  • No. 5 seed … Colorado … same as last Sunday (v. Utah State/Drake play-in game)
  • No. 6  seed … USC … same as Monday
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … down one spot
  • No. 11 seed … UCLA … down one spot


March 10th

CBS Power Rankings: CU in at No. 17 

… Perhaps someone at CBS should walk this article down the hall to Jerry Palm, who still has CU as a No. 8 seed … 

From CBS Sports … With the regular season complete, we’ve arrived at the final 2020-21 edition of the Hey Nineteen. One week from now we’ll be baking our bracket picks and ensconced in glee over the return of the NCAA Tournament after a two-year break.

This last version of the power rankings does feature some newcomers. For those who are just now starting to dive into the teams in advance of Selection Sunday, you’ll notice that my top 19 teams do not correspond with bracket forecasts. You can see where each team below projects into the field of 68 by heading over to our Bracketology hub, where Jerry Palm is updating matters daily.

With the exception of top-ranked Gonzaga, every team moved its spot this week. Let’s go one more lap around before the big conference tournaments get going.

No. 13 … Oregon … Last week: No. 18 | Record: 19-5. The Ducks have earned their placement here. Went 7-1 over a 17-day period to close out the regular season and took a second straight Pac-12 regular season title in the process. Whether it wins the Pac-12 Tournament, I don’t know. I think there could be some funkiness out in Las Vegas. But keep an eye on Chris Duarte, who is peaking. He averaged 18.3 points on 58.0% 3-point shooting and 4.7 rebounds in Oregon’s final three games. Oregon might be destined for an underseeding, and then it’ll wind up being favored against its first-round opponent.

No. 17 … Colorado … Last week: No. 19 | Record: 20-7. Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes head into the Pac-12 Tournament (as a No. 3 seed) riding a four-game winning streak. That includes wins over USC and UCLA. The program has a healthy chance make history in 2021. Colorado has made six NCAA Tournaments since seeding began in 1978. It’s never been higher than a No. 9 seed. Palm has them currently riding the No. 8 line. McKinley Wright IV is good enough to tug this squad to the second weekend if Colorado can wind up as high as a No. 5 or 6.



March 9th

Jay Bilas Index: CU the No. 19 team – “The metrics love CU, and so do I”

From ESPN … The NCAA tournament is as fair as any championship event can be. Every single team has a chance to compete against its peers, teams it has chosen to be with in a league, to gain access to the tournament through winning the league’s automatic bid. And, for the best teams after the automatic bids are determined, your team can gain entry by establishing your team among that group. This year, there is an additional spot in the at-large pool because the Ivy League opted out.

Football has a cutoff point of No. 5 to get into the title tourney. Basketball has two doors of entry into the title tourney: the automatic bid door and the at-large door. That is beyond fair.

The problem lies in the perception that the “little guy” doesn’t get as many opportunities for high-value wins, especially at the end of the season. That perception is true. The playing field is not level — and with 350-plus teams, how could it be? The most galling part of the year for the “little guy” is this week — Champ Week — a time when the bottom drops out for most “little guys,” while the Power 5 teams all gather together to allow each other a bunch of high-value, neutral-court opportunities to separate from the unwashed masses after somewhat mediocre regular-season results.

The Bilas Index was born out of an idea for the selection committee and the selection and seeding process, and to bring more value and importance to the regular season. It is a great exercise to rank the teams from 1 to 68 during the regular season and to use such an index as your “at-large” pool. I believe Selection Sunday should be at the end of the regular season, not at the end of Champ Week.

Here is The Bilas Plan, which includes use of The Bilas Index:

This year, on Sunday, March 7, the selection committee meets and puts out its “At-Large Seed List.” The committee ranks eligible teams from 1 to 68. That is the final, at-large pool, in order, based upon the regular season. Then, the conference tournaments are for the determination of the automatic bids only. Duke cannot pad its résumé with a run in the ACC tournament. Michigan State cannot put another couple of scoops on its sundae.

All either can do is win the automatic bid. That’s it. The regular-season hay is in the barn. Voila! The regular season has its rightful importance, and the “little guy” has a better chance. Plus, the fan gets two Sundays of enjoyment: the 68 team “At-Large Seed List” and then the full bracket one Sunday later. In between, the bottom teams of the “At-Large Seed List” are knocked off, one at a time, as automatic bids are won. You’re welcome, America.

Now, here is my “At-Large Seed List” based upon the regular season. It is also known as The Bilas Index. You’re welcome again, America.

19. Colorado Buffaloes … The metrics love Colorado, and so do I. With McKinley Wright IV, Evan Battey and Jeriah Horne, the Buffs have a great point guard, a talented big and an outstanding 3-point shooter. A key when playing Tad Boyle’s team? Don’t foul. Colorado is the best free throw shooting team in America, hitting more than 83% from the stripe.

20. USC Trojans … Aside from a couple of hiccups, the Trojans have been solid and improving throughout the season. Length and athleticism at the rim allows perimeter defenders to press up and crowd opposing perimeter scorers. USC’s defense is among the top 10 that I have seen this year. Tahj Eaddy Drew Peterson and Ethan Anderson are all good passers. Evan Mobley is an unselfish star who can make a difference in the NCAA tournament. USC is very capable but is also the type of team that can get bounced in the second round.

33. Oregon Ducks … The Ducks have spent most of the season just outside the national radar, yet played consistently enough down the stretch to earn the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament. Dana Altman has a bunch of good players but St. John’s transfer LJ Figueroa has been outstanding of late — he has made 21 of his 29 shots inside the arc over Oregon’s past four games (all wins).

34. UCLA Bruins … UCLA has managed to tread water all season despite injury issues, but the Bruins’ current three-game losing streak raises questions about whether they’ve finally hit a wall. Chris Smith (knee) was lost for the season on New Year’s Eve and Jalen Hill and Johnny Juzang both missed Saturday’s loss to USC with injuries. Coach Mick Cronin will need a healthy group to survive and advance.

Read full story here


March 8th

New AP Poll has CU up to No. 23; Buffs still on the outside looking in in Coaches’ poll (No. 26) 

From CBS Sports … Michigan may have gotten the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a claim of the regular-season championship, but AP voters are giving the nod to Illinois as the best team in the conference after the Fighting Illini handed the Wolverines one of their two losses in the final week of the season.

No. 1 Gonzaga was off all week, and held its spot at No. 1 with 61-first place votes. Baylor moved up one spot to No. 2 in the reshuffling of the top four, picking up two first-place votes after a tremendous week that included three wins against ranked teams, and Illinois was bumped up to No. 3, one spot ahead of Michigan. The voters appear to be honoring the head-to-head result over winning percentage, which was used to crown the Wolverines as league champions heading into the conference tournament.

Oklahoma State moved up five spots to No. 12 after a busy week that included a sweep of rival Oklahoma, a loss to Baylor that included Cade Cunningham suffering an ankle injury and then a Cunningham-less win at West Virginia. The Mountaineers went 1-2 last week, sandwiching a win against TCU between losses to the Bears and Cowboys, and fell four spots to No. 10.

Villanova and Florida State were both notable for finishing the regular season with a loss, the Wildcats against Providence and the Seminoles at Notre Dame, and each dropped four spots in the rankings to No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. Virginia got a boost after its two wins helped propel it to the program’s fifth ACC regular season title in the last eight years, moving up five spots to No. 16.

The biggest movement in either direction was Oklahoma’s nine-spot drop to No. 25 following losses to Oklahoma State and Texas. Wisconsin was the only team to drop out of the rankings, clearing the way for USC’s arrival at No 24 following its epic buzzer-beating win at UCLA.

Check out the full AP Top 25 below: 

1 Gonzaga (61)
2 Baylor (2)
3 Illinois
4 Michigan
5 Iowa
6 Alabama
7 Houston
8 Arkansas
9 Ohio State
10 West Virginia
11 Kansas
12 Oklahoma State
13 Texas
14 Villanova
15 Florida State
16 Virginia
17 Creighton
18 Loyola Chicago
19 San Diego State
T-20 Texas Tech
T-20 Purdue
22 Virginia Tech
23 Colorado
24 Southern California
25 Oklahoma

Others receiving votes: BYU 93, Oregon 67, Connecticut 53, Clemson 25, Wisconsin 24, Tennessee 14, Wichita State 13, St. Bonaventure 11, Winthrop 7, Virginia Commonwealth 4, LSU 2, San Diego 1, Michigan State 1, UC Santa Barbara 1

Check out the full Coaches Poll below: 

1. Gonzaga (31 first-place votes)
2. Baylor
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. Alabama
6. Iowa
7. Houston
8. Arkansas
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
11. Villanova
12. Kansas
13. Florida State
14. Oklahoma State
15. Virginia
16. Texas
17. Creighton
18. Loyola Chicago
19. San Diego State
19. Purdue
21. Virginia Tech
22. Texas Tech
23. USC
24. Oklahoma
25. Oregon 

Others Receiving Votes: Colorado 68; Brigham Young 39; Wichita St. 26; Connecticut 26; Clemson 25; Tennessee 9; Drake 8; Winthrop 7; St. Bonaventure 7; Michigan St 7; UCLA 3; Toledo 3; Wisconsin 2; North Carolina 2; Florida 2; Colorado St. 1.


March 7th

Bracketology: CU getting some (grudging) respect from Jerry Palm at CBS Sports

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Monday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … USC … same as Monday
  • No. 8 seed … Colorado … up one spot since Monday (v. No. 9 Rutgers)
  • No. 8 seed … Oregon … up two spots
  • No.11 seed … UCLA … down two spot
  • Stanford … Out … no longer being mentioned

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Colorado … same as Monday (v. 12-seed Toledo)
  • No. 6  seed … USC … same as Monday
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … up two spots (listed as the Pac-12’s automatic qualifier … was UCLA on Monday)
  • No. 10 seed … UCLA … down one spot
  • Stanford … Out … no longer being mentioned


March 6th

The Bracket Matrix – consensus is that CU is a No. 6 seed

The Bracket Matrix – 2021 – is a compilation of 133 different bracketologist projections. The current consensus is that Colorado is the top No. 6 seed. USC currently is the lowest No. 5 seed, right above the Buffs. Oregon is the second No. 8 seed, while UCLA is the lowest No. 9 seed.

The highest CU ranking is from College Basketball Ranking, which has CU as a No. 3 seed.

The lowest CU ranking (surprise!) is from Jerry Palm at CBS Sports, which has the Buffs as a No. 9 seed.

(Not for nothing, but the website also tracks accuracy of predictions over the past five seasons, and Jerry Palm at CBS Sports is ranked No. 85 out of the 133 bracketologists (Joe Lunardi, who is No. 55 on the ratings list, has CU as a No. 5 seed).


March 5th

KenPom (No. 17) and NET Rankings (No. 14) has CU solidly in the field

From Kenpom.com …

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 16 – USC
  • No. 17 – Colorado – down one spot since Monday
  • No. 37 – Oregon
  • No. 44 – UCLA
  • No. 48 – Arizona
  • No. 79 – Stanford
  • No. 83 – Utah
  • No. 96 – Oregon State
  • No. 102 – Arizona State
  • No. 107 – Washington State
  • No. 170 – California
  • No. 181 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com …

  • No. 14 – Colorado – down one spot since Monday
  • No. 16- USC
  • No. 34 – Oregon
  • No. 43 – UCLA
  • No. 47 – Arizona
  • No. 70 – Stanford
  • No. 98 – Utah
  • No. 102 – Washington State
  • No. 104 – Arizona State
  • No. 101- Oregon State
  • No. 189 – California
  • No. 202 – Washington

All in: CU moves from “Should be in” to “Lock” at ESPN’s Bubble Watch



Locks: USC, Oregon, Colorado

Should be in: 

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins played well for about 30 minutes at Oregon only to falter down the stretch and lose by eight. Jules Bernard was outstanding in a losing cause, ringing up a career-high 23 points on just 16 shots. Mick Cronin’s team entered the contest carrying a No. 9 seed in mock brackets and will now wrap up its regular season with a home game against USC. This is a team that could still capture a share of the Pac-12 title, but purveyors of mock brackets have yet to warm up to a profile that shows a victory at home over Colorado as the best win.

… Here’s what had been previously posted about CU (prior to the Arizona State game), when the Buffs were in the “Should be In” category … 

Colorado Buffaloes

Gaze upon the Buffaloes for one last admiring time, for it’s exceedingly likely that the Buffaloes are about to become a lock. Tad Boyle’s team cooled off UCLA’s win streak with a 70-61 victory in Boulder. A projected No. 7 seed, Colorado now stands at 19-7 with wins over the Bruins and Oregon as well as season sweeps of both USC and Stanford. In the victory over the Bruins, McKinley Wright IV did McKinley Wright IV things. The senior scored 26 points on 16 shots while dishing six assists as CU put the finishing touches on an impressive two-game display of offense at home against UCLA and the Trojans.


March 3rd

Bubble Watch at The Athletic: CU now a “lock” for NCAA tournament

From The Athletic

Automatic bids from non-Bubble Watch (i.e. one-bid) leagues: 20
Locks: 27
Should be in: 9
Work to do: 23

  • Résumé numbers are updated as of Monday night. Records are accurate as of Tuesday morning. Massive thanks as ever to Warren Nolan, whose NET nitty-gritty page remains the best tab to pin in Chrome and never close for, like, six straight weeks. Still haven’t closed that thing. It’s always there.
  • A reminder (especially for the Maryland fans who keep mistakenly correcting us): Records are for Division I wins and losses only. Random games against D-III teams don’t count; the selection committee doesn’t include them in its deliberations, so neither do we.
  • Please excuse dumb omissions and (especially) scheduling-related errors. A lot is happening, pretty much all the time. Just let us know, and we’ll get it fixed.
  • It’s March now. Had you heard?


We guess we kind of have to lock USC. The Trojans didn’t exactly impress last week, losing by double digits both at Colorado (which, fine) and at Utah (which, not ideal). We’ve held off this long on USC because, despite its sheer quantity of wins and a high NET number (and the existence of Evan Mobley, one of our favorite players to watch this season), the underlying résumé isn’t that strong. USC beat BYU on a neutral court; that’s its only notable nonconference win. It’s 3-3 against Quadrant 1, 4-3 against Quadrant 2, and 12 of its 19 wins fall into Quadrants 3 and 4. Despite all this, looking at it now, even if the Trojans were to lose out, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll miss the tournament. A huge number of teams would have to find a way to pass them, to an extent that isn’t reasonable. Their seed could take a disproportionate dive, sure. But they’ll still get in.

The same is true for Colorado, which locked itself up with some gusto last week. If not for three bad losses, the Buffaloes would have long since gotten here. It’s hard to look past defeats to Utah (home), Cal and Washington, which have made this otherwise solid group have an odd-looking 6-3 record against Quadrant 3 opposition. Other than that, though, this résumé is as pristine as the fresh powder on some mountain close to Boulder blah blah blah. (Fill in the rest of the Bill Walton mad libs on your own time.) Last week was especially good: The Buffs finished off a regular-season sweep of USC, then handled a good UCLA team, 70-61, behind McKinley Wright IV’s 26 points and six assists.

Locks: Colorado, USC
Should be in: UCLA, Oregon
Work to do: Stanford

UCLA (17-6, 13-4; NET: 38, SOS: 104): The Bruins don’t quite have a lockable résumé, but they’re not super far off, which is to say that with two games left in the regular season we don’t envision them missing the tournament. Are there more impressive team sheets than one with a 2-4 Q1 record and a 3-2 mark against Q2? Yes! It’d be nice if UCLA had more good wins. The Bruins probably will ultimately be a high single-digit seed. But with Oregon and USC left this week, it’s hard to see them getting knocked back to the bubble.

Oregon (17-5, 12-4; NET: 44, SOS: 145): Late during Oregon’s win over Arizona on Monday night, as the broadcast conversation wandered to the logistics of the NCAA Tournament, Jimmy Dykes brought up a great point: The officials have been pretty awesome this year. As he rightly noted, very few games have been canceled or postponed because officials weren’t available, or had to be taken off the floor after a positive test; generally speaking, the refs have helped keep the game going as much as anyone else involved in it. Great point, Jimmy! As for Oregon, the Ducks’ win over Arizona goes down as another top-50 NET win, albeit one in Quadrant 2, but their relative ease in dispatching a pretty good Wildcats team speaks to the gradual progress Dana Altman’s team is making late in the year. It’s a team with flaws — both on the floor and on the team sheet — but it’s not one we’d be eager to see in a single-elimination tournament either.

Stanford (14-11, 10-9; NET: 64, SOS: 57): Stanford is offering up some of the highest bubble drama you’ll find anywhere in college basketball. On Feb. 20 the Cardinal, already perpetually on the bubble, lost at Washington State in triple OT. Not great for Stanford, but fun for anyone who enjoys the intense adrenaline hit of nervous collegians playing mediocre basketball. (More. MORE!) The Cardinal followed up that defeat with two straight losses at home, to Oregon and Oregon State, but with a catch: Center Oscar da Silva, the team’s best and most productive player, missed both games due to injury. That’s something the committee will have to take into consideration, but that assumes da Silva returns soon. In an ideal world, he’d be back for Wednesday’s trip to USC, where he could cap a remarkable four-year career in Palo Alto with a winning performance against lottery pick wunderkind Evan Mobley, guiding his school to to the NCAA Tournament promised land. But really, even a win at USC wouldn’t be enough to clear the Cardinal off the bubble. There’s still a lot of work to do here, and not a lot of time, or chances, in which to do it.

Continue reading story here (subscription required) …


March 2nd 

CU (along with Oregon) joins CBS’ “Power Rankings”

From CBS Sports … Believe it or not, we are in the final week of the regular season.

And there is no lack of shakeup in the power rankings. Top-10 teams (not named Gonzaga or Michigan) are losing with some increased regularity. March is here, so you know how that goes. We are seeing shifting, with the promise of more surprises soon to come.

Let’s not waste any more time. This is the penultimate edition of the Hey Nineteen; next Tuesday will be the finale. And for reference, you can see where each team below projects into the field of 68 by heading over to our Bracketology hub, where Jerry Palm is updating matters daily.

No. 18 OregonLast week: N/R | Record: 17-5. Gotta put the Ducks in. Dana Altman’s team is 8-1 in its past nine games, the only loss at USC. Oregon’s moving toward a role it’s played before: double-digit Sweet 16 threat. Chris Duarte is a stud. I underrated him heading into the season. He does so much for this team alongside Eugene Omoruyi and LJ Figueroa. There’s a big-time game at home vs. UCLA on Wednesday that will have consequences both for the Pac-12 bracket and for UCLA’s NCAA Tournament positioning. I’ll be locked in on that one.

No. 19ColoradoLast week: N/R | Record: 17-5. A bottleneck for the 19th spot this week, like most weeks. Colorado is the pick. The Buffaloes just beat USC and UCLA, throwing a wrench into the Pac-12 proceedings in the process. McKinley Wright IV is wrapping up his final regular season impressively: 20.7 points and 7.7 assists on average in Colorado’s three most recent games/wins. The Buffaloes are projected on the No. 9 line in Jerry Palm’s most recent Bracketology rundown.

Read entire Power Rankings list here

Bracketology: CU up to a No. 5 seed at ESPN

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Last Friday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … USC … same as last Friday
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … same as last Friday (v. No. 8 Louisville)
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … down one spot
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … up one spot
  • Stanford … Out … on the list of “First Four Out”

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Colorado … up two spots from last Friday (v. winner of play-in game between 12-seeds Xavier and Georgia Tech)
  • No. 6  seed … USC … down one spot
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … down one spot (but Pac-12 tournament champ)
  • No. 9 seed … Oregon … same as last Friday
  • Stanford … Out …


March 1st

CU enters the Top 25! 24th-ranked Buffs only Pac-12 team in the AP poll

… Buffs still on the outside looking in (tied for No. 26) in USA Today Coaches’ poll … 

From CBS Sports … Baylor took its first loss of the season on Saturday in a 71-58 defeat on the road to Kansas that left only one undefeated team — No. 1 Gonzaga — left standing in college basketball. So on Monday it prompted a substantial shakeup inside the top five of the AP Top 25, with the Bears falling out of the No. 2 spot for the first time all season.

Slotting in at No. 2 in their place is Michigan, which dismantled Indiana on Saturday to claim its seventh consecutive win. The Wolverines (18-1, 13-1 Big Ten) missed nearly a month of action in January and February on a COVID pause, but have won five straight games since their return. They can clinch the Big Ten regular-season title Tuesday against Illinois, which stands in second in the race. And they are already well-positioned to secure a No. 1 seed in Jerry Palm’s latest Bracketology.

The No. 2 ranking for Michigan is its highest under coach Juwan Howard and the highest as a program since John Beilein got them to the No. 2 spot in 2019, per data from college basketball reference.

As for Gonzaga, it closed its regular season Saturday with an 86-69 win over Loyola Marymount to complete a wire-to-wire run — from preseason to the end of its regular season — as the No. 1 team in the sport. The Bulldogs garnered 59 first-place votes, drawing some lingering votes away from Baylor backers after it lost over the weekend. Baylor dropped to No. 3 and did not receive any first-place votes for the first time all season.

AP Top 25

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sunday, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

1Gonzaga (59)24-01,5711
2Michigan (4)18-11,5123
6West Virginia17-61,21010
7Ohio State18-71,1634
11Florida State14-489711
17Oklahoma State16-6553NR
18Texas Tech15-849418
19San Diego State19-440622
20Loyola Chicago21-436721
22Virginia Tech15-533516

Others receiving votes: BYU 101, USC 88, Clemson 47, Florida 24, Tennessee 19, St. Bonaventure 16, Oregon 15, Missouri 13, Wichita State 11, Maryland 9, Toledo 8, Connecticut 5, Belmont 5, Winthrop 4, North Carolina 4, UCLA 2, Louisville 2, UC Santa Barbara 1, Drake 1. 

USA Today/Coaches’ poll … 

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Michigan
  3. Baylor
  4. Illinois
  5. West Virginia
  6. Alabama
  7. Houston
  8. Iowa
  9. Villanova
  10. Ohio State
  11. Florida State
  12. Creighton
  13. Arkansas
  14. Kansas
  15. Oklahoma
  16. Texas
  17. Oklahoma State
  18. Texas Tech
  19. Virginia Tech
  20. Virginia
  21. San Diego State
  22. Loyola Chicago
  23. Purdue
  24. USC
  25. Oregon

Others receiving votes: Wisconsin 43; Colorado 43; UCLA 25; Brigham Young 25; Wichita St. 21; Maryland 21; Drake 19; Clemson 18; Florida 14; Connecticut 14; Missouri 12; Belmont 11; Tennessee 9; Winthrop 6; North Carolina 6; Rutgers 3; Xavier 2; Louisville 2; Toledo 1; St. Bonaventure 1; Michigan St 1.


February 28th

KenPom (No. 16) and NET Rankings (No. 13) has CU atop the Pac-12

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 16 – Colorado – same as before UCLA game
  • No. 21 – USC
  • No. 39 – UCLA
  • No. 41 – Oregon
  • No. 43 – Arizona
  • No. 70 – Stanford
  • No. 82 – Utah
  • No. 98 – Arizona State
  • No. 99 – Oregon State
  • No. 105 – Washington State
  • No. 168 – California
  • No. 181 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 13 – Colorado – up three spots
  • No. 25- USC
  • No. 37 – UCLA
  • No. 40 – Arizona
  • No. 44 – Oregon
  • No. 63 – Stanford
  • No. 93 – Utah
  • No. 101 – Washington State
  • No. 105 – Arizona State
  • No. 108- Oregon State
  • No. 186 – California
  • No. 199 – Washington

ESPN “Bubble Watch”: “It’s exceedingly likely that the Buffaloes are about to become a lock”


Pac-12 … 



Should be in: 

Colorado Buffaloes

Gaze upon the Buffaloes for one last admiring time, for it’s exceedingly likely that the Buffaloes are about to become a lock. Tad Boyle’s team cooled off UCLA’s win streak with a 70-61 victory in Boulder. A projected No. 7 seed, Colorado now stands at 19-7 with wins over the Bruins and Oregon as well as season sweeps of both USC and Stanford. In the victory over the Bruins, McKinley Wright IV did McKinley Wright IV things. The senior scored 26 points on 16 shots while dishing six assists as CU put the finishing touches on an impressive two-game display of offense at home against UCLA and the Trojans.

UCLA Bruins

Mick Cronin’s team was poised to both boost its projected seed and wrest control of the Pac-12 title race until a nine-point defeat at Colorado brought a four-game winning streak to an end. The conference title will now hinge in part on the upcoming game between the Bruins and Oregon in Eugene, as the two teams are tied in the loss column for the league lead. If UCLA can record victories over the Ducks on the road and USC at Pauley Pavilion, the team can still climb higher in mock brackets than the No. 9 line that it now inhabits.

Oregon Ducks

The Ducks have maintained their position as a No. 9 seed in mock brackets, and holding on to the spot for one last regular-season week will require endurance. After a sweep of Stanford and Cal on the road, Oregon will have to turn right around in a window of about 51 hours and play a home game against Arizona. UCLA goes to Eugene two nights later, and Oregon will finish at Oregon State. The Ducks are about to play three games in six days, but say this for Dana Altman’s men: They’ve been playing a punishing schedule since mid-February and have lost only the one game at USC in that stretch.

Work to do:

Stanford Cardinal

For the second game in a row, Stanford played without Oscar da Silva. For the second game in a row, the Cardinal lost. Jerod Haase’s team dropped back-to-back home games against Oregon and Oregon State after da Silva suffered a “lower extremity” injury in practice. Stanford is now 10-9 in the Pac-12, and the team began the game against the Beavers shown in mock brackets as one of the first four teams out. This profile still has its crown jewel, a neutral-floor victory over Alabama, but now the Cardinal will in all probability have to win at USC in order to stay in this conversation.


February 26th

Bracketology: Jerry Palm sees the light – CU back up to a No. 9 seed

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Last Friday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … USC … down two spots from last week
  • No. 8 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … up three spots (v. No. 8 seed BYU)
  • No. 11 seed … Oregon … down one spot (onto “Last Four In” list)
  • Stanford … Out … on the list of “First Four Out”

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5  seed … USC … same as last Friday
  • No. 7 seed … Colorado … same as last Friday (v. No. 10 North Carolina)
  • No. 8 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 9 seed … Oregon … same as last Friday
  • Stanford … Out … down from “Last Four In” to “First Four Out” –

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 15 – USC
  • No. 16 – Colorado – up one spot
  • No. 38 – Arizona
  • No. 40 – UCLA
  • No. 43 – Oregon
  • No. 64 – Stanford
  • No. 88 – Utah
  • No. 97 – Arizona State
  • No. 103 – Washington State
  • No. 109 – Oregon State
  • No. 168 – California
  • No. 185 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 16 – Colorado – up eight spots
  • No. 23- USC
  • No. 38 – UCLA
  • No. 39 – Arizona
  • No. 46 – Oregon
  • No. 60 – Stanford
  • No. 101 – Washington State
  • No. 105 – Utah
  • No. 106 – Arizona State
  • No. 119- Oregon State
  • No. 190 – California
  • No. 201 – Washington


February 22nd 

Pac-12 Power Rankings: CU holding steady at No. 4

From the San Jose Mercury News … To the power ratings (NET rankings Saturday’s games) …

1. USC (18-4/12-3)
Last week: 1
Results: Beat ASU 89-71, lost to Arizona 81-72
Next up: vs. Oregon (Monday)
NET ranking: 19
Comment: Late last week, we noted the schedule change that put USC in five-games-in-10-days squeeze. What we didn’t mention: After the showdown with Oregon, the Trojans leave for the exceedingly difficult Mountain trip.

2. UCLA (16-5/12-3)
Last week: 2
Results: Beat Arizona 74-60 and ASU 80-79
Next up: at Utah (Thursday)
NET ranking: 42
Comment: If the Bruins end up winning the regular-season title, we might look back at Mick Cronin’s decision to go zone in the final minute Saturday as the chess move of the year — the Sun Devils had no idea how to attack, and their scoreless possession set up the UCLA victory.

3. Oregon (14-4/9-3)
Last week: 3
Results: Beat Colorado 60-56 and Utah 67-64
Next up: at USC (Monday)
NET ranking: 40
Comment: That’s five wins in a row — no surprise for a Dana Altman team — and the last three have come by two, three and four points.

4. Colorado (17-7/11-6)
Last week: 4
Results: Lost at Oregon 60-56, won at OSU 61-57
Next up: vs. USC (Thursday)
NET ranking: 20
Comment: Addition of the fifth bye in the Pac-12 tournament — because only 11 teams are eligible — means we know the No. 4 and 5 seeds will collide in the quarterfinals. The Buffs and Stanford are all-but-assured of those slots based on the current standings and paucity of games left. Might as well start scouting each other now.

Continue reading story here


February 21st

ESPN Bubble Watch: CU solidifies position with win over Oregon State

From ESPN … Thanks to a one-point win at home over Virginia, the Duke Blue Devils can now be found here at Bubble Watch. This is going to take some getting used to.

In the storied annals of Bubble Watch, you haven’t often seen Mike Krzyzewski’s team here. Perhaps very early in the tournament discussion, sure. But then “Should be in” teams become locks as we get closer to Selection Sunday and, invariably, Duke is nowhere to be seen around these parts.

In fact, the Blue Devils haven’t been seeded lower than the No. 4 line in an NCAA tournament since 2007. Every February, you’ll find Bubble Watch discussing some other teams at length while the Blue Devils prepare for yet another run as a high seed. That is, every February until now.

From the Pac-12 …

Should be in

USC Trojans

On the very cusp of being classified as a lock, USC saw its seven-game win streak come to an end in an 81-72 loss at home to Arizona. It was an impressive performance by the young Wildcats, and, by the same token, it is by no means the end of the world for the Trojans. Andy Enfield’s group still has an upwardly mobile move to “lock” territory in its near future, Evan Mobley is still having a Pac-12 player of the year-level season, and, indeed, he scored 23 points and recorded four blocks in a losing effort against Arizona. Nevertheless, the road doesn’t get any easier for USC. Its next games will be at Colorado and at Utah.

Colorado Buffaloes

After losses on the road to Cal and to Oregon, the Buffaloes saw their expected seed drop just one line in the mock brackets. What was once a No. 6 seed became a spot on the No. 7 line, and that is likely where Colorado will stay after its four-point win at Oregon State. Now it’s time for the main event, not only for CU but, kind of, for the entire conference. For the balance of the Bubble Watch season, the “Should be in” section of the Pac-12 has included three teams: USC, UCLA and Colorado. Over the final weekend of the regular season, Tad Boyle’s team will host first the Trojans and then the Bruins in Boulder.

UCLA Bruins

As a projected No. 9 seed with a 16-5 record, Mick Cronin’s team finds itself entirely reliant on Pac-12 teams other than USC to define just how good UCLA’s “good wins” really are. The Bruins lost to both Ohio State and San Diego State, leaving a three-point win at home over Colorado as far and away the highlight of this profile. Phrased less charitably, that game marks the Bruins’ only win against an at-large-caliber opponent. UCLA will have an opportunity to change this state of affairs when it closes the season with games against the Buffaloes and Trojans.

Work to do

Oregon Ducks

With five straight wins and, most crucially, a 60-56 victory at home over Colorado in its pocket, Oregon has continued to solidify its projected No. 9 seed in the field of 68. Defeating the Buffaloes ranks alongside wins over Seton Hall and Stanford as this team’s most important wins of the season. Chris Duarte has hit shots from both sides of the arc all season long, the senior has posted the Pac-12’s highest steal rate and the Ducks as a team excel at forcing opposing offenses into turnovers. The only potential cloud on this horizon is the schedule. Dana Altman’s group is slated to finish the season with four road games.

Stanford Cardinal

After an epic 85-76 loss in three overtimes at Washington State, the Cardinal are 14-9 and 10-7 in the Pac-12. At tipoff against the Cougars, Jerod Haase’s group was being projected variously as just in or just outside of the field. By itself, a Quad 2 defeat on the road might not alter Stanford’s position in the bracket as much as all the wins and losses being recorded by all the other bubble teams. In any event, the Cardinal still have games to play at home against Oregon and Oregon State. Though Stanford has struggled at times this season with both a high turnover rate and a low offensive rebound percentage, this team might yet play its way into the field if it gives itself enough chances to score.

Read full story here

Buffs back into the Top 20 in both NET and Kenpom rankings

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 13 – USC
  • No. 17 – Colorado – no change from Friday
  • No. 36 – Oregon
  • No. 39 – Arizona
  • No. 43 – UCLA
  • No. 61 – Stanford
  • No. 82 – Utah
  • No. 96 – Washington State
  • No. 99 – Arizona State
  • No. 106 – Oregon State
  • No. 155 – California
  • No. 168 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 19 – USC – down five from Friday
  • No. 20 – Colorado – up one spot from Friday
  • No. 40 – Oregon
  • No. 42 – UCLA
  • No. 44 – Arizona
  • No. 57 – Stanford
  • No. 95 – Washington State
  • No. 96 – Utah
  • No. 118 – Arizona State
  • No. 122 – Oregon State
  • No. 182 – California
  • No. 190 – Washington


February 19th

Buffs on the Bubble: CBS Bracketology has CU down to a No. 12 seed 

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Tuesday’s bracketology)

  • No. 5 seed … USC … same as Tuesday
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … same as Tuesday
  • No. 12 seed … Colorado … down two spots (Last four in v. No. 12 Indiana) 
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … same as Tuesday
  • Stanford … Out … but back into list of “First Four Out”

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5  seed … USC … same as Tuesday
  • No. 7 seed … Colorado … down one spot (v. No. 10 Indiana)
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … same as Tuesday
  • No. 9 seed … Oregon … up one spot
  • No. 11 seed  … Stanford … up one spot (Still part of Last Four In)

Buffs continue to hold their own in NET and Kenpom rankings

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 12 – USC
  • No. 17 – Colorado – down from 14
  • No. 38 – Oregon
  • No. 41 – UCLA
  • No. 46 – Arizona
  • No. 58 – Stanford
  • No. 78 – Utah
  • No. 99 – Arizona State
  • No. 102 – Washington State
  • No. 109 – Oregon State
  • No. 149 – California
  • No. 178 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 14 – USC
  • No. 21 – Colorado – down from 19
  • No. 39 – UCLA
  • No. 43 – Oregon
  • No. 53 – Stanford
  • No. 54 – Arizona
  • No. 96 – Utah
  • No. 101 – Washington State
  • No. 120 – Arizona State
  • No. 124 – Oregon State
  • No. 176 – California
  • No. 197 – Washington


February 16th

Tuesday Bracketology: CU down to No. 10 seed at CBS; UP (?) to a six seed at ESPN

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since last Tuesday’s bracketology)

  • No. 5 seed … USC … up two spots
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 10 seed … Colorado … down one spot (v. No. 7 Arkansas) 
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … up one spot
  • Stanford … Out … down from “First Four Out” last week

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5  seed … USC … down one spot
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … up one spot (v. No. 11 North Carolina)
  • No. 9 seed … UCLA … down two spots
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … up two spots
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … down one spot (Last Four In)


February 15th

CU (only) drops to No. 30 in the Associated Press poll

… Buffs drop from 32nd to 35th in USA Today/Coaches’ poll … 

From CBS Sports … The top of this week’s AP Top 25 college basketball rankings has a fresh face in the mix of the top five, with Illinois moving up one spot to No. 5. The Illini, riding a five-game winning streak, snatched Villanova’s spot after the Wildcats took their second loss in four games in lopsided fashion to Creighton over the weekend. Villanova dropped several spots but managed to hang in the top 10.

The No. 5 ranking matches the Illini’s highest ranking of the season, which came all the way back in Week 2. They endured a rough patch in December, hit a few speed bumps in January but have turned a corner of late with two of the wins in their latest hot streak coming against ranked foes. On Saturday, they earned the distinction of a No. 2 seed — and the fifth overall rated team — by the NCAA selection committee as part of its annual Bracket Preview. Their six wins in Quadrant 1 games matches No. 1 seed Baylor and is two more than 1 seed Michigan.

There were several other new entries into this week’s top 10 as well, as Alabama jumped to No. 8 from 11 and Oklahoma moved to No. 9 from 12. Texas Tech and Missouri both took major tumbles out of the top 10 to pave the way for those risers, but managed to hang in the poll at No. 15 and No. 20, respectively.

Kansas rejoined the poll at No. 23 after a one-week hiatus. Arkansas also joined the rankings at No. 24, its first appearance in the AP poll since the 2017-18 season.

1Gonzaga (59)20-01,5951
2Baylor (5)17-01,5412
4Ohio State17-41,4024
13West Virginia14-683714
15Texas Tech14-67927
16Florida State11-362517
17Southern California17-358720
18Virginia Tech14-451418
22Loyola Chicago18-416722
25San Diego State15-475NR

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State 71, Rutgers 49, Belmont 47, Louisville 40, Colorado 31, Oregon 30, Drake 22, Purdue 20, Florida 17, Clemson 17, LSU 16, UCLA 11, VCU 10, Saint Louis 5, Xavier 4, Toledo 3, UC Santa Barbara 2, Western Kentucky 2, North Carolina 2, BYU 1, Wichita State 1, Wright State 1, Utah State 1. 

USA Today / Coaches’ poll … 

4Ohio St.17-46805
11Texas Tech14-64128
15West Virginia14-636014
16Florida State11-334219
17Virginia Tech14-431617
18Southern California17-328420
22Oklahoma State13-610922

Also receiving votes: San Diego State 45; Louisville 41; Arkansas 32; Rutgers 28; Belmont 28; Purdue 23; Drake 19; Clemson 16; Florida 15; UCLA 13; Colorado 13; LSU 12; Utah State 7; Seton Hall 5; Winthrop 4; Colorado State 3; St. John’s 2; Saint Louis 2; Boise St. 2; Xavier 1.

NET and Kenpom rankings keep CU in the Top 20 nationally

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 12 – USC
  • No. 14 – Colorado 
  • No. 36 – Oregon
  • No. 41 – Arizona
  • No. 45 – UCLA
  • No. 60 – Stanford
  • No. 66 – Utah
  • No. 88 – Arizona State
  • No. 104 – Washington State
  • No. 121 – Oregon State
  • No. 135 – California
  • No. 168 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 15 – USC
  • No. 19 – Colorado
  • No. 46 – Arizona
  • No. 47 – Oregon
  • No. 48 – UCLA
  • No. 60 – Stanford
  • No. 84 – Utah
  • No. 102 – Washington State
  • No. 120 – Arizona State
  • No. 134 – Oregon State
  • No. 177 – California
  • No. 202 – Washington


February 14th

TeamRankings.com: Even with Cal loss, Buffs at 97.9% chance of making the NCAA Tournament

From TeamRankings.com

Colorado tournament projections … 

  • Chances of making the tournament: 97.9% … up from 97.2% last week (but down from 99.7% before the Cal game)
  • Chances of an automatic bid: 27.7% … up from 25.1% last week (but down from 32.1% before the Cal game)
  • Chances of an at-large bid: 70.1% … down from 72.1% last week
  • Most likely seed: No. 5 (14.6%) … down from No. 5 seed last week
  • Chances at a Final Four: 5.4% … down from from 5.5% last week
  • Chances of winning national championship: 0.7% … same as last week


CBS Sports: Buffs “may still be bumping their heads against the ceiling of mediocrity as they so often do”

From CBS Sports … Saturday’s slate of college basketball slate kicked off with an early look at where things stand in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, as the annual bracket preview provided a glimpse at who the top 16 seeds were entering the day’s action. But just a few hours later, things began to shift as another weekend of upsets and tight finishes got rolling.

Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Villanova — each featured among the top 16 — had all fallen by early evening, offering a nice reminder of just how fickle the art of Bracketology is at this time of year. But for every ranked team that falls victim to an upset, there is an eager counterpart in the win column looking to capitalize on the dwindling amount of regular season time to gear up for a postseason run.

The day featured plenty of big winners and big losers, so here’s a recap of some highlights from another full day of hoops.

Winner: The Pac-12 title race shaping up for great finish

Oregon’s 63-61 victory over Arizona was the Ducks’ third straight and keeps them in the race for the Pac-12 title along with USC, UCLA and Colorado. With leading scorer Chris Duarte back at full speed and last year’s third-leading scorer Will Richardson back in the lineup after a December hand surgery, the Ducks are beginning to hit their stride. Duarte hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left against the Wildcats. Last year, it was UCLA that finished the season on a tear to make the Pac-12 championship race interesting. Oregon looks like it’s going to play that role this season. But a game against Colorado on Thursday looms large among two teams jockeying to keep pace with the Trojans and Bruins.

Loser: Colorado’s bid for Pac-12 supremacy

With three straight Pac-12 victories under its belt, Colorado entered Saturday’s game at lowly Cal with a 10-4 league record and a real shot, it seemed, at competing for the conference title. If nothing else, the Buffaloes looked destined for their best-ever season in league play under 11th-year coach Tad Boyle. But after a surprising 71-62 loss against the Bears, it seems the Buffaloes may still be bumping their heads against the ceiling of mediocrity as they so often do. The Buffs were just one spot out of the AP poll this past Monday and looked destined to finally enter it for the first time this season until the ugly loss to a Bears team that entered on a seven-game losing streak. All of the sudden, playing conference powers Oregon, USC and UCLA in three of its final four scheduled regular season games appears a bit more daunting for this squad.


February 13th

CU enters into CBS’ Top 25 and 1

From CBS Sports … The USC Trojans received zero votes in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll. They were picked sixth in the Pac-12 preseason media poll (Yo, CBS – CU was picked 7th). They started 48th at KenPom. So, yeah, what’s happening now is definitely unexpected. But, regardless, the following is true: USC will enter the weekend alone atop the Pac-12 standings.

That’s the byproduct of Thursday’s 69-54 victory at Washington that improved the Trojans to 16-3 overall and 10-2 in the league. They held Mike Hopkins’ Huskies to 40.7% shooting and just 23 second-half points.

“Defensively, we were very good,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “I think you saw that midway through the first half and into the second half. We challenged every shot, made them shoot a low percentage. … I think [with] this team, it starts with the defensive end.”

USC is No. 16 in Friday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The only other Pac-12 school listed in the Top 25 And 1 is Colorado, which is No. 26 after winning 69-51 at Stanford on Thursday.

No. 16 … USC … USC is 5-2 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss coming at Oregon State. The Trojans’ five-game winning streak features victories over UCLA and Stanford.

No. 26 … Colorado … Colorado is 7-3 in the first two quadrants with two additional losses coming in Quadrant 3. The Buffaloes will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at Cal.


February 12th

ESPN: CU “has serious potential to spring an upset in the round of 32 against some overconfident No. 2 seed”

From ESPN … The Super Bowl’s in the books, Punxsutawney Phil either did or did not see his shadow (does anyone ever keep that straight?) and Valentine’s Day is approaching with unnerving speed. These early February rites can mean but one thing.

It’s high time to get down to business and watch that bubble. You’re here to find out which teams are going to make the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in a season in which teams are pausing, dropping off the radar and, collectively, playing fewer games. We’re here to help.

You’ll notice right away that Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State are nowhere to be found in Bubble Watch 2021. If this forecast turns out to be correct and we really do play an NCAA tournament without the Blue Devils, Wildcats and Spartans, it will mark the first time the three storied programs have gone simultaneously missing since 1976.

… If you happen to be new to bubble watching, welcome! Let us offer a suggestion that will make your next few weeks that much more enjoyable. Don’t fret if your team is showing up under “Should be in” instead of as a lock.

“Should be in” is in fact a winning euphemism for “Barring only the most spectacular collapse, this team will be in the tournament.” Starting this week and with rapidly gathering force over the next month, the entire population of “Should be in” will, with but a few exceptions, migrate inexorably into lock status. It is the circle of bubble life. Enjoy that ride.

Here’s our current projection of the bubble:

Pac-12 … 

Should be in

USC Trojans

For weeks the Trojans have climbed steadily higher in the mock brackets, and now Andy Enfield’s group is being shown as a potential No. 5 seed. Though tied with rival UCLA at 9-2 atop the Pac-12, USC has been the superior per-possession team to this point in conference play. Projected 2021 top-five pick Evan Mobley has lived up to his freshman billing as a versatile game-changer in the paint, and Southern Cal as a team has excelled on defense. The Pac-12 is converting less than 44% of its 2s against this front line.

Colorado Buffaloes

Tad Boyle’s offense is at or near the top of the Pac-12 in terms of both 3-point accuracy and turnover avoidance. The result, as one would imagine, is the best offense in the conference, one that’s ringing up 1.11 points per possession in Pac-12 play. McKinley Wright hits his 2s and finds Maddox Daniels, Jeriah Horne and D’Shawn Schwartz for open 3s. For a team that at this late date still isn’t appearing in the AP Top 25, a possible No. 7 seed like CU has serious potential to spring an upset in the round of 32 against some overconfident No. 2 seed.

UCLA Bruins

When last we checked in with the Bruins, they were coming off a tough 18-point loss at USC in which Cody Riley didn’t play because of an ankle injury. The good news for Mick Cronin is that the junior returned to action in his team’s road game at Washington State. The bad news, however, is that Riley fouled out after just 10 minutes of game time, as UCLA fell to the Cougars 81-73. The Bruins have lost two straight for the first time this season, and the projected No. 7 seed that had previously been earmarked for the team is looking increasingly tenuous.

Work to do

Oregon Ducks

Despite a respectable 11-4 record overall, it’s been a tough season in Eugene. While grappling with two separate pauses due to COVID-19 issues, Oregon suffered back-to-back losses at home to Oregon State and Washington State. As a result, the Ducks are clocking in around No. 55 or even No. 60 in the NET rankings. Perhaps it’s UO’s neutral-floor victory over Seton Hall that has kept Dana Altman’s team clinging to the No. 11 or 12 lines in the mock brackets. In any event, Chris Duarte returned from his ankle injury and scored 18 points in Oregon’s 75-64 win at Arizona State. Conference opponents are shooting a hair better than the Ducks from the field, but Altman’s team has compensated by forcing a high number of turnovers.

Stanford Cardinal

In its first game of the season, Stanford easily defeated Alabama 82-64 in a game played in Asheville, North Carolina. That win, along with an overtime victory in Santa Cruz against UCLA, goes a long way toward explaining why the Cardinal are shown on so many brackets as one of the very last teams in the field. Jerod Haase’s team, however, will need to improve on its most recent performance if it wants to hold on to that spot. Stanford was hammered at home 69-51 by Colorado, as the Buffaloes limited players not named Oscar da Silva to 11-of-31 shooting. Despite recording some of the league’s best 2-point shooting in Pac-12 play, the Cardinal offense suffers from a chronic lack of shot volume due in large part to an abundance of turnovers.


February 10th

kenpom and NET rankings keep CU in the Top 20 nationally

From Kenpom.com

The Pac-12 … 

  • No. 13 – USC
  • No. 14 – Colorado 
  • No. 35 – UCLA
  • No. 36 – Arizona
  • No. 39 – Oregon
  • No. 49 – Stanford
  • No. 67 – Utah
  • No. 79 – Arizona State
  • No. 114 – Washington State
  • No. 120 – Oregon State
  • No. 146 – California
  • No. 164 – Washington

NET Rankings … from NCAA.com

  • No. 15 – Colorado
  • No. 16 – USC
  • No. 38 – UCLA
  • No. 44 – Arizona
  • No. 58 – Stanford
  • No. 59 – Oregon
  • No. 81 – Utah
  • No. 112 – Washington State
  • No. 116 – Arizona State
  • No. 134 – Oregon State
  • No. 177 – California
  • No. 202 – Washington


February 9th

Tuesday Bracketology: CU v. CSU in the Big Dance?

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Friday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … USC … up one spot
  • No. 8 seed … UCLA … down two spots
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … no change (v. No. 8 CSU) 
  • No. 11 seed … Oregon … no change
  • First Four Out … Stanford … down from a No. 12 seed (Last Four in)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 4  seed … USC … up two spots
  • No. 7 seed … Colorado … no change (v. No. 10 Indiana)
  • No. 7 seed … UCLA … down one spot
  • No. 11 seed  … Stanford … up one spot (Last Four in)
  • No. 12 seed … Oregon … down two spots (Last Four in)

ESPN Preseason SP+ Rankings: CU 50th

From ESPN … The 2020 college football season might have been the oddest we’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean my offseason calendar has to change! Last week, I shared my returning production rankings for 2021, and now that the 2020-21 recruiting cycle is (mostly) complete, it’s time to share my annual SP+ projections.

As a reminder, I base these projections based on three primary factors, weighted by their predictiveness:

1. Returning production. As I wrote last week, I have updated rosters as much as possible to account for transfers, graduation, and the announced return of many 2020 seniors. The combination of last year’s SP+ ratings and adjustments based on returning production now make up more than two-thirds of the projections formula.

2. Recent recruiting. Returning production aims to tell us what kind of talent and experience a team is returning. Recruiting rankings inform us of the caliber of the team’s potential replacements (and/or new stars) in the lineup. They make up about one-quarter of the projections formula. This piece is determined not only by the most recent recruiting class but also, in diminishing fashion, the last three classes as well.

3. Recent history. Last year’s ratings are a huge piece of the puzzle, but using a sliver of information from previous seasons (two to four years ago) gives us a good way of measuring overall program health. It stands to reason that a team that has played well for one year is less likely to duplicate that effort than a team that has been good for years on end (and vice versa), right? This is a minor piece of the puzzle, but the projections are better with it than without.

A reminder on SP+: It’s a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. I created the system at Football Outsiders in 2008, and as my experience with both college football and its stats has grown, I have made quite a few tweaks to the system.

SP+ is intended to be predictive and forward-facing. That is important to remember. It is not a résumé ranking that gives credit for big wins or particularly brave scheduling — no good predictive system is. It is simply a measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • 5th … Oregon
  • 11th … Washington
  • 13th … Texas A&M
  • 17th … USC
  • 18th … Arizona State
  • 19th … Utah
  • 21st … UCLA
  • 31st … Minnesota
  • 46th … Washington State
  • 50th … Colorado 
  • 54th … California
  • 59th … Michigan State
  • 60th … Oregon State
  • 68th … Stanford
  • 92nd … Arizona
  • 96th … Colorado State

Read full story here


February 8th

CU one good week from national ranking: Buffs at No. 26 in this week’s Associated Press poll (No. 32 in Coaches’ poll)

From CBS Sports … For the first time since Feb. 2, 2009, Kansas was excluded from the AP Top 25 college basketball rankings Monday, snapping a record-setting 231 consecutive appearances in the poll. The Jayhawks (12-7, 6-5 Big 12) went 1-1 on the week with a 91-79 road loss to West Virginia on Saturday overshadowing a 23-point win over rival Kansas State earlier in the week.

Kansas’ fall from the rankings highlights what has been an extraordinarily unusual season for college basketball’s blueblood programs. Monday marks the first time since Dec. 18, 1961 that UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas are all unranked. In Jerry Palm’s updated Bracketology, he’s projecting only three of those five will make the Big Dance, and one of those is flirting with the bubble.

The top of the AP poll held steady once again at the top with Gonzaga and Baylor coming in at Nos. 1 and 2, but there was significant shuffling inside the top 10. Michigan moved up one spot to No. 3, Ohio State leapt from No. 7 to No. 4 and Villanova dropped two spots to No. 5 following its stunning loss to St. John’s.

No. 6 Illinois, No. 7 Texas Tech, No. 9 Virginia and No. 10 Missouri all moved into the top 10. Mizzou was the biggest mover in the poll, jumping from No. 18 to No. 10.

1Gonzaga (55)18-01,5671
2Baylor (8)17-01,5202
4Ohio State15-41,3657
7Texas Tech14-51,10213
14West Virginia13-582417
17Florida State10-351420
18Virginia Tech14-448616
22Loyola Chicago0-0200NR
23Oklahoma State12-5181NR

Others receiving votesColorado 41, San Diego St. 38, Xavier 37, UCLA 35, Florida 29, Louisville 28, Belmont 25, Kansas 18, Drake 16, Minnesota 12, North Carolina 8, St. John’s 7, Toledo 6, Clemson 6, Arkansas 3, Boise St. 3, Saint Louis 2, UAB 1, VCU 1, BYU 1

USA Today/Coaches’ Poll – Buffs in at No. 32

5Ohio State15-46479
8Texas Tech14-553311
14West Virginia13-538918
17Virginia Tech14-430416
19Florida State10-330019
22Oklahoma State12-510024

Others receiving votes: Florida 43; Louisville 38; Rutgers 30; Kansas 30; Drake 23; San Diego State 18; Colorado 15; Oregon 14; Belmont 13; Minnesota 12; Xavier 10; UAB 6; Utah State 5; Clemson 5; Louisiana State 4; Winthrop 3; Seton Hall 3; Arkansas 3; Toledo 1; Saint Louis 1.


February 7th

TeamRankings.com: Buffs at 97.2% chance of making the NCAA Tournament

From TeamRankings.com

Colorado tournament projections … 

  • Chances of making the tournament: 97.2% … up from 93.8% last week
  • Chances of an automatic bid: 25.1% … up from 24.6% last week
  • Chances of an at-large bid: 72.1% … up from 69.2% last week
  • Most likely seed: No. 5 (15.0%) … up from No. 7 seed last week
  • Chances at a Final Four: 5.5% … up from 4.8% last week
  • Chances of winning national championship: 0.7% … up from 0.6% last week


February 5th

Friday Bracketology update – Stanford’s position precarious

Pac-12 upsets continued Thursday, with Arizona falling at Utah, 73-58, while Oregon lost at home to Washington State, 74-71

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Tuesday’s bracketology)

  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 8 seed … USC … no change
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 11 seed … Oregon … down one spot
  • No. 12 seed … Stanford … (Last four in)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 6  seed … USC … up one spot
  • No. 7 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … no change
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in)


February 3rd

USC; Oregon big winners on Signing Day II

… On a day when CU signed exactly zero new recruits … 

From ESPN … There were only 20 ESPN 300 recruits left uncommitted or unsigned in college football’s February signing period, so there wasn’t a big opportunity for many teams to make a big splash in the recruiting class rankings.

That doesn’t mean teams didn’t add some big names and fill big holes, though, as there were three top-50 recruits who announced a commitment, a few flips and some late battles that helped shape these classes.

Alabama finished with the No. 1 overall class, and it’s obvious the Crimson Tide were winners in both the early signing period and this February signing period. The staff was able to hang on to ESPN 300 running back Camar Wheaton and added ESPN 300 safety Terrion Arnold as well.

Outside of Alabama, there were some other big names who made commitments and helped finish off recruiting classes. To help recap the day, here is a look at which teams won this signing period and added to their recruiting hauls in this 2021 cycle.

USC Trojans

The Trojans had the No. 54-ranked class in the 2020 cycle, but moved all the way up to No. 8 in 2021. The staff had already done an excellent job closing with five-star defensive end Korey Foreman, the top in-state prospect, and landing two ESPN 300 quarterbacks in Miller Moss and Jaxson Dart.

In this February signing period, the coaches were once again able to keep a top in-state recruit at home by landing ESPN 300 linebacker Raesjon Davis. He is the No. 46-ranked recruit overall and was one of only four uncommitted prospects in the top 50 entering Wednesday.

USC was battling with LSU, Ohio State and Oregon for Davis, so to land a recruit of his caliber over that list is a big statement about the confidence some of the top recruits have in USC right now.

It was only one commitment in this signing period, but it was a big one and an important one to keep momentum moving forward in USC’s journey to take back the West.

Oregon Ducks …

The Ducks were already recruiting at a high level under coach Mario Cristobal, but the 2021 class has been his best yet.

Oregon, similar to USC, pulled in a commitment from a top-50 recruit on Wednesday with cornerback Avante Dickerson, ranked No. 49 overall. Dickerson had decommitted from Minnesota after the early signing period, and despite being from Omaha, Nebraska, ended up picking the Ducks.

He became the highest-ranked commit in the class and gave the coaches 16 ESPN 300 commitments, the most Oregon has ever had in one class since ESPN started the ESPN 300 in 2013.

Dickerson is the second ESPN 300 corner for the Ducks, along with Jaylin Davies, and gives Oregon the No. 2-ranked cornerback in each of the past three classes. The staff is building an excellent foundation on defense and already has some talented players on the roster.

Adding Dickerson was icing on the cake in what will likely end up as a top-five class for Cristobal and his coaches.

Read full list here (which includes Michigan, mentioning the Wolverines stealing defensive tackles from CU and Michigan State) …

West Coast Football Ranks the Pac-12: CU in at No. 9

From WestCoastFootball.com … Which Pac-12 Program is the early projected favorite?

  1. Oregon … The Ducks are coming off two straight Pac-12 Titles and it’s really just the beginning of the Duck Dynasty under Cristobal (even though the Ducks didn’t even win their own division). Oregon has had the #1 recruiting class in the conference for 3 straight years and Oregon returns the 9th most production in the nation next season. The Ducks were young in 2020 and the increased experience for their young talented roster should lead to a 3rd straight conference title.
  2. Washington
  3. Arizona State … ASU, Utah and USC are all very equal entering 2021. Any of the 3 could win the South but we give a slight edge to the Sun Devils for how they ended the 2020 season in dominant fashion (by beating up on an Arizona team which had folded its tents?). ASU led the Pac-12 in scoring offense at 40.3 PPG and also led the conference in scoring defense. The Sun Devils boast a top tier QB in Jayden Daniels and an outstanding rushing attack with Rachaad White (10 Yards Per Carry) and Chip Trayanum (5.92 YPC). The non-conference schedule for ASU should be relatively easy with games against Southern Utah, UNLV and a rebuilding BYU squad. The toughest tests will be a home game against USC and then road games in Seattle and Salt Lake City.
  4. USC
  5. Utah
  6. UCLA … UCLA made major strides in Chip Kelly’s 3rd season with a high flying offense that scored at will (and went 3-4?). The Bruins are beginning to feel more like the Chip Kelly Oregon teams but the defense is still a liability. UCLA has the 2nd most returning production in the nation and should be able to win 6-8 games but they still aren’t yet in a place to contend for the Pac-12 South Title.
  7. Cal
  8. Stanford
  9. Colorado … Colorado was the surprise team in the Pac-12 this past season as they surged to a 4-2 record in year 1 under Karl Dorrell. The Buffs have a star running back in Jarek Broussard to lead the offense and have Carson Wells and Nate Landman to lead the defense. The Buffs will likely be in the 5-6 win range but that is due to how strong the Pac-12 is projected to be next year and not an indictment on Colorado. In many years, a Colorado team this strong could have been capable of winning 7-8 games.
  10. Washington State
  11. Oregon State
  12. Arizona


February 2nd 

Tuesday Bracketology update – Buffs sliding (but not that far)

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since last Friday’s bracketology)

  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 8 seed … USC … no change
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … down one spot
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … down two spots
  • No. 12 seed … Stanford … (Last four in) … down two spots

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … down one spot
  • No. 7 seed … Colorado … down one spot
  • No. 7  seed … USC … down one spot
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … down two spots
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … no change)


February 1st

Buffs fall to t-36th in AP poll; t-33rd in USA Today/Coaches poll

From ESPN … Baylor has overshadowed nearly everything in the Big 12 this season as it tries to complete an undefeated season.

Oklahoma has been making a statement of its own.

With a win over then-No. 9 Alabama on Saturday, the Sooners became just the second team in 25 years to beat three straight top-10 opponents. Oklahoma also is the first team since 1974 to beat four top-10 teams in the same month.

The Sooners’ run led to a big jump in this week’s Associated Press men’s basketball poll. Oklahoma moved up 15 spots to No. 9 in the Top 25 released Monday, its highest ranking since reaching No. 4 in 2017-18.

“Any time you can win a game like that is big from a resume standpoint, big from a confidence standpoint, momentum,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said after the 66-61 win over the Crimson Tide. “It’s continuing to move in the right direction. Those wins, you never take those for granted.”

Oklahoma had to replace leading scorer and rebounder Kristian Doolittle this season and was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll.

Continue reading story here

Associated Press … 

1. Gonzaga (61)
2. Baylor (3)
3. Villanova
4. Michigan
5. Houston
6. Texas
7. Ohio St.
8. Iowa
9. Oklahoma
10. Alabama
11. Tennessee
12. Illinois
13. Texas Tech
14. Virginia
15. Creighton
16. Virginia Tech
17. West Virginia
18. Missouri
19. Wisconsin
20. Florida St.
21. UCLA
22. Florida
23. Kansas
24. Purdue
25. Drake

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma State 111, USC 57, Loyola Chicago 52, Minnesota 42, Xavier 25, Boise State 23, St. Bonaventure 19, Belmont 11, Saint Louis 11, Toledo 9, Oregon 8, Colorado 8, San Diego State 6, UConn 5, Louisville 4, North Carolina 3, Georgia Tech 2, Rutgers 1

USA Today Coaches poll “Others” (UCLA ranked 21st) … 

Others receiving votes: Minnesota 66, Purdue 59, USC 44, Loyola Chicago 43, Oregon 39, Louisville 26, Xavier 9, St. Bonaventure 8, Colorado 8, Boise State 7, LSU 6, San Diego State 5, Toledo 3, Belmont 3, Rutgers 2, North Carolina 2, Winthrop 1, Saint Louis 1, Georgia Tech 1



January 31st

College Football News Preseason Pac-12 Rankings – A surprise No. 1 in the Pac-12 South

From College Football News … The pre-spring version of the CFN 2021 rankings with a first look at all the Pac-12 teams.

Pac-12 North … 

  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Stanford
  • Cal
  • Oregon State
  • Washington State

Pac-12 South … 

  • 1. Utah Utes

Why To Be Happy: All of a sudden, the quarterback situation is interesting with Baylor veteran Charlie Brewer coming in with a shot to take over right away. With the return of Nick Ford and Orlando Umana, all five starters are expected to return on the offensive front. The D line is deeper – and very big –  LB Devin Lloyd coming back is huge, and all four starters should be back in the secondary.

What To Work On: The defense has to go back to form. It was okay in 2020, but it wasn’t the killer of the previous two seasons that helped lead the way to Pac-12 Championship appearances. There’s a whole lot of experience returning, but now the line has to rock again, the pass rush has to be great, and …

Bottom Line: The Utes will be more than fine on the lines. Throw in the addition of a high-level starter in Brewer to go along with the power up front, and all the makings are there for a run to a third Pac-12 title game in four years.

  • USC
  • Arizona State
  • UCLA
  • Colorado …Why To Be Happy: This was a young team that returns a whole slew of key parts, starting with star RB Jarek Broussard behind four veteran offensive linemen. DT Mustafa Johnson is off to the NFL, but LB Nate Landman is back for a defense loaded with experience.What To Work On: The passing game has to be more efficient and a whole lot stronger. WR KD Nixon is off to USC, but Tennessee transfer JT Shrout is coming in to battle with better Sam Noyer to do more to take the head off of Broussard.Bottom Line: This was one of the bigger surprises of 2020 in Karl Dorrell’s first year, and the experience is there to potentially be even better. However, remember, the Buffs didn’t play USC, Oregon, or Arizona State and lost to Utah by 17.
  • Arizona

TeamRankings.com: Buffs still at 93.8% chance of making the NCAA Tournament

From TeamRankings.com

Colorado tournament projections … 

  • Chances of making the tournament: 93.8% … down from 97.7% last week
  • Chances of an automatic bid: 24.6% … down from 28.3% last week
  • Chances of an at-large bid: 69.2% … down from 69.5% last week
  • Most likely seed: No. 7 (13.1%) … down from No. 5 seed last week
  • Chances at a Final Four: 4.8% … down from 6.5% last week
  • Chances of winning national championship: 0.6% … down from 1.0% last week


January 30th

Pac-12 Early Look: Quarterback Rankings

… Would you expect to find CU anywhere other than in the bottom tier? … 

From the San Jose Mercury News … For those unfamiliar with the Quarterback Comfort Quotient, our periodic offseason examination of depth charts across the Pac-12, it’s based on the following premise:

The backup quarterback is the least important player on the roster … until he’s the most important.

As a result, the QBCQ ranking below assesses the quality of the starters and the proven reliability of the backups.

After scouring rosters, we can report the ideal combination does not currently exist.

That could change in coming months as seniors make stay-or-go decisions and the transfer portal works its magic. (We’ll revisit the QBCQ following spring practice, then again at the close of training camp.)


— Not all returnees have been listed

— Where incoming transfers are named, I have included their former team.

— Pac-12 players who have entered the portal are (for now) considered departures.

10. Colorado
Who’s gone: Tyler Lytle
Who’s back: Sam Noyer, Brendon Lewis
Who’s new: J.T. Shrout (Tennessee), Drew Carter (freshman)
Projected starter: Lewis
Comment: CU owns the only situation in which three outcomes are equally possible: Noyer started last season but struggled late; Lewis is young but impressed in the Alamo Bowl; and Shrout has meaningful SEC experience (plus three years of eligibility). Our hunch is Lewis wins the job: More upside than Noyer, better feel for the system than Shrout.

Read full list here


January 29th

Friday Bracketology update

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Tuesday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 8 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 8 seed … USC … no change
  • No. 10 seed … Oregon … down two spots
  • No. 10 seed … Stanford … no change

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 6  seed … USC … no change
  • No. 8 seed … Oregon … no change
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … no change)


January 28th

ESPN Ranks 130 teams in ten tiers (Guess where CU fits in)

From ESPN … There’s no more ubiquitous measure of “good” in college sports than the top-25 college football poll, and yet, it’s entirely arbitrary.

Entering the College Football Playoff, Ohio State was ranked one spot ahead of Notre Dame, which was one spot ahead of Texas A&M. But the margin between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish was obviously much wider than that of the Irish and Aggies.

And why do we cut off our rankings at 25? Is the 25th-ranked team good and No. 26 not? Over the past five seasons, teams ranked 21 through 25 are just 48-56 against unranked opponents with a winning record.

So what’s the solution?

To quote the great philosopher Cosmo Kramer: “Levels.” Or, to use a more sports-specific term, tiers.

Instead of a preseason top 25, we’re giving you a look at all 130 FBS teams broken down by tier — from the group of playoff favorites to those awaiting their next participation trophy.

Now, a lot can happen between January and September, so this is hardly an exact science, but we think it’ll get us a little closer to identifying who’s good, who’s not, who’s trending up and who’s headed in the wrong direction.

From the Pac-12 … 

Tier 1: Championship favorites – none

Tier 2: Knocking on the door – Oregon (and Texas A&M)

Tier 3: Teams we’ll spend a lot of time making a case for who won’t actually make the playoff – USC; Washington

Tier 4: High ceiling, low floor – Arizona State; UCLA

Tier 5: High floor, low ceiling – Utah

Tier 6: Let’s get nuts – none (Nebraska)

Tier 7: The résumé-builders

Air Force, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Ball State, Baylor, Boston College, Buffalo, BYU, Cal, Colorado, Houston, Kansas State, Kent State, Liberty, Louisiana, Marshall, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon State, Pitt, San Diego State, San Jose State, SMU, Stanford, Tulane, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

We all know a great win when we see one. Two top-10 teams face off, one emerges a victor, and we’ve got ourselves a clear playoff contender. But those games actually are pretty rare. Last season, we had just nine regular-season games between top-15 teams, with only Alabama playing in more than one. In 2019, there were just 17 such games and only five teams (including all four that made the playoff) won more than one of them. That’s why this tier of teams is so important. They’re the solid C-plus students. These teams can help us split hairs between the elites.

It’s a mistake to use “top-25 wins” on a playoff team’s résumé because how much better is a win over No. 24 than one against No. 28? Identifying teams outside the top 25 that offer some measure of talent, coaching, star power or experience is critical because, while they’re unlikely to make a run at the playoff, they provide real challenges to the teams that will. While Clemson, Oregon or Oklahoma might face just one other elite opponent in 2021, a steady diet of “not half-bad teams” offers its own challenges, too.

Will anyone in this group make a push for something more? Odds are, at least one will. Who saw Coastal Carolina coming last year? Or Minnesota in 2019? Or Washington State in 2018? You might want to argue for Liberty, though the Flames’ 4-1 record in one-score games offers concern. They also were the only team in the playoff era to finish in the AP top 20 with an FPI ranking worse than 70th. Perhaps better cases can be made for App State (No. 26 in SP+), Virginia Tech (No. 28) or Minnesota (No. 34). And then there’s BYU. The Cougars certainly weren’t a one-man team in 2020, but the headline act from Zach Wilson was so impressive that it’s hard to see this team repeating the performance with a new QB in 2021.

Somewhere in this mix are one or two legitimate top-20 programs and the rest likely provide cannon fodder for the elite teams looking to pad their résumés. In short, after we get past the truly interesting teams, this tier represents the rest of the top half of college football.

Tier 8: ‘You’re Not Going to Get Us to Say Anything Bad About Army’ – Washington State

Tier 9: Yikes – Arizona 

Tier 10: UConn and Kansas

Read full story here


January 26th

Bracketology update: ESPN seeding Pac-12 teams higher than CBS

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Friday’s bracketology)

  • No. 7 seed … UCLA … down one spot
  • No. 8 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 8 seed … Oregon … down one spot
  • No. 8 seed … USC … no change
  • No. 10 seed … Stanford … up one spot (up from Last Four in)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … no change
  • No. 6  seed … USC … no change
  • No. 8 seed … Oregon … down two spots
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … no change)


January 25th

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Buffs in at No. 2 behind UCLA

From the San Jose Mercury News … As the stretch run approaches, the Pac-12 appears well positioned to collect a reasonable number of bids to the NCAA tournament.

At least by its standards.

Based on the current NET rankings, the primary tool used to select the at-large field, three teams are on secure ground and two more are on the bubble.

Unfortunately, there are no relevant comparisons from last year, because there was no tournament.

But the Hotline unearthed the NET rankings from Selection Sunday in 2019 to provide a framework with which to assess the Pac-12’s prospects this March.

The lowest-seeded at-large teams in ’19 were easy to identify, thanks to their participation in the First Four.

No. 47 Belmont
No. 56 Temple
No. 63 Arizona State
No. 73 St. John’s

The average NET ranking for the quartet is 60, so we’ll use that as the baseline:

Any Pac-12 team with a NET ranking of 60 or better on Selection Sunday seemingly will stand a reasonable chance of making the at-large field.

Currently, there are five in the top 60.

(Note: We have not included Arizona, which is No. 32 but ineligible for the NCAAs.)

No. 16 Colorado
No. 24 USC
No. 34 UCLA
No. 46 Oregon
No. 59 Stanford

Five bids (one automatic and four at-large) would constitute a significant improvement for the conference, which sent just three teams to the NCAAs in 2018 and 2019.

But if one of five falters, there is no backup plan.

The conference doesn’t have another team in the top 100, suggesting there’s little chance any team outside the quintet can qualify for the at-large field.

To collect a sixth bid, the Pac-12 likely will need an upset winner in Las Vegas.

1. UCLA (12-3/8-1)
Last week: 1
Results: Won at Cal 61-57, lost at Stanford 73-72 (OT)
Next up: vs. Oregon (Thursday)
Comment: The stumble was fairly easy to see coming: UCLA played a taxing game Thursday in Berkeley, Stanford had a week off (because of the USC postponement), and the Bruins were due for a narrow loss after so many close wins.

2. Colorado (12-4/6-3)
Last week: 2
Results: Lost at Washington 84-80, beat Washington State 70-59
Next up: vs. Washington State (Wednesday)
Comment: Based on the disparate performances, it appears that CU’s defense was booked on a direct flight from Boulder to Pullman and never made it to Seattle.

Continue reading story here


January 24th

College Football News Final Rankings: CU up 29 spots from preseason

From College Football News … And here they are – the final college football rankings for the 2020 season.

We always try to take into account the entirety of the campaign with Week 1 meaning as much to the overall equation as a late season win … sort of.

Of course it makes a difference if teams – like Oklahoma – are far better as the season goes on, but results have to matter or there’s no reason to play the games. If you’re wondering why your team is where it is, look at who it lost to and/or beat.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 100 … Colorado State … Preseason: 86
  • No. 90 … Arizona … Preseason: 37
  • No. 76 … Washington State … Preseason: 46
  • No. 72 … California … Preseason: 38
  • No. 55 … Nebraska … Preseason: 47
  • No. 54 … Michigan State … Preseason: 40
  • No. 51 … Oregon State … Preseason: 54
  • No. 35 … Arizona State … Preseason: 64
  • No. 32 … UCLA … Preseason: 18
  • No. 31 … Stanford … Preseason: 35
  • No. 30 … Colorado … Preseason: 59 … Best Win: at Stanford 35-32
    Worst Loss: Utah 38-21 … Why Ranked Here? The Buffaloes might have lost to Utah in the Pac-12 finale, and they were outclassed by Texas in the Alamo Bowl, but the four wins to start the season were enough to get the Karl Dorrell era up and rolling.
  • No. 28 … Oregon … Preseason: 9
  • No. 27 … Utah … Preseason: 26
  • No. 26 … Washington … Preseason: 21
  • No. 24 … USC … Preseason: 13

Bracketology: Adding two more lists 

From TeamRankings.com

Colorado tournament projections … 

  • Chances of making the tournament: 97.7% … down from 99.4% last week
  • Chances of an automatic bid: 28.3% … down from 30.8% last week
  • Chances of an at-large bid: 69.5% … up from 68.5% last week
  • Most likely seed: No. 5 (15.2%) … down from No. 4 seed last week
  • Chances at a Final Four: 6.5% … down from 9.3% last week
  • Chances of winning national championship: 1.0% … down from 1.7% last week

From BloggingtheBracket.com

  • No. 5 seed – Colorado
  • No. 5 seed – UCLA
  • No. 8 seed – Oregon
  • No. 8 seed – USC
  • Last Four Out – Stanford (before the Cardinal defeated UCLA Saturday)


January 22nd

Bracketology: Loss to Washington not fatal to CU’s tournament chances

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … (Changes since Tuesday’s bracketology)

  • No. 8 seed … Colorado … down two spots
  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … no change
  • No. 8 seed … USC … no change
  • No. 11 seed … Stanford … no change (Last Four in)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … UCLA … no change
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … down one spot
  • No. 6  seed … USC … no change
  • No. 6 seed … Oregon … up one spot
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … no change)

January 20th

Early 2021 Pac-12 Rankings (CU gets no love) 

… This is what is going to be like this all off-season, Buff fans, so we may as well get used to it. CU was picked to finish 5th in 2020, goes 4-2 and finishes second in the division. As a reward for having the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the Offensive Player of the Year, Colorado will, in 2021, be picked to finish … 5th … 

From Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News … Seven months from the start of the 2021 season, we’re calling our shot: The South will be the superior, and perhaps even the dominant division next season.

Whether or not it produces the eventual Pac-12 champion — and history suggests it will not — the South will produce more good teams, win more head-to-head matchups and collect more bowl bids than the North.

Our initial canvassing of 2021 depth charts suggests five teams capable of contending for the South title but only two capable of winning the North.

And neither of those favorites looks particularly dominant.

Put another way, we expect the conference to be well stocked with top-25 teams but devoid of top-four teams.

Let’s plunge into the Hotline’s (early) projections for the conference race.

Pac-12 North … 

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Cal
  4. Washington State
  5. Stanford
  6. Oregon State

Pac-12 South …

  1. Arizona State
  2. USC
  3. Utah
  4. UCLA
  5. Colorado: This projection will no doubt generate pushback from CU fans, whose team is fresh off a better-than-expected second-place finish. But winning three out of four in a pandemic season doesn’t, in our view, equate to an equivalent performance over a full season. The Buffaloes possess a superb young tailback in Jarek Broussard but have a looming quarterback competition, holes to fill on defense and challenges on the lines of scrimmage within a division that’s well stocked with physical, veteran units.
  6. Arizona

Read full story here

… But, wait! There’s more! … 

From Jack Follman at SportsPac-12.com … With most of the 2021 NFL Draft early entries out of the way, and a clearer picture of which seniors might return for their extra year, I think it’s time to look at how the power rankings in the Pac-12 might line up going into 2021. Here’s a very, very, very early look.

Pac-12 rankings (with 2020 records):

  1. Oregon (4-3)
  2. Washington (4-1)
  3. USC (5-1)
  4. UCLA (3-4)
  5. Utah (3-2)
  6. Arizona State (2-2)
  7. Stanford (4-2)
  8. Oregon State (2-5)
  9. California (1-3)
  10. Colorado (4-2) … I respect Karl Dorrell and Colorado a lot for winning almost every game that was in front of them in 2020, but I think they are more the team that lost to Utah by 17, and got pasted by a very limited Texas team, than the one that beat Stanford and UCLA. There’s still a lot to like in Boulder, though, and I think they can build on the success they had in the 2020 season and compete for a bowl game.
  11. Washington State (1-3)
  12. Arizona (0-5)



January 19th

Bracketology: Buffs up to a No. 5 seed at ESPN; No. 6 at CBS Sports

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … up three spots 
  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 7 seed … Oregon … down two spots
  • No. 7 seed … USC … up two spots
  • No. 11 seed … Stanford … down four spots (Last Four in)

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Colorado … up one spot
  • No. 5 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 6  seed … USC … up two spots
  • No. 6 seed … Oregon … down one spot
  • No. 12 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … down one spot)


January 18th

CU enters Coaches’ poll at No. 23; still outside of AP poll (No. 27)

From CBS Sports … On the strength of two quality wins in conference play this week, both Alabama and Ohio State jumped eight spots in the latest Coaches Poll released on Monday. The Crimson Tide rose from No. 24 to No. 16 after crushing Kentucky at Ruppa Arena then beating Arkansas at home in similarly dominant fashion. The Buckeyes went from unranked in the poll to No. 18 after beating Northwestern at home then claiming a signature win over Illinois.

Ohio State was one of three teams to join the poll this week after being unranked last week. Colorado and Florida State also cracked the poll, at No. 23 and No. 25, respectively. The Buffaloes extended their winning streak to four games after wins over Cal and Stanford this week, and FSU claimed wins over NC State and North Carolina in consecutive games to join the poll.

As for the top of the rankings, Gonzaga held steady at No. 1 once again, earning 28 of a possible 31 first-place votes, while Baylor garnered the remaining three first-place votes and stayed at No. 2. Villanova also stayed at No. 3, while Iowa leapt four spots to No. 4 and Texas fell to No. 5. Rounding out the top 10 this week is No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Houston, No. 9 Kansas and No. 10 Wisconsin.

USA Today/Coaches Poll … 

13Texas Tech11-432715
14Virginia Tech11-227420
15West Virginia9-427214
18Ohio State11-3234NR
25Florida State7-285NR

Others receiving votes: Louisville 84; Connecticut 82; Saint Louis 66; USC 58; Oklahoma State 53; Duke 36; Boise State 28; Drake 20; Xavier 16; LSU 14; Richmond 9; Michigan St 4; San Diego St. 3; Toledo 2; Belmont 2; Tulsa 1; Rutgers 1.

From CBS Sports … Duke for the first time in nearly five years is unranked in the latest AP Top 25, which was released Monday. The Blue Devils fell from No. 19 in last week’s poll to out of the rankings entirely after falling to Virginia Tech 74-67 on Tuesday, dropping them to 5-3 on the season. It’s the first time they have not been ranked in the AP Poll since Feb. 2016.

Duke’s drop was part of a rough week for the ACC on the whole. Not only did the Blue Devils drop out, but so too did Louisville after it fell to Miami on the road on Saturday. Meanwhile, Virginia, after beating Clemson in a historically dominant performance, advanced five spots up the poll from No. 18 to No. 13, and Virginia Tech jumped four spots from No. 20 to No. 16. Clemson stayed in the poll but fell eight spots to No. 20.

Meanwhile at the very top, the top three ranked teams of Gonzaga, Baylor and Villanova remained unchanged again this week. The Bulldogs pulled in 62 of a possible 64 first-place votes, with Baylor fetching the remaining two. Rounding out the top five, Iowa and Texas stayed inside the top five but flip-flopped positions, with the Hawkeyes jumping up one spot to No. 4 and the Longhorns dropping a spot to No. 5.

Associated Press Top 25 … 

1Gonzaga (62)14-01,5981
2Baylor (2)12-01,5382
12Texas Tech11-479215
14West Virginia9-473213
15Ohio State11-363121
16Virginia Tech11-253620
25Saint Louis7-117224

Others receiving votes: Louisville 155, Colorado 148, Oklahoma State 119, Florida State 112, USC 74, Duke 43, Drake 42, LSU 20, Boise State 15, Xavier 7, Belmont 5, Michigan State 3, Winthrop 3, Toledo 2, Utah State 1, Purdue 1.


January 17th

CBS Final 2020 1-127 rankings: CU in at No. 30 (No. 3 in the Pac-12)

From CBS Sports … So it comes as no surprise that Alabama finishes as the No. 1 team in our CBS Sports 127, the comprehensive ranking of all FBS teams that played this season, with Ohio State checking in at No. 2, Clemson at No. 3 and Notre Dame at No. 4. With all the bowls in the books as a final data point for many teams, there was consistent support for Oklahoma’s strong finish with a two-spot bump up to No. 5 and a late boost for Georgia to No. 7 thanks to handing Cincinnati, now at No. 8, its first loss of the season in the Peach Bowl.

Teams outside the Power Five saw some of the biggest boosts in the final balloting of the year, likely a reflection of impressive performances in the postseason. Liberty jumped up eight spots to No. 18 after taking out Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl, Ball State moved up nearly two dozen spots after winning the Arizona Bowl against San Jose State, and Buffalo — after falling in the rankings following its MAC title game loss to Ball State — popped back up in the top 25 after winning the Camelia Bowl against Marshall. For the biggest adjustments not just at the top of the rankings but throughout the CBS Sports 127, check out the Mover’s Report below.

The final standing among conferences shows how the unique season opened the door for more teams to shine on a national level. The top 25 spots of the CBS Sports 127 have been known to be dominated but one conference but the dispersion is as even as its been in recent years with exactly four teams each from the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 — and two teams each from the Sun Belt, MAC and independents. The AAC and Mountain West are represented as well, and the only outlier is having just one Pac-12 team in the top 25 and that team — USC and No. 19 — did not even play in a bowl game.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 19 … USC
  • No. 27 … Utah
  • No. 30 … Colorado
  • No. 31 … Oregon
  • No. 32 … Washington
  • No. 42 … Arizona State
  • No. 43 … Stanford
  • No. 49 … UCLA
  • No. 63 … Oregon State
  • No. 73 … California
  • No. 78 … Nebraska 
  • No. 81 … Washington State
  • No. 90 … Michigan State 
  • No. 110 … Colorado State
  • No. 112 … Arizona

Buffs continue all-time best rise in NET Rankings (up to No. 7 nationally)

What are NET Rankings? The NET rankings are a sorting tool the NCAA will use to evaluate teams in contention for at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament.

The rankings rely on five factors — team value index, net efficiency, winning percentage, adjusted win percentage and scoring margin.

Colorado is up to No. 7 in the nation in the NET Rankings, believed to be CU’s highest-ever ranking.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 7 … Colorado 
  • No. 18 … USC
  • No. 27 … Oregon
  • No. 29 … UCLA
  • No. 30 … Arizona
  • No. 62 … Stanford
  • No. 106 … Utah
  • No. 113 … Washington State
  • No. 125 … Arizona State
  • No. 186 … California
  • No. 213 … Oregon State
  • No. 249 … Washington


January 13th 

Bracketology: Buffs up to a No. 6 seed at ESPN

From CBS Sports … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Oregon … down one spot
  • No. 7 seed … Stanford … unchanged
  • No. 7 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 9 seed … Colorado … up two spots 
  • No. 9 seed … USC … previously outside the bracket

From ESPN … Pac-12 … 

  • No. 5 seed … Oregon … unchanged
  • No. 6 seed … Colorado … up one spot
  • No. 6 seed … UCLA … up one spot
  • No. 8  seed … USC … up two spots
  • No. 11 seed  … Stanford … (Last Four in … up from First Four Out)

Boyle’s Buffs in CBS Top 25 (No. 24) 

From CBS Sports … Michigan was picked sixth in the Big Ten preseason poll — behind Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Rutgers. The Wolverines received zero first-place votes. But now here we are, eight weeks into this unusual season, and Juwan Howard’s program has established itself as a legitimate national title contender.

The latest impressive performance came Tuesday night, when the Wolverines pounded Wisconsin, 77-54, thanks in part to a great performance from Franz Wagner, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Michigan is now 11-0 overall and 6-0  in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are destroying basically everybody.

Michigan moving up to No. 3 resulted in Villanova and Texas getting pushed down one spot each, no fault of their own. The Wolverines’ next scheduled game is Saturday at Minnesota.

From the Pac-12 … 

No. 20 … Oregon … Oregon improved to 4-1 in the Pac-12 via Saturday’s 79-73 victory at Utah. The Ducks’ resume also includes wins over Stanford and Seton Hall.

No. 22 … UCLA … UCLA’s resume features wins over Colorado, Arizona and Marquette. The Bruins will take a four-game winning streak into Thursday’s game with Washington State.

No. 24 … Colorado … Colorado’s resume features wins over Oregon and USC. All three of the Buffaloes’ losses are considered Quadrant-1 defeats.

No. 25 … USC … USC’s resume features a win over Arizona and zero losses to teams outside of the top 25 of the NET. The Trojans will take a four-game winning streak into Thursday’s game with Washington.


January 12th 

CU receives votes in final USA Today/Coaches Poll (T-39th)

From CBS Sports … The 2020 college football season was one of uncertainties, but with its conclusion it appears voters feel certain about how the top 10 should look. The final Amway Coaches Poll was released on Tuesday and its top 10 mirrors the final AP Top 25 released overnight.

No. 1, of course, is Alabama following the 52-24 blowout of Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Buckeyes remain at No. 2 with Clemson, Texas A&M and Notre Dame rounding out the top five. Oklahoma, Georgia and Cincinnati follow with Iowa State and Northwestern jumping into the final two spots of the top 10. That marks Iowa State’s highest ending position in the Coaches Poll in program history. Northwestern finishes with its best season in the Coaches Poll since 1995 when it ended the year at No. 7.

Two new teams ended the year ranked: Ball State at No. 23 and Buffalo at No. 25. They replace NC State and Tulsa, both of which fell out after bowl losses to Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively.

Below is the final Coaches Poll in its entirety. First-place votes are in parenthesis.

1. Alabama (60)
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Texas A&M
5. Notre Dame
6. Oklahoma
7. Georgia
8. Cincinnati
9. Iowa State
10. Northwestern
11. BYU
12. Florida
13. Indiana
14. Coastal Carolina
15. Iowa
16. Louisiana
17. North Carolina
18. Liberty
19. Oklahoma State
20. Texas
21. USC
22. Miami (FL)
23. Ball State
24. San Jose State
25. Buffalo

Schools dropped out: No. 22 NC State; No. 25 Tulsa.

Other receiving votes: Wisconsin 38; Oregon 36; NC State 35; Army 34; Tulsa 30; Appalachian State 30; Nevada 17; Auburn 17; Memphis 14; Utah 11; Mississippi 10; West Virginia 7; Southern Methodist 7; Missouri 6; Colorado 6; Boise State 6; UAB 4; Washington 2; Marshall 2; Kentucky 1.


Odds at winning national title – CU at 200:1

From CBS Sports … Alabama hasn’t won back-to-back national titles since the 2011 and 2012 seasons — no other program has either — but the Crimson Tide are the early betting favorites to win it all next season and repeat as champions following their win 52-24 win over Ohio State in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship. According to odds released by William Hill Sportsbook, Alabama has 3-1 odds at the title. Clemson sits right behind the Tide with 4-1 odds.

The oddsmakers’ placement of the Crimson Tide at the top of the list is a clear sign of respect for coach Nick Saban’s dynasty. Alabama is likely to lose Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, star running back Najee Harris and star quarterback Mac Jones from this year’s 13-0 team. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is also headed to Texas to be the Longhorns’ new head coach. But with Saban still at the helm following his record seventh national title, it’s hard to argue against Alabama as the early favorite.

The full list of odds is below, and though it’s a fairly predictable cast of characters in the top spots, there is one team with decent odds that is not regarded as a traditional power in the sport.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • USC … 30:1
  • Oregon … 50:1
  • Arizona State … 100:1
  • Washington … 100:1
  • Stanford … 150:1
  • Utah … 150:1
  • Colorado … 200:1
  • UCLA … 250:1
  • Washington State … 500:1
  • Oregon State … 500:1
  • Arizona … 500:1
  • California … 750:1

… and …

  • Colorado State … 2500:1


ESPN “Way Too Early Top 25” includes four of CU’s 2021 opponents

… USC at No. 9??? … 

From ESPN … Even in a 2020 college football season that featured more starts and stops than Los Angeles traffic, there were a handful of near certainties, such as Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State reaching the College Football Playoff.

Even a pandemic couldn’t balance power in the most top-heavy sport.

Will we finally see those heavyweights fall back in 2021? Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence has already declared for the NFL draft. Will Alabama’s Mac Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields be next? Will it be enough for programs such as Georgia, North Carolina and Texas A&M to close the gap on teams that have dominated their conferences for much of the past decade?

We’ll have to wait about eight months to find out.

For now, here’s the first edition of the 2021 Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings, featuring projected returning starters, starters who might leave, key additions and outlooks for each team.

( * Denotes players who have already announced they’re leaving for the NFL draft, transferring or not returning to their current programs for other reasons.)

CU opponents for 2021 (4) … 

No. 6 … Texas A&M 

2020 record: 9-1 (8-1 SEC)
Projected returning starters: six offense, six defense, two special teams

Projected losses: QB Kellen Mond*, OT Dan Moore Jr.*, C Ryan McCollum*, G Jared Hocker*, OT Carson Green, LB Buddy Johnson*, CB Myles Jones

Key additions: DE Shemar Turner, DE Tunmise Adeleye, WR Shadrach Banks, ATH Dreyden Norwood, G Bryce Foster, CB Elijah Blades, LB Ke’Shun Brown, WR Camron Buckley

Outlook: The Aggies finally got a sizable return on their $75 million investment in coach Jimbo Fisher, closing the season with eight straight victories (each of the last seven by 10 or more points), including a 41-27 win over North Carolina in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Texas A&M might be destined for even bigger things in 2021 if it can replace some key pieces on offense. Mond and at least three starters from a very good offensive line are leaving. Freshmen Zach Calzada and Haynes King will battle for the QB job this spring.

Tailbacks Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, utility man Ainias Smith and tight end Jalen Wydermyer give the Aggies a nice core of returning players on offense. More playmakers are needed on the perimeter. The defense, under coordinator Mike Elko’s direction, led the SEC in total defense (317.3 yards per game). Top tacklers Johnson and Hansford, as well as top pass-rusher Bobby Brown III, will have to be replaced.

No. 9 … USC

2020 record: 5-1 Pac-12
Projected returning starters: eight offense, eight defense, two special teams

Projected losses: OT Alijah Vera-Tucker*, SS Talanoa Hufanga*, WR Tyler Vaughns*, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown*, CB Olaijah Griffin*, DT Marlon Tuipulotu*

Key additions: DE Korey Foreman, DT Ishmael Sophsher, S Xavion Alford, QB Miller Moss, QB Jaxson Dart, ATH Kyron Ware-Hudson, ATH Julien Simon

Outlook: The Trojans squandered their chance at winning a Pac-12 title and playing in a New Year’s Six bowl by losing to Oregon 31-24 in the league championship game. USC won its first South Division title since 2017, but the loss to the Ducks soiled what might have been some good equity for embattled coach Clay Helton. He is only 18-13 over the past three seasons, so USC needs to continue to show progress in 2021.

The Trojans can start by improving their woefully inadequate running game, which ranked last in the league and 120th in the FBS, averaging 97.3 yards per game. Maybe that’s why Helton fired offensive line coach Tim Drevno and strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus. USC’s defense improved under new coordinator Todd Orlando; it ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (26 points) and run defense (153.3 yards). The Trojans are scheduled to play at Notre Dame next season but will avoid Oregon and Washington in conference play.

No. 13 … Oregon

2020 record: 4-3 (3-2 Pac-12)
Projected returning starters: seven offense, seven defense, two special teams

Projected losses: TE Hunter Kampmoyer*, NG Jordon Scott*, DT Austin Faoliu*, CB Deommodore Lenoir*, WR Jaylon Redd, WR Johnny Johnson III, OT George Moore, S Nick Pickett*

Key additions: WR Isaiah Brevard, QB Ty Thompson, WR Troy Franklin, WR Dont’e Thornton

Outlook: It’s difficult to put much of a grade on Oregon’s performance in 2020 because it played only seven games and was missing a handful of its best players after they opted out before the season, including star tackle Penei Sewell, safety Jevon Holland, linebacker Brady Breeze and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. The Ducks won a Pac-12 title without winning their division and lost to Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl. Overall, Oregon fans probably anticipated a little more in coach Mario Cristobal’s third season.

First and foremost, the Ducks must decide on a starting quarterback this spring. Tyler Shough, Justin Herbert’s former understudy, completed 63.5% of his passes for 1,559 yards with 13 touchdowns and six picks. Boston College graduate transfer Anthony Brown took a lot of snaps in the Pac-12 championship game and the bowl game. It’s unclear whether Brown will return for another season.

The Oregon defense has three budding stars in Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mase Funa and Mykael Wright, and more help is on the way in linebacker Justin Flowe and cornerback Dontae Manning, who played sparingly because of injuries. Defensive coordinator Andy Avalos took the head-coaching job at Boise State, his alma mater.

No. 14 … Washington

2020 record: 3-1 Pac-12
Projected returning starters: 11 offense, eight defense, one special teams

Projected losses: DB Elijah Molden*, DB Keith Taylor*, DL Josiah Bronson*

Key additions: QB Sam Huard, TE Quentin Moore, QB Patrick O’Brien, LB Will Latu, WR Jabez Tinae, G Owen Prentice

Outlook: Jimmy Lake’s first season as Washington’s head coach was incomplete, as the Huskies played only four games and won the Pac-12 North but couldn’t play in the Pac-12 championship game because of COVID-19 issues.

The good news is that all but three starters might return in 2021 and the Huskies added Huard, the No. 1 pocket passer in the 2021 ESPN 300. Three other quarterbacks — Ethan Garbers, Jacob Sirmon and Kevin Thomson — left, so the Huskies also added O’Brien, a Colorado State graduate transfer. Huard and O’Brien will compete with returning starter Dylan Morris, who completed 60.9% of his passes for 897 yards with four touchdowns and three picks.

Washington’s priorities this spring are finding a bona fide No. 1 receiver and rebuilding the secondary.

While CBS Sports only has three CU opponents in its Top 25 

From CBS Sports … The more things change, the more they stay the same in college football. Check out the first half of the way-too-early top 25 ahead of the 2021 season.

No surprise that Clemson debuts at No. 1 with a difference-making quarterback and enough experience to reach another College Football Playoff. Two SEC teams are in the top four (surprise!). Oklahoma is back in the top five. Cincinnati has become a top 10 regular.

Hey, anything that resembles normality is a good thing. The 2020 season is over, and well, good riddance in a way. We’re tired to having to check each day for which games were still being played.

Hopefully, by the fall we’re back to a routine. Right now, we’ll settle for full stadiums and college football’s richest tradition: ranking teams before games are even played.

CU’s opponents for 2021 (3) … 

No. 10 … Texas A&M 

In Year 3, Jimbo Fisher almost got the Aggies into the playoff. What does he do for an encore in Year 4? Find a replacement for Kellen Mond for starters. The Aggies’ career leading passer turned out to be sneaky good. There is plenty of talent at running back to ease the transition. Jimbo won it all in Year 4 at Florida State. Is that a portent of what is to come?

No. 14 … USC 

COVID-19 was going to provide Clay Helton with a mulligan year if he faltered. The USC coach didn’t need it. For the third time in last six years, the Trojans played for the Pac-12 title. Their only loss was to Oregon in that game. Quarterback Kedon Slovis still has a deep receiving squad returning despite the loss of Tyler Vaughns.

No. 17 … Oregon 

Someone still has to explain to me the quarterback shuffling in the Fiesta Bowl. Tyler Shough or Anthony Brown? The Ducks “won” the Pac-12 (because Washington couldn’t play) but have a lot to prove after going 4-3.

Meanwhile, Jon Wilner doesn’t even have USC winning its own division … 

From the San Jose Mercury News … All the 2021 frontrunners will have starting quarterbacks from the Pac-12 footprint, but none of those teams are in the Pac-12:

— Former USC starter JT Daniels is taking charge at Georgia.

— Phoenix-area product Spencer Rattler will start for Oklahoma for the second year in a row.

— Bryce Young, a former five-star recruit from Southern California, takes over for Mac Jones at Alabama.

— Another former five-star recruit from Southern California, DJ Uiagalelei, takes over for Trevor Lawrence at Clemson.

— We’re not sure who will replace Justin Fields at Ohio State, but the two top candidates are Jack Miller (Phoenix) and CJ Stroud (Southern California).

In fact, those quarterbacks — sorry, those teams — make up the top-five in our rankings below.

The Pac-12 footprint is clearly producing high-level talent at the most important position in the sport. But that talent is leaving the conference at an unprecedented rate.

CU opponents for 2021 (5) … 

10. Texas A&M: Quarterback Kellen Mond is gone, but the Aggies will have an experienced defense and the benefits of four full recruiting cycles under Jimbo Fisher.

14. Washington: The highest-ranked team in the Pac-12 is only No. 14 overall — such is the state of college football on the West Coast. The Huskies are loaded with returning starters and have an early trip to Michigan that could supercharge their postseason position.

17. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are a sleeper candidate nationally, with a veteran quarterback (Jayden Daniels), a plethora of playmakers and improved talent on the lines of scrimmage. If it doesn’t happen for Herm Edwards in Year Four, it may never happen.

20. Oregon: What was a transition year for the Ducks in 2020 unfolded in predictable fashion, with uneven play and almost as many losses (three) as wins (four). If the quarterback play is more efficient and the defense solidifies, another conference title could follow.

23. USC: We projected the Trojans to be the best team in the Pac-12 this season but see a bevy of issues for 2021, starting with a mediocre offensive line that loses its best player (Alijah Vera-Tucker). A fourth-place finish in the South division wouldn’t surprise us.


11 Replies to “Rankings and Ratings”

  1. I don’t care what the pundits think. I want to see The Buffs come out and play their game. Be as efficient as possible and let the Buffalo Chips fall where they may. Win or lose GO BUFFS!!

    1. Jerry Palm is the “bracketologist” for CBS Sports.
      Of CU yesterday – before the USC game – Palm wrote of CU (which he had as a “Last Four In” 12-seed): “The Buffaloes have a resume that does not measure up to its metrics. That seems to be more common this season than in others, which is no surprise since pandemic schedules have made metrics a little less reliable this season. Colorado has a big road win at USC and a home-and-home split with Oregon, but also three bad losses”.

  2. Now how do you feel on not getting respect?? Lost to UW? Larry Scott is gone? Are you this dumb? I love CU, same story different year. It’s not hate, it’s truth.
    Same with football.
    All you do is say no love. You have to win, and this conference is not the conference of champions like the guy who commentates on drugs, Bill Walton.
    I’m from the south and a huge Buff fan. You have to understand and be a realist, this is not changing.
    Yes you will win some and be happy, but CU will never win. So please be real with yourself and stop bitching about CU getting no respect.
    UW 1-11 and 0-7 conference.
    They deserve NIT that’s it. They are only this good because of COVID, fans change things as well.
    Just watch, same story different year.
    Keep telling urself the same thing but get the same losing results.

    1. I appreciate your passion and frustration, but it’s not all about winning.

      I did a piece on the records of Pac-12 South teams over the past five seasons (I’ll find it for you if you would like).
      Short summary … CU has a record which is better than Arizona’s, better than UCLA’s (UCLA hasn’t had a winning season since 2015, despite having genius Chip Kelly on board the last three years) and is equal to that of Arizona State (oh, and CU has three straight wins over the Sun Devils).

      If it was all about the winning … the Buffs would still be getting more respect than they are getting now …

    2. This post did not age well.

      Just so you know

      And because of this
      You deserve and will get no respect.


      Note: Get off the shrooms

  3. Yeah the Buffs probably deserve at east a 30 but coming from CBS??? pffft
    I’m getting old and my memory aint what it used to be but didnt CBS have the Buffs beyond a hundred ibefore the season? And where did they have CSU and the Pusskers?
    Is there a sports pundit’s carousel?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *