College basketball • Rebels, Zags lead rankings; Cougs check in at No. 5.
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1. UNLV (16-2)
Not only are the Runnin' Rebels riding a seven-game win streak heading into a showdown at San Diego State on Saturday, but they just landed Khem Birch, a former five-star recruit who's transferring from Pitt.
2. Gonzaga (13-2)
Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Bulldogs feature an improving defense that has held seven of those last eight opponents to 61 points or less and allowed fewer three-pointers than earlier in the season.
3. St. Mary's (15-2)
The Gaels have won five in a row heading into their showdown with Gonzaga, hoping to remain the only unbeaten team in the WCC and seize control of the league championship race.
4. Cal (13-4)
Sweet-shooting Allan Crabbe is emerging as a star for the Golden Bears, so long as the point guard continues his renewed emphasis on staying active and aggressive. If not? Maybe not so much.
5. BYU (14-4)
One of the nation's highest-scoring teams, the Cougars average nearly 80 points per game and are surviving pretty well without Jimmer, thanks to guards Matt Carlino and Brock Zylstra.
6. New Mexico (14-2)
The athletic Lobos are riding a 12-game winning streak, and have won 36 straight games when scoring 80 points or more. But will it hold up when they stop playing pushovers?
7. Stanford (13-3)
Senior forward Josh Owens leads a promising young team, but the Cardinal has hardly played much of a schedule and needed four overtimes to beat Oregon State (albeit on the road).
8. Long Beach St. (8-6)
The record might not look so glossy, but the 49ers played the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, and have the most talented lineup in the Big West Conference.
9. San Diego St. (14-2)
It has been awhile since the Aztecs played a quality opponent, but they will get tested right away when highly ranked UNLV comes to town for an early Mountain West showdown.
10. Colorado (11-4)
Few people would have pegged the Buffs for big things this season, but they are the only team unbeaten in Pac-12 Conference play, and they have won six games in a row.