First the good news. BPI, generally viewed as a better measuring tool than RPI, ranks the Zags 36th of 351. Wins over (ranks in parentheses) UConn (34), Tennessee (74), UW (77), and even WSU (116) -- which usually hurts our ranking -- are better than expected. Losses to Texas A&M (19), Arizona (20) and UCLA (60) not too bad, except for two of them being while favored at home.

Real surprise is the prospect for some good ratings games in the future. We all were justified in looking forward to an opportunity at SMU (13), likely to be undefeated if they don't trip at home vs. Cincinnati. But the Zags will also play 2 or 3 games each against St. Mary's (18) and BYU (70). Pepperdine is at least above average at 156.

However (the bad news), at least 8 more games against LMU (208), Portland (210), USF (222), Santa Clara (234), Pacific (280) and San Diego (289). A loss of any of those games, especially at home, would be a RPI/BPI/rankings/ratings/NCAA seeding disaster. All are currently near or among the bottom one-third of all teams in the country. Please expand soon, Big East. Probably our only hope in the long term.

For this year, win those eight, upset SMU, lose only one (or maybe even one each) to St Mary's and BYU -- lot of ifs -- and the Zags are not only in the dance, but in contention for playing the first weekend in Spokane. After the terrible blow to Shem, wouldn't that be great!!

Go Zags! Believe it, will it and win!