Mesa is No. 2 in first regional hoops rankings
With about 30 minutes left in practice Wednesday, word filtered into Brownson Arena that the South Central Region women’s basketball rankings had been released.
Colorado Mesa, the No. 2 team in the nation, one of two undefeated teams in Division II and the defending regional champion, is No. 2 in the region, behind West Texas A&M.
The Buffs are No. 3 in the nation, but national rankings have no bearing on regional rank, which has its own criteria, including in-region record and strength of schedule of teams in the RMAC, Lone Star and Heartland conferences.
The Mavericks weren’t thrilled with being No. 2, but, coach Taylor Wagner said, it’s only the first poll.
“There’s still two weeks to play,” he said. “I figured we’d be one or two. Obviously you want to be able to host it, but there are still a lot of games to be played. We’ve just got to be ready.”
This team has had a “prove it” mentality all season, proving that it could be just as successful as last season despite losing two All-Americans and three of its top four scorers.
“We can either use it as motivation or not,” Wagner said. “Hopefully we play with a chip on our shoulder and prove to teams we’re better than some people think we are.”
Colorado Mesa is 23-0 overall, 22-0 against Division II teams and teams within the region. West Texas, 21-1, has a 19-1 Division II record and a 17-1 in-region record.
Colorado State-Pueblo is third in the region, followed by Tarleton State (Texas) and Texas A&M International. Fort Lewis is No. 8 in the region. Tarleton State upended West Texas A&M 71-69 on Wednesday night, which should come into play in next week’s regional poll.
Regional rankings are released each Wednesday the next two weeks, with the final ranking released March 9, when the regional pairings and host sites are announced by the NCAA.
The Mavericks play their final home game of the regular season against Western State Colorado University at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, then travel to Adams State and Fort Lewis next weekend before hosting the first round of the RMAC tournament March 4.
If the Mavericks win that game, they will host the semifinals and championship games of the RMAC Shootout on March 7-8.
“I think we can really make a statement,” Wagner said. “There have been some games, you take last weekend for example, we didn’t make a statement with those. We can do that the next few games and in the (RMAC) tournament. I’m not too disappointed, but we’ll have our shot one way or another.”
Academic All-American: The Mavericks’ Sharaya Selsor was one of three RMAC players selected to the Capital One Academic All-America basketball team.
Selsor, is a senior from Glenwood Springs, graduated in December with a 3.52 GPA in sports management and is currently taking classes toward a master’s degree in business administration.
Selsor, Ashley Kuchar of Fort Lewis and Tae’lor Purdy of Regis all made the third team.
Much like the women’s rankings, Metro State is ranked lower in the region than in the nation.
The Roadrunners, the No. 1 team in the nation at 21-1, and who received 14 of 16 first-place votes in the national coaches poll, is No. 2 in the region behind Tarleton State. Metro State finished as last season’s national runner-up.
Tarleton State, 18-1 against regional opponents, received the No. 1 spot in the first regional poll. Colorado School of Mines is fourth and CU-Colorado Springs 10th.
The top eight teams in the eight final regional polls receive spots in the first round of the national playoffs.
Colorado Mesa men’s singles player Jordan Lyden received the RMAC player of the week award.
The junior defeated NCAA Division I player Ben Gendron of the University of Northern Colorado in the Mavericks’ first dual of the spring season. Gendron was the Big Sky player of the week the previous week.
Lyden won the USTA/ITA South Central Regional Championship last fall.