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January 22, 2008

Budinger back on top of power rankings

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

The battle to be the best small forward in college basketball just took another twist.

After being unseated by Michigan State's Raymar Morgan seven weeks ago, Arizona sophomore Chase Budinger reclaimed the top spot among small forwards in Rivals.com's latest Power Rankings.

Budinger put together some of his best performances of the season in two recent road victories for the Wildcats. Nine days ago, he scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds (his first double-double) in Arizona's 85-71 win over Houston. Saturday, he scored 21 points and made a career-high six steals in the Wildcats' 79-75 win over California.

Morgan has suffered some of his worst performances of the season as of late. He's averaging 8.3 points (nearly half of his season average of 16.4) over his past three games and shooting 9-for-26 (34.6 percent) over that stretch.

None of the other top rankings among the players changed, but Memphis' John Calipari did climb to the top of the coaching rankings. Calipari claimed the No. 1 ranking after North Carolina and UCLA suffered surprising losses Saturday. UNC's Roy Williams and UCLA's Ben Howland were previously ranked first and second, respectively.

Two Pac-10 players moved up to No. 4 at their respective positions, UCLA small forward Josh Shipp and Cal power forward Ryan Anderson. Shipp hit a career-high five 3-pointers and matched a season-high with 21 points in UCLA's loss to USC. Anderson scored a combined 62 points and hauled in 22 boards in Cal's losses to Arizona State and Arizona.

Maryland's James Gist made one of the biggest jumps, going from No. 17 to No. 12 in the power forward rankings. Gist played his best game of the season in the Terps' 82-80 upset of North Carolina, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 boards.

Washington State shooting guard Derrick Low is making a return to the power rankings after a 27-point performance in the Cougars' 69-60 win over Oregon.

Two freshmen, Butler's Matt Howard and Wake Forest's James Johnson, make their debuts this week. Howard has given Butler a steady scoring threat on the inside. He is averaging 13.8 points and shooting a team-high 58.8 percent from the field. Johnson carried Wake to a 74-57 win over Florida State on Sunday, scoring a career-high 26 points.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players and coaches were the best at their respective positions.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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