Ben Howland believes UW should be ranked

Pac-10 preseason favorite Washington exited the national rankings weeks ago, and the conference hasn't seen one of its teams in the polls since then.

The way UCLA coach Ben Howland sees it, the Huskies merely lost to three current top-20 teams away from home in Kentucky, Michigan State and Texas A&M, and the Huskies deserve more national respect.

"I find it really, really surprising they're not nationally ranked," Howland said on the eve of Washington playing at UCLA. "They should be ranked. I don't understand it."

The Huskies could easily climb back into the rankings with a win on Friday that would mark only their third-ever sweep of the Los Angeles schools. Gutting out a 73-67 overtime victory at USC on Wednesday was crucial, proving they could win a close game in a road environment (though Huskies fans were loud in chanting "just like football" at Trojans fans).

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, after some early-season struggle,s came through with 18 points, and freshman Terrence Ross also had 18 in a confidence-building game for him on a night when USC was focused on stopping Isaiah Thomas.

UCLA is looking to go 2-0 in the Pac-10 as well after containing Washington State's Klay Thompson. The Bruins will now ask Malcolm Lee try to shut down Thomas.

That match-up along with the Bruins' ability to stop the Huskies' transition offense should determine which team wins and takes first place in the Pac-10.

And also whether or not the conference is represented when the polls come out next week.