D-League Power Rankings: January 22, 2008

Randy Livingston, Idaho Stampede.
Ned Dishman/Getty Images/NBAE

by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com

The D-League Power Rankings return after a one-week hiatus due to the Showcase, and since we have been gone for 14 days it's no surprise that we have a new number one team. The Idaho Stampede make a return to the top spot as they are riding a twelve-game winning streak. Idaho has been dominant at home this season and remains undefeated at Qwest Arena after winning both of their games at the Showcase. The Stampede dropped their next four games after their last number one ranking, so hopefully they can reverse the curse and maintain their success as the season nears the halfway point.

Further down the rankings, Los Angeles, Dakota, and Austin have all established themselves as playoff contenders and threats to topple Idaho as the number one team. The Wizards and Toros are giving Idaho a run for their money as the league's most dominant home team, with opposing teams compiling a record of 3-11 in Bismarck and 2-11 in Austin. The D-Fenders have won seven of their last ten but are looking to snap a two-game losing streak, which would become their longest streak of the season with another loss.

Colorado is another team to watch this week, as the 14ers have won four straight to jump back into contention in the Southwest Division. Remember that this season, six teams will make the playoffs. If the season ended today, Dakota, Austin, and Idaho would qualify as the division winners, while the teams with the next three best records will also qualify. This would see Los Angeles, Colorado, and Utah headed to the playoffs as well.

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    1 Idaho (2) 17-5 The Stampede have not lost a game since December 14 and have now won 12 straight games. They also remain undefeated at home, although that streak will be tested this weekend when the D-Fenders visit Qwest Arena for two games. Center Mouhamed Sene, in his second season on assignment from the Sonics, has been nearly unstoppable in the paint, converting 23 of his last 29 field goal attempts.
    2 Dakota (4) 16-8 The Wizards are one of the league's hottest teams, winning seven of their last eight games and taking firm control of the Central Division. With no other team in the Central with a record above .500, the Wizards can likely cruise to the title if they stay consistent. A tough month lies ahead with eight of the next ten games on the road, where Dakota in only 5-5 this season.
    3 Los Angeles (3) 15-6 The D-Fenders handled Austin at the D-League Showcase so they get the nod for the number two slot this week. Los Angeles is now in the midst of a brutal road trip where they visit Dakota and Idaho, two teams that are a combined 21-3 on their home courts. The upcoming schedule with seven out of the next nine on the road will be a huge obstacle to overcome if the D-Fenders are going to keep up with the Stampede in the West Division.
    4 Austin (1) 15-6 The Toros suffered a disappointing loss in their first meeting with Los Angeles this season, but traveled to Iowa and emerged with a win to get back on track. Next up is a crucial home set against the Colorado 14ers, who are only 2.5 games behind the Toros in the Southwest Division.
    5 Colorado (5) 13-9 The 14ers are also on a hot streak, as they are winners of four straight since the D-League Showcase. Elton Brown has been too much for the opposition to handle with double-doubles in his last six games. The 14ers can close the gap in the Central Division with two games in Austin this week, where they are 0-2 this season.
    6 Utah (7) 13-10 The Flash have been playing a few games over .500 for the past month, going 6-4 in their last ten games. Utah, who is 3-5 away from Orem, will be racking up the frequent flyer miles for the rest of the season. 17 of the Flash's 27 remaining games in the 2007-08 campaign will be on the road.
    7 Tulsa (13) 10-11 The 66ers have played their best basketball of the season over the past few weeks, winning six of their last seven games to edge back to a .500 record. The good news continues as Tulsa is at home for their next eight games, which can set them up for a run to get back into playoff contention. The Nevada Wolfpack duo of Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions continues to excel, accounting for 37.8 points, 15.6 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game.
    8 Sioux Falls (9) 10-14 The Skyforce suffered three tough defeats on the road but bounced back in the friendly confines of Sioux Falls Arena, defeating the Thunderbirds and the Flash. 12 of the next 17 games on the schedule are on the road, where the Skyforce have struggled this season with a 2-10 record. They will need to drastically improve their road record over the next month to avoid falling out of any chance for a playoff berth.
    9 Fort Wayne (12) 9-12 The Mad Ants will be looking to build over a big win at home over the D-Fenders on Sunday, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Fort Wayne will now hit the road for four straight games against divison rivals Sioux Falls and Iowa. Kent Davison's team is 5-1 against the Skyforce and Energy this season.
    10 Rio Grande Valley (6) 10-14 Player defections and C.J Watson's call-up have hit the Vipers hard, as RIo Grande Valley has now lost nine out of their last ten games. 's 31. They are in the middle of six straight games on the road and started off the trip with two losses to the 14ers. The good news is that after the road trip ends, they only have seven games away from Dodge Arena for the remainder of the season compared to sixteen at home. New acqusition Desmon Farmer should be the new focuse of the offense, as he is one of the most prolific shooters from long-range in D-League history. Farmer currently has made 188 over parts of three seasons, which trails only Clay Tucker's 192 and Colorado's Billy Thomas with 202.
    11 Albuquerque (8) 8-12 The last two weeks have not been kind to the Thunderbirds, as they have lost four straight with three of the losses coming by 15 or more points. The schedule is looking up with the next five games at home where the Thunderbirds are 4-2 this season. Albuquerque needs to win a majority of these games if they are going to have any chance of moving back above the .500 mark and challenging for a D-League playoff spot.
    12 Anaheim (11) 8-14 The Arsenal continue to play inconsistent basketball, as they have been unable to win or lose more than three games in a row this season.The upcoming schedule is favorable over the next few weeks, with seven of the next eight at home. The Arsenal will be welcoming a return to Orange County, as they have compiled an ugly 1-8 record in road games (1-1 at the D-League Showcase neutral site) this season.
    13 Iowa (10) 9-15 The Energy were 9-6 just a few weeks ago, but have since dropped nine straight games to fall to the bottom of the Central Division. The next two weekends could make or break this season for Iowa as division rivals Fort Wayne and Sioux Falls visit Des Moines for two games each. Seven of their next ten games are at home, which is good news for a team that is 3-9 away from Wells Fargo Arena this season.
    14 Bakersfield (14) 4-21 The Jam defeated Anaheim at the D-League Showcase for their fourth win of the season, snapping a six-game losing streak. Andre Barrett, the team's leader in scoring and assists, has been spectacular this season but if he receives a GATORADE Call-Up the Jam could struggle to pick up additional wins as the season goes on.