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ACU forward Cameron Steele is the WAC Player of the Week after helping the Wildcats open WAC play with a pair of road wins. Courtesy ACU Athletics.

First Power Rankings of 2022 Feature a New Face at the Top

Out with the old and in with the new as we now enter 2022. Did you see what I did there? I made a rhyme. Cheesy for sure. But, it works. And as we start 2022, we also have to acknowledge that WAC play has begun despite the COVID chaos. With WAC play beginning, it is time to get back to the power rankings. And in the first power rankings of the new year, a new face sits at the top after an impressive opening weekend.

Other teams may see that they have some work to do. At least in our opinion. And others, well, there isn’t much to write about because some teams did not play this weekend. Luckily, we are seeing games getting rescheduled. So, hopefully all WAC games will be played in the regular season.

Let’s get to it.

1 – Abilene Christian

Don’t over think this fans. Just don’t. ACU went on the road and won a pair of conference games. One of the wins was at Utah Valley. That’s impressive. What’s more impressive is they won in different ways. On Thursday night, ACU was red hot from the field. On Saturday night, the Wildcats forced 27 turnovers. ACU isn’t big, per se. But Airion Simmons and Cam Steele play like giants and the Wildcats get after you. Did I mention ACU has now won 11 straight since opening the season 0-2?

Hopefully, Thursday night takes place as ACU hosts Stephen F. Austin.

2 – New Mexico State

I get it Aggie fans. You might be a bit miffed at this considering the wins NMSU has had thus far. This doesn’t take away from those, at all. Just remember when you claimed road wins were better than home wins. The Aggies had to shake off some rust on Saturday night before pulling away from Chicago State late. It was to be expected. The Aggies hadn’t played a game in nearly 12 days. But, New Mexico State got it done at home against a much-improved Chicago State team. The Aggies go on the road to take on Lamar and UTRGV this week.

3 – Utah Valley

Yes, the loss to ACU to open WAC play stings. But, the Wolverines responded with a dominant win on Saturday over Tarleton. Fardaws Aimaq had a pair of double-doubles this week. Blaze Nield showed he can light it up with his 27-point performance on Thursday. Connor Harding had a big game on Saturday. And this team is going to get Justin Harmon back in the next week or two. The Wolverines host Dixie State on Saturday.

4 – Grand Canyon

The Lopes got WAC play started with a win over Chicago State on Thursday. Jovan Blacksher Jr. continues to play at a high level. Chance McMillian’s defensive presence was key in the Lopes pulling away. And GCU played without Holland Woods in the WAC opener. The Lopes are at UTRGV and at Lamar in the second week of WAC play.

5 – Stephen F. Austin

The Jacks had their scheduled disrupted when Lamar postponed Saturday’s contest due to COVID. SFA heads to ACU to take on the Wildcats on Thursday in their WAC opener.

6 – California Baptist

The Lancers didn’t get a chance to take the floor this week. CBU’s WAC opener against Seattle was postponed. Next up is a trip to Chicago State on Saturday.

7 – Seattle U

Seattle postponed its first two WAC games due to COVID issues. The Redhawks are scheduled to go to Chicago State on Thursday.

8 – Sam Houston

It took nearly the entire game but Sam Houston finally took control in its WAC opener against Lamar late in the second half. Savion Flagg had a game-high 22 points. And Demarkus Lampley chipped in 20 in the WAC opener for both teams. The Bearkats host UTRGV on Monday night in a makeup of Saturday’s postponement.

9 – Tarleton

Despite playing with a depleted roster, Tarleton managed a split of its opening weekend of conference play. The Texans were without two starters and two coaches. But, led by Freddy Hicks on Thursday, led wire-to-wire in a 14-point win at Dixie State. On Saturday, Tarleton just ran into a motivated Utah Valley squad and was really outmatched in the contest. Hopefully, the Texans can get healthy and be ready when they host Sam Houston on Thursday.

10 – UTRGV

The Vaqueros will open WAC play on Monday night at Sam Houston.

11 – Chicago State

It is a different Chicago State squad in 2021-22. Even with a depleted roster, the Cougars hung around with GCU and NMSU for a good portion of both games. Ali Abdou Dibba had a career-high 21 points and seven rebounds in the loss at GCU. Jahsean Corbett had 27 points and nine rebounds in the loss at NMSU. This team will win some games in the WAC in 2022.

12 – Dixie State

Opening weekend of WAC play was not what Dixie State fans had in mine. On Thursday night, the Trailblazers came out flat against a short-handed Tarleton squad. And it caught up with them in the 14-point loss. On Saturday, to open 2022, Dixie State could not take care of the ball. The Trailblazers committed 27 turnovers in the loss to ACU. Dixie State is better than it showed this weekend. But, the road doesn’t get any easier as the Trailblazers head up I-15 to take on Utah Valley on Saturday.

13 – Lamar

The Cardinals had Sam Houston on the ropes on Thursday. Perhaps it was tired legs or perhaps it was just Sam Houston woke up. Either way, the Cardinals have yet to beat a Division I opponent. And the start to 2022 didn’t work out with a postponement. All this while playing short-handed all season. We have yet to see the four Lamar guards be on the floor at the same time. And on Thursday, Kasen Harrison, Jordyn Adams and Davion Buster were out. Hopefully we see a full Lamar squad sometime this season.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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