These weekly power rankings are fun. At least in the eyes of those who read them, perhaps. Sometimes the term ‘weekly’ gets misconstrued with the entire season. See, from week-to-week things happen within the Western Athletic Conference. Say, a team going on a 20-0 run in the second half to stay undefeated in conference play. Or, an alley-oop dunk that sparks a run leading to a big home win over a hate opponent.
Perhaps one could argue that weekly we see the almost unthinkable happen. Just look at what happened in Edinburg this week. A team with its full roster had to come back from 12 points down with just over two minutes to play against a team with a depleted roster. That same team with its full roster found a way to squeak out a win and did the same thing Saturday.
Weekly Big Time Games
And what makes these weekly power rankings more fun is the fact we have big time games on a weekly basis throughout conference play. Two weeks ago, the big games were New Mexico State and Grand Canyon at both SFA and Sam Houston. Last week, on Saturday, we had two massive games in Sam Houston at Seattle and Grand Canyon at New Mexico State.
And that won’t change this week. Seattle heads to GCU and New Mexico State looking to solidify its spot atop the WAC standings. GCU is in a must-win situation to keep pace. And New Mexico State wants to be the King again after a wild 2020-21 season.
But those aren’t the only games of importance. Utah Valley heads to East Texas to take on SFA on Thursday and Sam Houston on Saturday. The defending regular season co-champs have won three straight and want to stay in the race, as well.
I will admit. I did not watch any games Saturday. Took a weekend away with the family to play some softball, swim and sleep in. I don’t get many of those during the hoops season. And this week, I am back on the road heading to Phoenix to catch Seattle and CBU at Grand Canyon.
With that being said, here is a look at the weekly power rankings.
1 – Seattle U Redhawks
This is a no-brainer. At 8-0 in WAC play and coming off a sweep of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, the Redhawks are red hot. See what I did there? A 20-0 run in the second half on Saturday helped the Redhawks overcome an 8-point deficit at halftime. And while Darrion Trammell, Cameron Tyson and Riley Grigsby were their usual selves, Vaz Pandža might be the hero of the afternoon. It was ‘Panda’ who got after Savion Flagg defensively. And it was Panda who provided an offensive spark off the bench with 14 points. Did I mentioned Seattle was shorthanded and only played with seven players? At 17-4 overall and 8-0 in WAC play, this week is perhaps the biggest of the season for the Redhawks at Grand Canyon on Thursday and at New Mexico State on Saturday.
— Seattle U Men's Basketball (@seattleumbb) January 29, 2022
2 – New Mexico State Aggies
Teddy Allen is the leader in the WAC Player of the Year conversation. After posting 28 points and 12 rebounds in New Mexico State’s win over Grand Canyon, this is no longer a debate. Allen has turned into a complete player and has bought into the winning culture according to head coach Chris Jans. And as long as Jabari Rice continues to play at a high level, there is no ceiling for one of the deepest teams in the country. The weekly power rankings are sure to shuffle after this upcoming weekend.
3 – Sam Houston Bearkats
I am still high on this squad despite the hard second half tumble at Seattle on Saturday. Savion Flagg is one of the best players in the WAC. And unfortunately for the Bearkats, they just caught a red-hot, veteran-led Seattle U squad on Saturday. At 8-2 in WAC play, Sam Houston still has a shot to finish in the top-2 in the WAC standings. The Bearkats host Dixie State and Utah Valley his week at Johnson Coliseum which head coach Jason Hooten hopes to have packed.
4 – Utah Valley Wolverines
Don’t look now but the Wolverines have won three straight. And on Thursday at Chicago State, scored the most points of the season after shooting over 60 percent from the field. Fardaws Aimaq is one of the best big men in the country. And the Wolverines got Justin Harmon back on Thursday, too. This week is a big road trip for the Wolverines who want to keep pace in the race for the 1 and 2 seeds at WAC Vegas.
5 – Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
I give the nod to the Lumberjacks in these weekly power rankings because they beat GCU head-to-head and haven’t lost three straight. All I will say is if SFA can find some consistency, this could be a dangerous team come March. Gavin Kensmil is as good as they come. But, it’s the other role players who have to be consistent.
— SFA Men’s Basketball (@SFA_MBB) January 30, 2022
6 – Grand Canyon Antelopes
Returning home may be the answer to prayer the Antelopes are seeking. Losers of three straight including a blowout loss at SFA and then a second-half collapse at New Mexico State and Sam Houston is creating some problems. But, a return to GCU Arena to host the league leaders on Thursday may be just what the doctor ordered. We will see if the Lopes can right the ship this week.
7 – Tarleton Texans
There are two reasons Tarleton is ahead of Abilene Christian. First is that it didn’t take a massive comeback for the Texans to beat UTRGV. Second, Tarleton had larger margins of victory over both Lamar and UTRGV despite not being as deep at ACU. Freddy Hicks and Noah McDavid had solid weeks for the Texans who are now 10-13 overall and 5-5 in WAC play.
8 – Abilene Christian Wildcats
These weekly power rankings create a stir. And perhaps with ACU, they will do that, again. But let me paint a picture. You have a full roster, force 26 turnovers and are playing a team who has lost three of its top scorers, and yet still find yourself down double digits late? That isn’t good. And then on Saturday, ACU nearly gave the game away to Lamar. ACU hosts Chicago State and UTRGV this week. So, keep an eye on the Wildcats who snapped a 5-game losing streak this week in a pair of wild games.
9 – Dixie State Trailblazers
Winners of three straight, Dixie State is playing some of its best basketball heading into February. But, the second month of conference play doesn’t start off with any pleasantries for Jon Judkins’ crew. Dixie State heads to East Texas to take on Sam Houston and SFA. Hunter Schofield has to continue to play at a high level. And the role players around him must continue to shoot it well. Dixie State is 11-10 overall and 4-4 in WAC play in its second season at the Division I level.
After Dancell Leter knocked down a corner 3, theAfter Dancell Leter knocked down a corner 3, the junior forward put the game on ice with this breakaway jam!#DixieBlazers | #WeAreONE | #WAChoops | #WACmbb junior pic.twitter.com/KzbJfxNr1D
— Dixie State Men's Basketball (@DIXIESTATEBBALL) January 29, 2022
10 – California Baptist Lancers
The weekly power rankings have not been friendly to the Lancers. But, then again, when you don’t win games, that is how it works. CBU has been so close. It’s simply a matter of finishing games strong. And perhaps once the Lancers get freshman point guard Taran Armstrong back, that will happen. But, this week’s road trip to New Mexico State and Grand Canyon doesn’t create any favors for the Lancers who are 2-6 in WAC play.
11 – Chicago State Cougars
The Cougars came back to Earth with a pair of home losses this week. Sure, Chicago State shot it really well and hung around with Utah Valley for the most part. But, at some point, you have to play defense and the Cougars didn’t do that. A Texas road trip to take on Abilene Christian and Tarleton doesn’t make things any easier.
12 – UTRGV Vaqueros
UTRGV had a chance to knock off ACU but couldn’t hang on in the wild loss. And on Saturday, the Vaqueros had no legs after playing at such a high level in Wednesday’s loss. The Vaqueros open February on Wednesday by hosting Lamar and then head north to take on Abilene Christian.
— UTRGV Men’s Basketball (@UTRGVmbb) January 27, 2022
13 – Lamar Cardinals
Lamar has consistency been at the bottom of the weekly power rankings. It’s unfortunately, really. This is a better team than its record shows. But, wins matter and Lamar has yet to win a conference game. Wednesday, the Cardinals play their lone game of the week at UTRGV. With 11 teams vying for 10 spots at WAC Vegas, this is a big one in Edinburg on Wednesday.