Well, that last week of WAC hoops was certainly fun. UTRGV, Grand Canyon, and Cal Baptist are all rolling right now while New Mexico State continues its dominance in the WAC this season. In last week’s edition of the power rankings, Seattle U was ranked third, this week though, they’ve dropped down to sixth. Remember, power rankings are based on weekly games and results. The top 2 teams, and the 2 bottom teams, remain unchanged. There’s been some shuffling in the middle though.
As we draw closer to WAC Vegas, some of the seeds are beginning to show themselves. The glory of college basketball though, is that you never know what can happen. It will be fun to watch these games as we begin to head down the home stretch of WAC hoops regular season action.
1. New Mexico State
The Aggies 29 conference game winning streak was in jeopardy on Saturday evening, but Jabari Rice said “not so fast everyone” as he drilled the game winning three pointer with a second left. Jabari Rice averaged 19.5ppg for the Aggies as they got wins over Seattle U and UVU. With how he’s been playing, Jabari finds himself in the conversation for WAC POY. The Aggies continue to play together as a team and it is fun basketball to watch. With a healthy Trevelin Queen, this Aggies team is definitely the favorite for WAC Vegas. New Mexico State could potentially clinch their sixth consecutive WAC regular season title this Saturday and the #1 overall seed for WAC Vegas.
2. Grand Canyon
After dropping a tough one in Las Cruces, the Lopes have won three in a row. It took OT last Thursday for the Lopes, and it was guard Isiah Brown who hit a three with 26 seconds left that sealed a GCU win. Alessandro Lever led the team in scoring that game with 18 points. They then took care of business against a struggling Chicago State team. The Lopes and coach Majerle are starting to figure things out. The Lopes are in sole possession of the the crucial number 2-seed. With the duo of Carlos Johnson and Alessandro Lever, who were both pre-season all-WAC first team, they could make it 3 years in a row playing on Saturday night in WAC Vegas.
The Vaqueros are rolling! They’ve stunned just about everyone. But, we have to remember that the Vaqueros were picked to finish fourth in the preseason poll! Lesley Varner was named the WAC player of the week, as he averaged a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also shot a blistering 56% from the field and 94% from the free throw line en route to 2 wins this past week. They held off a pesky UVU team, and beat a talented Seattle U squad on Saturday. They have won 5 games in a row and have put themselves in the hunt for the #2 seed. With a record of 7-5, they are only one game from the 2nd seed. However, 3 of their last 4 conference games are on the road, and that includes a trip to Las Cruces to take on New Mexico State. Can Lew Hill and the Vaqueros ride the momentum into a difficult final four conference games?
4. California Baptist
The Lancers slid down a little bit because they didn’t play any WAC foes this past week. CBU absolutely dismantled non D-1 opponent Westcliff University though, 107-45. Although the Lancers are ineligible for the conference tournament, they will still most likely play in the CIT or CBI tournaments. It all depends on if they get the invite and if they want to pay to play. A strong finish to conference play will most likely result in an invite to the postseason. But, it won’t be easy as four of their remaining six games are on the road. Milan Acquaah, the preseason WAC POY, is currently a dark-horse in the WAC POY race. If he can play at a high level in the Lancers remaining games, he may find himself in that discussion again.
5. Kansas City
The Roos have jumped up two spots from last week’s rankings. Even though they split their two games, the Roos went in and took GCU to the wire in front of the Havocs. The Roos then bounced back with a big win against Cal State Bakersfield. Guard Brandon McKissic shot 89% from the field and poured in 20 points to go along with three assists and four rebounds in the win against the Roadrunners. Billy Donlon and his team have a favorable schedule down the stretch. If Kansas City can play hard-nosed, unselfish basketball like they were at the beginning of WAC play, I expect them to jump up in the standings. They’ve proved they can play with the big dogs, now it’s about finding ways to beat the big dogs.
6. Seattle U
And dropping three spots from last week’s rankings is the Redhawks. Look, the UTRGV and New Mexico State road trip is probably the toughest stretch of games in the conference. However, rules are rules, and with Seattle losing both games, they have dropped down quite a bit. Now, not all hope is lost as four out of their last five games are at home and it starts with a massive game against GCU Thursday night. Terrell Brown needs some help, and if Myles Carter and Morgan Means can provide that help, the Redhawks may put themselves in a good spot heading into WAC Vegas.
7. Cal State Bakersfield
Although the Roadrunners handled Chicago State, they dropped one against Kansas City. They only put up 53 points at home and shot just 9% (yes, 9%) from 3 point land. The Roadrunners lack a true playmaker. Taze Moore can occasionally be that guy but consistency is the problem. The rest of their schedule is certainly not easy, and they take on UVU and Seattle U this week. This upcoming stretch of games has major seeding implications for WAC Vegas, so it will be fun to watch.
Heartbreaking. That’s the word that describes this past week for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines lost at UTRGV for the first time in six years and then lost to NMSU in what was an incredible game. Although UVU has lost four in a row, they are beginning to play much better basketball and went toe to toe with NMSU. The Wolverines have lost eight WAC games. Six of the eight have been decided by eight points or less. That is how close UVU is to actually being 9-2 in WAC play. These rankings really aren’t indicative of how good this team can be. UVU needs to develop a killer instinct, and if they do that, keep an eye on Mark Madsen and co. in WAC Vegas.
9. Chicago State
There are two constants in these rankings. New Mexico State at the top and Chicago State at the bottom. That nearly changed on Saturday. The Cougars gave Bakersfield everything they had on Thursday, and it just wasn’t quite enough. This Chicago State team has a lot of heart, and they always give their all on the court. That’s not an easy thing to do with how bad the Cougars have struggled this season. However, Lance Irvin is doing everything he can with this program.