1. #24 Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-2)
To a Gonzaga fan, no place on the planet is worse than Wichita, Kansas. The "Air Capital of the World" has played a role in two of the Zags' three most recent losses. On Saturday it was the site of a loss to Bruce Weber's Wildcats. An uncharacteristically weak non-conference slate (at Memphis on February 8th is the only impressive team on the docket) made this game exceptionally important for the Zags' resume.
Sam Dower left the game late in the first half after falling hard on his hip. X-rays came up negative, but the big man will have to deal with a badly bruised hip nonetheless. Also, now-eligible transfer Angel Nunez logged a grand total of zero minutes against the Wildcats.
Last Week: L 72-62 vs. Kansas State (Wichita).
This Week: 12/28 vs. Santa Clara (6-6).
2. Saint Mary's Gaels (9-1)
The Gaels were poised to jump into first place in these power rankings after an historic win Thursday, until a tumble late last night. Their first game in paradise, in the Diamond Head Classic, was a loss to a sub .500 South Carolina team. Though, it should be noted that four of the Gamecocks five losses have come against good or excellent teams (Baylor, OK State, Clemson and Manhattan).
The Gaels now face host team Hawai'i before a less than exciting date with either Oregon State or George Mason. The other half of the bracket is loaded with RPI-boosters.
Last Week: W 59-44 vs. American, L 78-71 vs. South Carolina (Honolulu).
This Week: 12/23 vs. Hawai'i (7-3), 12/25 vs. TBD.
3. Pacific Tigers (9-2)
The Tigers spent last week in Vegas. Unfortunately, what happened won't be staying in Vegas. Their loss to the other Tigers, Princeton, will remain forever on their record. Princeton absolutely demolished Pacific, 83-58. The Tigers bounced back with a win over Bradley. They now have the week off in advance of conference play.
Last Week: L 83-58 vs. Princeton, W 71-55 vs. Bradley (both in Las Vegas).
This Week: No games.
4. BYU Cougars (8-5)
The Cougars are on a two game losing skid after losses to chief rival Utah and an overtime heart breaker at Oregon. 6' 6" sophomore Kyle Collinsworth handled point guard duties against Oregon. Former point guard Matt Carlino remained in the starting line up, but played off-guard.
These losses aren't due to a lack of scoring, BYU totaled 160 points over the two most recent games, but complete lack of defense. Oregon, Massachusetts and Stanford have all reached triple figures in scoring against the Cougars.
Last Week: L 100-96 at Oregon.
This Week:12/28 at Loyola Marymount (8-4).
5. Portland Pilots (8-4)
The Pilots spent the week in Las Vegas, playing in the South Point Holiday Classic, along with Pacific. Unlike the Tigers, however, the Pilots were able to defeat Princeton. They trailed for most of the first half but mounted a strong comeback to lead by as many as 18. Ryan Nicholas and Bryce Pressley finally have a solid supporting cast. This season the Pilots are a complete team, and that's why they've steadily risen in these rankings.
They begin WCC play this weekend, at home, against the league's two worst teams.
Last Week: W 74-53 vs. Bradley, W 93-79 vs. Princeton (both in Vegas).
This Week: 12/28 vs. San Francisco (7-5).
6. San Diego Toreros (9-4)
Southern Utah, arguably the worst team in college basketball this season, was no problem for San Diego. While Southern Utah is an RPI killer, it was just what the doctor ordered for the Toreros. San Diego snapped a three game losing skid to Division I opponents.
Unfortunately, it's far from a confidence inspiring win, especially considering they won by just 15 points.
Last Week: W 67-52 vs. Southern Utah.
This Week:12/28 at Pepperdine (6-5).
7. Loyola Marymount Lions (8-4)
The Lions remain stuck in 7th despite picking up their best win of the season last week. But since their best win came against Cal Poly, a team with just two Division I wins this season, they really have no right to climb in the rankings. Cal Poly has played an absolutely brutal schedule including games against Arizona, Oregon, Pacific and Pittsburgh (Stanford and Delaware remain). Their other game this week was a rout of NAIA member La Sierra.
Evan Payne is the frontrunner for WCC Newcomer of the Year. Gabe Levin should join him on the all-freshman team by season's end.
Last Week: W 79-59 vs. Cal Poly, W 100-83 vs. La Sierra.
This Week:12/28 vs. BYU (8-5).
8. Pepperdine Waves (7-5)
The Waves haven't been very busy this month. Saturday's game against Houston Baptist was just their fourth in December.
Brendan Lane had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Stacy Davis added 21 points and ten rebounds. The last time two Waves had 20+ points and 10+ rebounds was January 25th, 1989. Marty Wilson was on that team. He's in his third year as head coach now.
Last Week: W 76-64 vs. Houston Baptist.
This Week: 12/28 vs. San Diego (9-4).
9. San Francisco Dons (7-5)
The Dons week started with a game that would have been fantastic a few decades back. Since it happened now, though, it was pretty ugly. St. John's routed San Francisco in New York, in prime time, on national television. For what it's worth, Cody Doolin had 18 points and 14 assists last season against the Johnnies. He was nowhere to be found on Tuesday.
Over the weekend the Dons bounced back with a win over American.
Last Week: L 81-57 at St. John's, W 77-69 vs. American.
This Week: 12/28 at Portland (8-4).
10. Santa Clara Broncos (6-6)
I wanted to put the Broncos above the Dons this week, but their resume just isn't good enough. That said, they're playing good basketball and heading in the right direction.
They did stumble over the weekend, though. At the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, site of the WCC Tournament, UNLV snapped the Broncos' three game winning streak. Two of those three wins came earlier last week. Santa Clara hosted and defeated Radford on Monday and Sacred Heart on Wednesday.
The rebuilding Broncos finish the non-conference slate against South Florida, with a chance to enter conference play above .500. Nobody outside of the program saw that coming.
Last Week: W 75-62 vs. Radford, W 70-61 vs. Sacred Heart, L 92-71 vs. UNLV (Las Vegas).
This Week: 12/23 vs. South Florida (8-3), 12/28 at Gonzaga (10-2).
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