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Week 5 WCC power rankings: Shakeup among the bottom seven

The West Coast Conference’s big three remain cemented atop the league, but below them there’s no stability.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Gonzaga
Nigel Williams-Goss and Gonzaga have a lot to be happy about right now.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Team of the Week

Guard: Nigel Williams-Goss (second appearance) — Gonzaga Bulldogs
The former Washington Husky dropped 23 points (9-13 FG), five rebounds and five assists on his former team Wednesday in the Kennel.

Guard: D’Marques TysonPortland Pilots
In his first start of the season the junior scored 21 points against UT Rio Grande Valley, all of which came from three point range (7-21).

Guard: Brandon Brown — LMU Lions
The senior put up just eight points and no assists against Cal State Northridge on Sunday but still managed to average 15.7 points and 4.3 assists per game on the week.

Forward: Cameron NeubauerSan Diego Toreros
Against Cal State Fullerton the junior hit six-of-nine three pointers en route to a career high 29 points. His previous career high was 20, set the previous game. San Diego may have a new weapon.

Forward: Eric Mika (third appearance) — BYU Cougars
A 26-points and 10-rebound performance against Weber State was followed by a 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Colorado, all while hampered by food poisoning against the Buffaloes.

Power Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-0)

Last week: W 98-71 vs. Washington, W 61-43 vs. Akron
This week: 12/18 vs. Tennessee (in Nashville)
Previous: First

One of just seven undefeated teams remaining. First 10-0 start in program history. The buzz around the Zags this season is their depth and ability to hurt you from all five positions. Mark Few-coached teams are always great on the offensive end. But equally important to the Zags’ success this season is their defense, which is once again criminally overlooked. Through ten games, the Zags’ have held their opposition to an effective field goal percentage of 40.7%, good for fifth best in the nation per KenPom. Their sixth-ranked three-point defense just held a trigger happy Akron team to 43 points. Take note.

2. Saint Mary’s Gaels (7-1)

Last week: L 65-51 vs. UT Arlington, W 84-53 vs. UC Irvine
This week: 12/14 vs. Western Kentucky
Previous: Second

So, you can’t be losing to UT Arlington at home if you want to be a top-10 team. And that loss wasn’t just a loss. This is the second season this unit has been together, and their 0.795 points per possession on Thursday was the second worst performance it has posted (the other being 0.746 PPP in the NIT Quarterfinal loss to Valparaiso last season). Give UT Arlington some credit, though. They’ve scheduled like a team that knows they’re in the Sun Belt but wants a better seed in the NCAA Tournament.

3. BYU Cougars (7-3)

Last week: W 77-66 vs. Weber State, W 79-71 vs. Colorado
This week: 12/17 vs. Illinois (in Chicago)
Previous: Third

The run-and-gun Cougars have slowed down a bit and started making a few more shots. After starting the season with six straight games over 80 possessions, BYU has averaged 76 possessions over its past four games and posted a 3-1 record. If their nine- of-19 performance from three against Colorado wasn’t an anomaly — BYU’s three point percentage this season is a dismal 30.8 percent — then expect the Cougars to take a major step forward.

4. San Francisco Dons (7-1)

Last week: W 91-59 vs. San Francisco State
This week: 12/16 vs. Portland State
Previous: Fifth

By a mile the least impressive resume among the 26 teams with just one loss. The other 25 teams have each played at least one KenPom top-100 team. San Francisco hasn’t played a single top-200 team. Last week’s lone game was against a non-Div. I team. But they’re winning games.

5. Portland Pilots (5-3)

Last week: W 90-89 (2OT) vs. UT Rio Grande Valley
This week: 12/16 vs. South Dakota, 12/18 vs. Oregon State
Previous: Fourth

I’ve been pretty high on the Pilots this season. They’ve played a wonderful, tough schedule and been, for the most part, competitive. Alec Wintering (22.2 ppg) and Jazz Johnson (18.5 ppg) form one of the most underrated backcourts around. But we’re here in mid-December and the Pilots have no good wins and needed two overtimes to win, at home, against a really bad UT Rio Grande Valley team.

6. San Diego Toreros (5-5)

Last week: W 82-75 vs. Cal State Northridge, W 77-68 vs. UC Santa Barbara
This week: 12/17 vs. Bethesda
Previous: Ninth

Three straight wins for Lamont Smith’s Toreros. Of their five losses this season, three are completely respectable for a mid-major: at undefeated UCLA, against undefeated USC and at San Diego State (which is a tough place to play even when the Aztecs are at-best mediocre). Brett Bailey (18.6 PPG), coming off three less-than-impactful seasons, continues to ball out as a senior.

7. Loyola Marymount Lions (4-3)

Last week: L 80-79 vs. Boise State, W 75-68 vs. Southern Utah, W 69-68 at Cal State Northridge
This week: 12/17 vs. Incarnate Word
Previous: Eighth

The Lions have yet to lose a game by more than five points. They don’t really have a bad loss yet, but they don’t have anything remotely resembling a good win. They’re above .500 though, which is better than any team below them.

8. Santa Clara Broncos (4-6)

Last week: W 75-50 vs. Cal State East Bay
This week: 12/13 vs. UC Riverside, 12/17 at Washington State
Previous: Ninth

Against a non-Div. I opponent, the Broncos pulled down 46 percent of their available offensive rebounds. Against Div. I opponents this season, the Broncos rank 5th worst in the nation by grabbing just 19 percent of their available offensive rebounds. So, we now know the Broncos can crash the glass, but will they do so next week against Div. I teams?

9. Pacific Tigers (3-6)

Last week: L 72-48 at Massachusetts, L 73-66 vs. Rider
This week: 12/15 vs. North Carolina A&T, 12/17 vs. Fresno State
Previous: Sixth

Why would a team play at UMass on a Thursday, then fly back all the way across the country to host Rider in Stockton, California the following Saturday? I don’t know, but the Tigers did it and lost both games. Asking the Tigers to win at UMass would be too much, but losing at home to Rider is the domain of a team without much potential.

10. Pepperdine Waves (4-6)

Last week: L 75-66 at Long Beach State, L 93-67 at USC
This week: N/A
Previous: Seventh

Two years ago the Waves were a poor three-point shooting team, but had the third best three-point defense. This season they’re horrible at defending the three (343rd) but rank sixth in the country shooting it (43.3 percent).