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Week 4: West Coast Conference Power Rankings and Team of the Week

Things are starting to stabilize out west, where the top five teams sit in the same positions as last week.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Gonzaga
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few talks with guard Josh Perkins during their game against Mississippi Valley State.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Team of the Week

Guard: Jeremy Major - Pepperdine Waves
The senior guard’s workload just increased due to injuries around him. After a 21-point, six-assist performance, it seems like he’s up for the challenge.

Guard: Josh Perkins - Gonzaga Bulldogs
He went 5-7 from long range against Mississippi Valley State. Over two games last week, Perkins averaged 15.5 points per game and posted a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio.

Forward: Calvin Hermanson - Saint Mary’s Gaels
He had a career-high 25 points in the Gaels’ win at Stanford, including a 7-9 performance from three.

Forward: Eric Mika - BYU Cougars
Against Utah State: 20 points and seven rebounds. Against USC: career high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds.

Center: Przemek Karnowski - Gonzaga Bulldogs
Given the way the Zags share the ball, it’s going to be hard for any one player to put up huge numbers, but Karnowski’s 18-point performance against Arizona was the difference for Gonzaga.

Power Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-0)

Last week: W 97-63 vs. Mississippi Valley State, W 69-62 vs. No. 16 Arizona
This week: 12/7 vs. Washington, 12/10 vs. Akron
Previous: First

The most talented Gonzaga team ever? Maybe. The Bulldogs have depth and athleticism in the backcourt like never before, thanks in large part to Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss (12.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg). He’ll get a shot at his old team on Wednesday when the Huskies visit Spokane to rekindle a classic in-state rivalry. That rivalry was cancelled after the 2006 meeting, probably because Washington was tired of losing games (Gonzaga won eight of 10) and players (Dan Dickau, and now Nigel Williams-Goss).

2. Saint Mary’s Gaels (6-0)

Last week: W 66-51 at Stanford
This week: 12/8 vs. UT Arlington
Previous: Second

For my money, this is the best offense in all of college basketball. Averaging 1.28 points per possession against D-I competition, the Gaels rank second in the nation and are third in effective FG% (62.2 percent). Jock Landale (19.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and company have pushed the Gaels to the highest two-point percentage (64.1 percent) this season. Try to collapse on the posts like Stanford did last week, and this team will light you up from deep, where they shoot 40 percent.

3. BYU Cougars (5-3)

Last week: W 77-63 vs. Utah State, L 91-84 vs. USC
This week: 12/7 vs. Weber State, 12/10 vs. Colorado
Previous: Third

Eric Mika (20.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is as good a big man as there is, in not just the WCC but all of college basketball. Unfortunately for BYU, he’s all they’ve got, and the teams ranked above them have multiple bigs at or near his level. The Cougars rank in the bottom half nationally in effective field goal percentage due to their dreadful 29.1 percent shooting from long range. The gap between BYU and the top of the league is greater than that between BYU and the teams below.

4. Portland Pilots (4-3)

Last week: L 76-63 vs. Colorado
This week: 12/5 vs. UT Rio Grande Valley, 12/10 at Boise State
Previous: Fourth

Terry Porter’s Pilots have the toughest schedule in the WCC, by far, according to KenPom. Against UCLA, Dayton, and Colorado, Portland has shown scoring ability and toughness. This is a team that will eventually pull out an upset. Sophomore guard Jazz Johnson (18.4 ppg) is making an early case for a spot on an all-WCC team.

5. San Francisco Dons (6-1)

Last week: W 78-65 vs. Alcorn State, W 82-63 vs. Lamar
This week: 12/6 vs. San Francisco State (non-D-I)
Previous: Fifth

It’s been an impressive start for first-year man Kyle Smith’s Dons, at least at first glance. So far they’ve faced one team with a winning record against Division I competition, and they lost that game (at Eastern Washington). Their top-five national ranking in eFG% (60 percent) is likely just a factor of having played no team ranking in the top-200 of KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings. The Dons don’t have a real test until a Dec. 22 date with Utah.

6. Pacific Tigers (3-4)

Last week: L 77-67 at Nevada, W 74-58 vs. Sacramento State, L 78-77 at Cal State Fullerton
This week: 12/8 at UMass, 12/10 vs. Rider
Previous: Seventh

Two of the Tigers’ four losses have come against teams currently atop their conferences — 9-0 UCLA in the Pac 12 and 7-2 Nevada in the Mountain West. On Saturday, the Tigers fell one point short of putting together their first winning streak of the season.

7. Pepperdine Waves (4-4)

Last week: L 85-77 vs. Belmont
This week: 12/7 at Long Beach State, 12/11 at USC
Previous: Sixth

The Waves dished out just 15 assists against Belmont, in what was their first game since staring point guard Amadi Udenyi (6.7 ppg, 5.3 apg) went down for the season with a torn Achilles. It’s the second serious Achilles injury of Udenyi’s Pepperdine career. Awful news for a player who was on pace to finish among the program’s top-10 in assists, and awful news for a team that has underperformed thus far.

8. Loyola Marymount Lions (2-2)

Last week: N/A
This week: 12/5 vs. Boise State, 12/8 vs. Southern Utah, 12/10 at Cal State Northridge
Previous: Ninth

Did not play last week. Basically avoided losing last week. The Lions rise one spot simply because of that. Best thing they’ve done this year? Somehow managing to get UConn to visit Gersten Pavilion.

9. San Diego Toreros (3-5)

Last week: W 80-65 at Northern Arizona
This week: 12/7 vs. Cal State Fullerton, 12/11 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Previous: 10th

Brett Bailey matched his career high, set earlier this season, with 26 points against Northern Arizona. The Toreros have played some high-level teams, but they’ve yet to beat anything but hapless squads.

10. Santa Clara Broncos (3-6)

Last week: L 58-55 vs. UC Irvine, L 55-40 at San Jose State
This week: 12/10 vs. Cal State East Bay
Previous: Seventh

Four straight losses and no real identity. Herb Sendek’s got some work to do.