Team of the Week
Guard: Jared Brownridge (second appearance) — Santa Clara Broncos
After crawling over the 2,000 career points plateau a week ago, Brownridge is back to scoring in bunches. The stellar senior went for 20 on Thursday and 30 on Saturday.
Guard: Nigel Williams-Goss (fifth appearance) — Gonzaga Bulldogs
With 19 points, six assists, and just one turnover, the junior keyed the Zags’ domination of Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
Forward: Calvin Hermanson (second appearance) — Saint Mary’s Gaels
The junior sharpshooter went off for 27 points (10-16 FG, 5-10 3FG) in front of a hometown crowd in Portland on Thursday.
Forward: Lamond Murray Jr. (third appearance) — Pepperdine Waves
In two losses last week, the senior averaged 27.5 ppg. He’s scored in double figures in all but two games this season. In the two games he fell short, he did so by just one point.
Forward: Johnathan Williams — Gonzaga Bulldogs
The starting strong forward averaged just 13 points and seven rebounds per game last week, but he went 12-17 from the field with five blocks, all against the Gaels, and just one turnover. He’s quietly becoming a stud in Spokane.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (17-0, 5-0)
Last week: W 93-55 vs. Loyola Marymount, W 79-56 vs. Saint Mary’s
This week: 1/19 at Santa Clara, 1/21 vs. Portland
After dominating arch-rival Saint Mary’s, a team ranked in the AP Poll since the preseason, it’s time to start talking about Gonzaga as not just the best team in the WCC, but all of college basketball. Scoring 1.19 points per possession, Gonzaga ranks fourth in the country. And by holding opponents to 0.89 points per possession, Gonzaga ranks seventh nationally. There’s not a deficiency anywhere in the Zags’ eight man rotation. Oh yeah, and no other team is undefeated.
2. Saint Mary’s Gaels (15-2, 5-1)
Last week: W 74-33 at Portland, L 79-56 at Gonzaga
This week: 1/19 vs. Pacific, 1/21 vs. Pepperdine
Yes, Saint Mary’s lost in the Kennel, but no one in the country would be expected to win there right now. Saint Mary’s played most of the game without leading scorer Jock Landale, who got into foul trouble early in both halves and eventually fouled out. Still, the slow-as-molasses Gaels held Gonzaga to a season-low 59 possessions. That came two days after they held Portland to just nine first-half points. Crisp ball movement and offensive efficiency are the hallmarks of this squad, but they’re no slouches defensively.
3. Santa Clara Broncos (10-9, 4-2)
Last week: W 59-57 at San Diego, W 75-61 at Pepperdine
This week: 1/19 vs. Gonzaga, 1/21 vs. Loyola Marymount
Broken record alert: sophomore guard KJ Feagin (14.7 ppg) is back and the Broncos are good again. I’ve said this every week since he returned from a foot injury seven games ago. Santa Clara is 5-2 since his return and playing its best defense of the season. Plus, his scoring output takes some of the pressure off of Jared Brownridge (17.9 ppg). This team is heading in the right direction, and quickly, regardless of what happens Thursday against Gonzaga.
4. BYU Cougars (13-6, 4-2)
Last week: W 85-75 vs. San Francisco, L 88-75 at San Diego
This week: 1/19 vs. Pepperdine, 1/21 at Pacific
That’s it for the Cougars’ at-large hopes. I mean, they’d been gone for a while but there’s really no coming back from a loss to San Diego.
Since joining the WCC for the 2011-12 season, BYU has lost 14 regular season games to teams not named Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s. Saint Mary’s has lost eight to teams other than Gonzaga and BYU. Gonzaga, just three against the WCC’s other tier. In all honesty, I had the Cougars pegged third before I filled out Santa Clara’s blurb. The only reason I put BYU third instinctively is because they’re a brand. Because they’re a brand, they get more chances in the non-conference than any team besides Gonzaga. Here, they are squandering those chances, inexplicably, once again. Their resume is better than Santa Clara’s, but I don’t think their on-court product is.
5. Loyola Marymount Lions (9-8, 2-4)
Last week: L 93-55 at Gonzaga, W 79-78 at Portland
This week: 1/19 vs. San Diego, 1/21 at Santa Clara
A late-game comeback capped by a Brandon Brown layup gave the Lions a win in Portland Saturday. Any time you can split the WCC’s Pacific Northwest swing, you’re doing just fine. The Lions have hung tight with Saint Mary’s at home, and should’ve won at BYU. Thursday’s blowout loss at Gonzaga says more about the Zags than the Lions at this point. LMU is a team that will hang with anyone. Five of the Lions’ games this season have been decided by one point, and eight by one possession.
6. San Diego Toreros (9-9, 2-4)
Last week: L 59-57 vs. Santa Clara, W 88-75 vs. BYU
This week: 1/19 at LMU, 1/21 vs. San Francisco
San Diego picked up its best win of the season by far on Saturday, at home over BYU. Prior to knocking off the Cougars, San Diego had just two top-300 wins in KenPom: North Texas (294) and Pepperdine (299). BYU ranks 67th. Unfortunately for the Toreros, that win over the Cougars says more about BYU than San Diego. Still, it vaults them up in an otherwise unremarkable bottom half of the WCC.
7. San Francisco Dons (12-7, 2-4)
Last week: L 85-75 at BYU, W 72-51 vs. Pacific
This week: 1/19 vs. Portland, 1/21 at San Diego
Much like the team above them, San Francisco ran up a pretty non-conference record against mostly nobody. Those wins against Utah and Illinois State in Oahu are good, but clearly the outliers. Granted, the Dons’ first six conference games have included four losses to the teams I have ranked in the top four of the conference. But against them, Kyle Smith’s squad hasn’t looked close to competitive.
8. Portland Pilots (9-8, 2-3)
Last week: L 74-33 vs. Saint Mary’s, L 79-78 vs. LMU
This week: 1/19 at San Francisco, 1/21 at Gonzaga
I was going to just embed a tweet from CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander here, but the account he quoted got suspended. If not for sharing a screenshot of an ESPN broadcast, it surely got suspended for sharing something graphic and truly disturbing. It shared photographic evidence that Saint Mary’s held Portland to just nine points in the first half, in Portland, on Thursday.
9. Pacific Tigers (8-11, 2-4)
Last week: W 79-74 vs. Pepperdine, L 72-51 at San Francisco
This week: 1/19 at Saint Mary’s, 1/21 vs. BYU
The Tigers get to the free throw line a lot; over 22 percent of their points come from free throws, the 63rd-highest mark in the nation. I say this because TJ Wallace scored the game high Thursday with 25 points. He made 11 free throws. They’re not even a very good free throw shooting team (68 percent). Yikes.
10. Pepperdine Waves (5-13, 1-5)
Last week: L 79-74 at Pacific, L 75-61 vs. Santa Clara
This week: 1/19 at BYU, 1/21 at Saint Mary’s
Pepperdine opened the season 4-1.
This week, the Waves travel to BYU and Saint Mary’s.
So, after starting the season 4-1, they’re likely going to have gone 1-14 by the time we redo these power rankings next week. See you then.