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WCC Power Rankings: Big changes after Thanksgiving weekend

A familiar name sits atop the rankings.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Ohio State
Johnathan Williams and Gonzaga had a great holiday weekend.
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Feast Week was a busy one for the WCC, and as a result there was plenty of movement in this week’s rankings, particularly at the top. Let’s start with the week’s best individual performers.

Team of the Week

G: Emmett Naar - Saint Mary’s Gaels (third appearance)
Averaged 16.3 points per game last week and came close to a triple double against Harvard (11, 9 and 9).

G: Isaiah Wright - San Diego Toreros (second appearance)
Almost dropped a triple double on Grand Canyon with 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

G: Josh Perkins - Gonzaga Bulldogs
Perkins lit up the PK80 with a 14 of 21 performance from long range over three games.

F: Johnathan Williams - Gonzaga Bulldogs
The rock solid senior erupted for a career high 39 points against a top-ten Florida team.

F: Yoeli Childs - BYU Cougars (second appearance)
Averaged 20.3 points and 9 rebounds over three games last week, and won a game with a dunk.

Power Rankings

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-1)
Last week: W 86-59 vs. Ohio State, L (2OT) 111-115 vs. No. 7 Florida, W (OT) 76-71 vs. Texas (OT)
This week: 11/29 vs. Incarnate Word, 12/1 vs. Creighton
Previous: Second

The Zags played three games against power conference opponents in the PK80 and went 2-1. That one loss came in double overtime against a top-10 Florida Gators squad, which is about as good of a loss as possible. While their overall performance was positive, the Zags still showed there’s room for improvement. It took a breakout performance from Rui Hachimura (20 points) to avoid disaster in what was a rather ugly second half. Gonzaga turned the ball over on 29.1% of possessions against Texas, their worst performance in that regard since coughing it up on 29.4% of possessions in a second round NCAA Tournament loss to Arizona in 2014.

2. San Diego Toreros (5-0)
Last week: W 66-52 vs. Little Rock, W 72-62 at Grand Canyon
This week: 11/30 vs. San Diego State, 12/2 at UC Santa Barbara
Previous: Fourth

Off to their best start since 2014, the Toreros are the WCC’s last undefeated team. And now they’ve got a road win against a decent Grand Canyon team on their resume. We’ll find out just how real this team is this week when they host San Diego State. What we know for sure is that San Diego was criminally undervalued in the preseason. Isaiah Wright (14.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.2 apg) and Isaiah Pineiro (13.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) have been immediate impact transfers. Wright is making a very strong case for WCC Newcomer of the Year as the junior from Utah has the Toreros’ offense humming. He’s assisted on 44.7% of San Diego’s baskets while on the floor.

3. Saint Mary’s Gaels (5-2)
Last week: W 89-75 vs. Harvard, L 84-79 vs. Washington State, L (OT) 83-81 vs. Georgia
This week: 12/2 at California
Previous: First

Saint Mary’s lost to Washington State on a neutral court. Washington State hadn’t defeated a KenPom top-50 team since January 2015. Washington State is bad. Like, maybe the worst program from a power conference. But they beat Saint Mary’s. How? Saint Mary’s defense isn’t that good, and it’s highly dependent on their slow tempo. The Gaels gamble that the combination of an elite offense and limited possessions will lead to a victory. But when the team they’re playing is hitting shots, that gamble doesn’t pay off. Washington State showed us that on Friday, and Georgia showed it again on Sunday.

4. BYU Cougars (4-2)
Last week: W 95-88 vs. Niagara, L 71-59 vs. No. 25 Alabama, W 68-66 vs. UMass
This week: 11/29 at Utah Valley, 12/2 at Utah State
Previous: Third

Last week went as expected. BYU took care of Niagara at home and snuck past UMass in Brooklyn, but fell to a ranked Crimson Tide team. Next week brings two trips to in-state rivals. Neither team is on the national radar, so picking up wins won’t make waves nationally but it could do a lot for team morale. The Cougars have the talent to be good, they’re just not quite there yet.

5. San Francisco Dons (3-1)
Last week: W 78-55 vs. Sonoma State
This week: 11/28 vs. UC Santa Barbara
Previous: Fifth

It’s the third straight week that San Francisco sits in fifth place. The Dons have been perfectly middling this season. Even if they hadn’t dropped the season opener to Long Beach State, their resume would be bland. They’ve not left home yet, and they’re in the middle of a two week stretch with just two games. Last week’s victory came against a non-Division I opponent. There’s honestly nothing to see here. Which, considering how poorly almost every other team in the league is fairing, might not be too bad.

6. Pacific Tigers (3-4)
Last week: W 83-71 at Air Force, W 78-69 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, L 85-78 vs. Texas Southern, W 80-57 vs. Canisius
This week: 11/30 at UC Riverside, 12/3 vs. Arkansas-Fort Smith
Previous: Eighth

A 3-1 record last week brings the Tigers close to .500 after their brutal start to the season. Air Force might not catch your eye this year, but a 12 point road win is always impressive. The Tigers have scored over one point per possession in all but one game this season, including the last five straight. That’s a considerable improvement on the offensive end from last season.

7. Loyola Marymount Lions (3-2)
Last week: W 91-87 vs. Incarnate Word, L 68-48 at Boise State
This week: 11/28 vs. Cal State Los Angeles, 12/2 at Oregon State
Previous: Sixth

Here’s a telling stat: A quarter of the Lions’ points this season have come from the free throw line. It’s even higher in their wins this year. Of their 91 points against Incarnate Word, 30 came from the charity stripe. The Lions can’t shoot. They can get to the rack, but they can’t shoot.

8. Pepperdine Waves (2-4)
Last week: W 80-76 vs. Oral Roberts, L 81-65 at Texas A&M
This week: 11/29 vs. Southern Utah, 12/2 at Cal Poly
Previous: Ninth

The Waves have just one win against a D1 team, and it came by just four points, but that’s better than any team ranked below them. On the plus side, they scored 65 points against one of the nation’s best defenses in Texas A&M.

9. Portland Pilots (2-4)
Last week: L 102-78 vs. No. 9 North Carolina, L 93-71 vs. Oklahoma, L 82-69 vs. DePaul
This week: 11/30 vs. Multnomah, 12/3 at Boise State
Previous: 10th

Portland’s played a Portland State team that played Duke tough, the defending national champions, a quality Big 12 team and a team lucky enough to be in the Big East. The Pilots have also played two non-D1 teams, and face another this week. Then they travel to a good Boise State team. They’ve yet to face a team close to their level.

10. Santa Clara Broncos (1-5)
Last week: L 69-59 vs. Idaho, L (OT) 76-73 at Alaska-Anchorage, L 73-59 vs. Sam Houston State
This week: 11/30 vs. Northern Arizona, 12/2 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Previous: Seventh

Two weeks ago the Broncos sat in fourth place. Now they’re on a five game losing streak, which includes a loss to non-D1 Alaska-Anchorage, and winless against D1 competition this season. They’ve scored over 1 point per possession in just two games this season, the two games against non-D1 teams.