The Tigers have climbed steadily from seventh place back in December. Can they break into the top three? This week will be telling. Saint Mary’s visits Gonzaga on Thursday before traveling to take on Pacific in Stockton.
1. Saint Mary’s Gaels (17-2, 6-0 WCC)
Last week: W 81-57 at Santa Clara, W 91-67 at Pepperdine
This week: 1/18 at Gonzaga, 1/20 at Pacific
Saint Mary’s is riding a 12-game winning streak and is tied, as of press time, with Purdue for the most wins in the nation. They’re back in the also receiving votes section of the AP Poll for the first time since November. The Gaels went on the road twice last week and took care of business against two of the league’s worst teams. They’ve got a considerably tougher road test coming up on Thursday, when they travel to Spokane to take on Gonzaga. A win in that one would be the Gaels’ best of the season, good enough to make up for their complete lack of quality wins to date.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (16-3, 6-0)
Last week: W 103-57 vs. Portland, W 75-65 at San Francisco
This week: 1/18 vs. Saint Mary’s, 1/20 at Santa Clara
The Zags faced their first test of the conference season last Saturday in San Francisco, and walked out of War Memorial with a 10-point win. Not quite a 46-point blowout over the Pilots, but a win nonetheless. Their toughest test since facing Villanova back in December comes Thursday against arch-rival Saint Mary’s. The Gaels own the best offensive rating in the WCC this season (124.0), but since the start of conference play the Zags have posted an offensive rating of 128.7.
3. BYU Cougars (15-4, 4-2)
Last week: W 83-63 vs. Pepperdine, W 84-50 at Santa Clara
This week: 1/18 vs. Loyola Marymount, 1/20 vs. San Diego
Sophomore shooting guard Zac Seljaas made his way back into the starting lineup on Thursday, and the Cougars have gone 2-0 since. Before going on his LDS mission, Seljaas made 66 three pointers as a freshman, which ranks second all-time among freshmen in BYU history. On Saturday he matched his season high with 11 points as the Cougars blew out the Broncos. BYU has two great scorers in Yoeli Childs (17.9 points per game) and Elijah Bryant (17.7), but need more support from guys like Seljaas.
4. Pacific Tigers (9-10, 4-2)
Last week: W 74-70 vs. San Diego, W 66-54 at Portland
This week: 1/18 vs. Pepperdine, 1/20 vs. Saint Mary’s
It took just three weeks for the Tigers to face all four teams ahead of them in the standings. So that 4-2 record is incredibly impressive. Damon Stoudamire’s team has taken down BYU and San Diego, along with LMU and Portland, while losing only to Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. They’ve got another shot at the Gaels this Saturday, this time in Stockton.
5. San Diego Toreros (13-5, 4-2)
Last week: 74-70 at Pacific, W 75-71 vs. Loyola Marymount
This week: 1/18 vs. Portland, 1/20 at BYU
This was bound to happen. The Toreros got off to their best start in the program’s Div. I history, but now they’ve dropped two of their past three games. Two weeks ago on the road against Saint Mary’s was respectable. But last Thursday against Pacific was unexpected. As was their slim margin of victory over LMU in Jenny Craig Pavilion. Is this simply a rough patch? We’ll see this week, as the Toreros get a bottom-dwelling Pilots squad on Thursday before traveling to an aspirational BYU team Saturday.
6. San Francisco Dons (10-9, 2-4)
Last week: L 67-65 at Loyola Marymount, L 75-65 vs. Gonzaga
This week: 1/18 vs. Santa Clara, 1/20 vs. Pepperdine
Somebody tell me which team should be sixth in my #WCChoops Power Rankings. San Francisco, Santa Clara and LMU all in the mix and none of them deserve it. Help. First reply wins.— Will Maupin (@WillsWCCblog) January 16, 2018
So, here we are. San Francisco managed a respectable 10-point loss at home against Gonzaga despite being without their second leading scorer, Chase Foster.
7. Loyola Marymount Lions (6-11, 1-5)
Last week: W 67-65 vs. San Francisco, L 75-71 at San Diego
This week: 1/18 at BYU, 1/20 vs. Portland
The Lions took down sixth-ranked San Francisco at home last Thursday for their first, and only, win of the conference season. They nearly picked off San Diego, too. But they didn’t, and are 1-5 in WCC play.
8. Santa Clara Broncos (6-12, 3-3)
Last week: L 81-57 vs. Saint Mary’s, L 84-50 vs. BYU
This week: 1/18 at San Francisco, 1/20 vs. Gonzaga
Santa Clara’s three conference wins have come against Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and Portland. In all three games against better teams the Broncos have been blown out. Like Saturday, when BYU won by 34. Or Thursday, when Saint Mary’s won by 24. Or back on Dec. 30 when Gonzaga won by 49. Oof.
9. Portland Pilots (6-13, 0-6)
Last week: L 103-57 at Gonzaga, L 66-54 vs. Pacific
This week: 1/18 at San Diego, 1/20 at Loyola Marymount
The Pilots haven’t won in conference play, but they haven’t really looked awful. Well, except for that 46-point loss to Gonzaga last week.
10. Pepperdine Waves (3-15, 0-6)
Last week: L 83-63 at BYU, L 91-67 vs. Saint Mary’s
This week: 1/18 at Pacific, 1/20 at San Francisco
The Waves haven’t won since Dec. 5. They’ve used 10 different starting lineups, because of injuries this season.