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Big West Power Rankings: Strong Week Lifts Gauchos To The Top

The UCSB Gauchos, after impressive home wins over both UC Davis and UC Irvine, find themselves atop our Power Rankings a week before the Big West Tournament.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (16-12, 9-5), Last Week: 3

UC Santa Barbara only lost one game in the month of February. It came on the road against UC Riverside and just happened to be the first game back from injury for Alan Williams. With a now healthy Williams, the Gauchos have looked unstoppable, knocking off the top two teams in the rankings -- UC Davis and UC Irvine -- in the same week. Williams has put up four straight double-doubles since returning from his shoulder injury. Watch out Big West: there is no sign of the Gauchos slowing their roll anytime soon.

2. UC Davis Aggies (22-5, 12-2), LW: 1

The Aggies drop to No. 2 because of their 14-point loss to UC Santa Barbara, and because UCSB is just too hot right now. Even their seat atop the standings -- a spot that they will likely maintain into the Big West Tournament -- is not enough. The Aggies finish the regular season at home where they are undefeated this season (12-0). That home court advantage will not help the Aggies in postseason play though with the Big West Tournament down in Anaheim. Davis will look to use its hot shooting to continue its effectiveness.

3. UC Irvine Anteaters (17-11, 10-4), LW: 2

UC Irvine is slowly returning to its winning form, with a healthy Mamadou Ndiaye back along side player of the year candidate, Will Davis II. Last year's Big West Conference regular season champions and preseason favorites struggled early in the season with Ndiaye's absence, but are slowly gaining their confidence back. Also back but not yet at 100 percent is junior guard Alex Young, who missed four games with an ankle sprain. UC Irvine with Ndiaye and Young both back in the lineup look to finish out the season in a winning fashion.

4. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (19-11, 7-7), LW: 7

Hawaii is starting to click as a team and it's scary. Hawaii went 4-3 in the month of February, and in the four wins won by an average of 15 points. The Rainbow Warriors blew out Long Beach State at home by 19 points, proving they can contend in the Big West Tournament. Hawaii has a chance to avenge its loss to UCSB, a game where it blew a 13-point lead and lost by one. The Warriors host those Gauchos on Wednesday and it will be UCSB with the jet lag.

5. Long Beach State 49ers (14-16, 8-6), LW: 4

Long Beach State finished February having gone just 2-5, and having lost five in a row before breaking that streak against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. In that win, Long Beach State looked like a different team. Michael Caffey finally seemed to have found his shooting touch and Travis Hammonds led all scorers in his first start of the season with 16 points. Long Beach State is a team that definitely has the talent to do some damage in the Big West Tournament. Fans will just have to wait and see if they can get it together.

6. UC Riverside Highlanders (14-14, 7-7), LW: 5

UC Riverside scored two big home wins in February, defeating UCSB and UC Irvine, but ended the month just 4-3. The Highlanders have struggled to be consistent, including struggling against the worst team in the Big West and needing extra minutes to put them away. Add in a loss an ugly 7-point loss to Cal State Northridge. UC Riverside relies heavily on the scoring duo of Taylor Johns and Jaylen Bland. If either has an off night, any team can beat UC Riverside, however, if they get hot, the Highlanders can knock off any team in the Big West. That means there is hope for a run in the conference tournament for Highlanders fan.

7. Cal Poly Mustangs (13-14, 6-9), LW: 6

Two of Cal Poly's three wins in February came against Fullerton and Northridge, which is not a good sign. Part of the reason for the down month was the lack of David Nwaba on the floor, who missed four games with mono. With a healthy Nwaba, maybe Cal Poly can repeat its Big West Tournament success from last season when they went from a 7-seed to the NCAA Tournament. It is still possible that the Mustangs matchup against UC Santa Barbara, a rematch of last year's opening round game, where Cal Poly won in an upset by 31.

8. CS-Northridge Matadors (9-22, 4-11), LW: 8

Cal State Northridge has won back-to-back games to cement the 8-seed, but down from last year's fifth place finish. During their two-game winning streak, the Matadors have looked about as good as they possibly could. Unfortunately, Northridge is missing seven players, all whom are currently suspended from the team for varying reasons. The Matadors still have the talent to upset a team in the tournament. It would take some luck, but what upset doesn't.

9. Cal State Fullerton Titans (9-20, 1-12), LW: 9

Cal State Fullerton was eliminated from postseason play this week. The Titans struggled all year to get their offense and defense to both come together for a full 40 minutes. The focus has to be on next year for the Titans with two games remaining. Fullerton plays UC Irvine on the road, a seemingly impossible game to win. They do host Hawaii though in the last game of the season. With Hawaii's struggles on the mainland, maybe the Titans can send their six seniors off with a win to cap a dismal season.