West Coast basketball top-25 rankings: Pac-12 cannibalism continues

·15 min read

A lot of changes in the third week of the Top-25 West Coast college basketball power rankings. A pair of underperforming Pac-12 teams – Utah and Cal – get the boot, as it feels wrong to have .500 or sub-.500 teams ranked above high performing mid-major programs.

The Utes and Golden Bears aren’t the only two teams getting replaced, as the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV see their only week in the rankings end after losing to Air Force, and the Big West is no longer represented in the power rankings after UC-Irvine lost to Fullerton, bringing them to just 6-6 on the season.

Four new teams join the power rankings in their place – three coming from the up-and-coming WAC, and one new squad from the Pac-12.

Before we get in to the new additions, a few teams that just missed the cut: Weber State (13-5), LMU (9-7) and Arizona State (6-9) were all given consideration, but fell short of making the list for this week.

Now, on to the actual list, which had a major shakeup at the bottom but remained fairly consistent at the top – although the top-five has been altered after struggles from some of the Pac-12’s elite programs.

Seattle University Redhawks (Last Week: UR)

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

League: WAC

Record: 14-4

KenPom: 149

SeattleU hasn’t been a relevant basketball school since Elgin Baylor was there in the 1950’s, but the Redhawks are 14-4 and a perfect 5-0 in conference play, so they get the nod here.

They haven’t won any significant games just yet, with Utah Valley as their best win on the year, but losses to UW, UNLV, and Washington State are far from the worst either.

Tarleton State and Stephen F. Austin are coming up this week, and a date with Grand Canyon on February 3 will provide a really solid test for how legit this team is as a potential AQ from the Western Athletic Conference.

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (Last Week: UR)

Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal

League: WAC

Record: 12-6

KenPom: 129

The Lumberjacks earned their spot on this list primarily for kicking the boots off of Grand Canyon last week, winning by a score of 71-46. They played Kansas close in Kansas earlier this season, and have nice wins over Buffalo and Liberty as well, so it’s not completely a one-win resume.

The Lumberjacks have played spoiler in the NCAA tournament a handful of times recently, and this year’s team could do the same if they find a way to win the WAC outright. A win over New Mexico State on Saturday would be a nice start.

Washington Huskies (Last Week: UR)

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 9-7 (0-1 Last Week)

KenPom: 133

Certainly a bit of a surprise to see the Huskies sneak onto this list, but Washington is 9-7 on the year and 4-2 in conference play. They have won four of their last five games, including victories over Stanford, Oregon State, Cal, and Utah, so they are clearly out of the Pac-12 cellar at least for now.

Mike Hopkins and his team, led by guard Terrell Brown, face Oregon and Colorado this week. If they can keep the win streak alive, they’ll continue to climb in the rankings.

Utah Valley Wolverines (Last Week: UR)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

League: WAC

Record: 12-6

KenPom: 118

The Wolverines are only 3-3 in conference play, but they are 12-6 on the year with wins over BYU and Washington, so they are hard to ignore at the bottom of this list.

Lamar and Chicago State this week should afford them the opportunity to move up even more in the rankings, and will continue to help put star big man Fardaws Aimaq (19.5 points, 14 rebounds) on the map.

New Mexico State Aggies (Last Week: 19)

Syndication: Las Cruces Sun-News

League: WAC

Record: 15-3

KenPom: 113

The Aggies remain the favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference yet again this season, but a shockingly bad loss to Sam Houston State knocks them down a bit in our power rankings, and has them in an unfamiliar spot in the conference standings – third place, behind SeattleU and Sam Houston.

Teddy Allen and the team will likely bounce back and compete with the Antelopes of Grand Canyon for a shot at a 12-seed in the NCAA tournament, but this won’t be as easy for the Aggies as it has been in the past.

They have Stephen F. Austin and GCU this week.

Nevada Wolfpack (Last Week: 21)

Syndication: Reno Gazette Journal

League: Mountain West

Record: 9-7 (Last Week: 2-1)

KenPom: 107

Wyoming tore through three solid Mountain West opponents last week, including the Wolfpack of Nevada who are now just 9-7 on the year and 3-2 in conference play.

The Mountain West will certainly put a handful of teams into the NCAA tournament, but right now Nevada doesn’t look like one of them. Wins over Fresno State and Colorado State this week would help. A lot.

Grand Canyon Antelopes (Last Week: 20)

Syndication: Arizona Republic

League: WAC

Record: 14-3 (Last Week: 1-1)

KenPom: 108

Grand Canyon and Nevada were scheduled to play earlier this year but it was cancelled because of COVID – which is a bummer because it would have made deciding between these two teams in the rankings much easier.

The Lopes get the nod despite dropping a game to Stephen F. Austin this past week, putting their chances at winning the WAC outright in jeopardy. It is still probably a two-team race between them and the Aggies, although SeattleU is creeping up there.

Grand Canyon has 6-1 Sam Houston State on Saturday before their big matchup with the Aggies next week.

Stanford Cardinal (Last Week: 14)

Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 10-6 (Last Week: 0-2)

KenPom: 92

The Cardinal remain one of the streakiest teams in college hoops, going 2-0 two weeks ago with a nice win over USC; followed by an 0-2 performance this week which included losses to Washington and Arizona.

I don’t get the impression this Stanford team is good enough to make the NCAA tournament, but they are streaky enough to do some damage in the rest of the Pac-12 – starting with games against Arizona State and a rematch with USC this week.

Santa Clara Broncos (Last Week: 16)

Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

League: WCC

Record: 11-7 (Last Week: 0-2)

KenPom: 84

The Broncos ran into an absolute buzzsaw against Gonzaga last Saturday, and then fell in a very narrow contest to Saint Mary’s on Thursday.

Those losses solidified the Broncos’ spot just outside the “big four” teams in the West Coast Conference – Zags, Saint Mary’s, BYU, and San Francisco – although they are pretty clearly the best of the rest.

They get San Diego on Monday and then another big test on Thursday against BYU.

Utah State Aggies (Last Week: 15)

Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

League: Mountain West

Record: 10-9 (Last Week: 0-3)

KenPom: 73

Utah State only fell eight spots in KenPom despite going 0-3 last week, losing to Wyoming, Fresno State, and Boise State.

Part of the reason is because they were oh so close to going 2-1, falling to Wyoming and Boise State because of made shots with 3.3 and 1.4 seconds remaining, respectively.

Still, the losses all but dashed their hopes of making the NCAA Tournament this season, as they are now a pitiful 1-5 in conference play.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Aggies, as they take on San Diego State and Nevada this upcoming week.

Colorado Buffaloes (Last Week: 18)

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 12-5 (Last Week: 1-1)

KenPom: 83

Colorado nearly kept their winning streak against USC alive, but fell to the Trojans by a score of 61-58.

Now they get UCLA and Washington this week, a chance for Evan Battey and Jabari Walker to prove themselves on another national stage.

Fresno State Bulldogs (Last Week: 12)

Syndication: Reno Gazette Journal

League: Mountain West

Record: 13-5 (Last Week: 1-1)

KenPom: 57

The Bulldogs had their nice three-game winning streak snapped when they lost to Nevada on Friday evening. Prior to that, they had defeated San Jose State, UNLV, and Utah State.

They remain a tick above the middle of the pack in the Mountain West, but still a tick below the powerhouse teams at the top. Unless they make a big run in the Mountain West tournament, they are likely going to find themselves on the outside looking in for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

They face New Mexico and Boise State next.

Washington State Cougars (Last Week: 13)

Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 10-7 (Last Week: 1-0)

KenPom: 52

The Cougars of Washington State are currently on a COVID pause, but in the one game they did get through last week they defeated the Golden Bears, moving to 10-7 on the year and 3-3 in conference play.

Their two road games against the Oregon schools are postponed for right now, but they are hoping to be back in action against Utah on January 26.

Wyoming Cowboys (Last Week: 17)

Syndication: Arizona Republic

League: Mountain West

Record: 14-2 (Last Week: 3-0)

KenPom: 58

Wyoming returned from their COVID pause to rattle off three straight wins in Mountain West play, defeating Utah State, Nevada, and San Jose State while moving to 11-2 on the year.

Right now they are right in the mix at the top of a crowded Mountain West conference, with games against New Mexico and Boise State slated for this week.

Boise State Broncos (Last Week: 8)

Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

League: Mountain West

Record: 14-4 (Last Week: 3-0)

KenPom: 46

The Broncos are in the midst of a quiet 11-game winning streak, but fell a bit in KenPom’s ratings thanks to narrow victories over Utah State and New Mexico.

Still, this is the top team in the Mountain West standings at this moment, and while San Diego State and Colorado State get most of the attention this Boise State team is more than capable of being the automatic qualifier come March.

A 6:30 PM showdown on CBS Saturday with San Diego State will help fans determine which team is better at the moment.

Oregon Ducks (Last Week: 11)

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 11-6 (Last Week: 1-0)

KenPom: 51

The Ducks only played one game last week but it was a big one, securing a win over the Trojans of USC on Saturday.

They are now sporting a modest five-game winning streak after losing to the defending national champion Baylor Bears, and don’t resemble at all the team that lost to Arizona State, Stanford, and Saint Mary’s earlier this season.

They are set to take on Washington Sunday evening in Eugene, a chance to extend their win streak and break their tie in the standings.

San Francisco Dons (Last Week: 6)

Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

League: WCC

Record: 15-4 (Last Week: 0-2)

KenPom: 36

USF had a rough second week of conference play, dropping at the last second to BYU and then falling to No. 1 Gonzaga on Thursday.

They are still a stellar 15-4 on the year, and KenPom still ranks them within the top-40, but their case for an at-large bid really relies on them winning these big games against BYU/Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s, and they are not off to a great start.

They get Pepperdine on Saturday and then another chance at the big three with a game against the Gaels on Thursday.

Saint Mary's Gaels (Last Week: 9)

Syndication: The Coloradoan

League: WCC

Record: 14-4 (Last Week: 1-0)

KenPom: 34

Randy Bennett’s Saint Mary’s team squeaked away with a victory over the Broncos of Santa Clara last week, winning 73-65.

The Gaels still have some work to do offensively if they want to do any damage in March, but their defense is excellent and they have won the games they need to win to remain in at-large consideration.

Now they get a struggling LMU team on Saturday and a big bout with crosstown rival San Francisco next Thursday.

Colorado State Rams (Last Week: 10)

Syndication: The Coloradoan

League: Mountain West

Record: 14-1 (Last Week: 2-0)

KenPom: 42

The Rams rebounded from their big loss to San Diego State by rattling off three wins in a row over Utah State, San Jose State, and New Mexico.

It wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row of games, but still good to see this squad rebound instead of spiraling. David Roddy continues to be one of the best players in the country that no one is talking about, a story that will help them sneak up on teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Colorado State gets Air Force on Saturday morning, and will take on Nevada and UNLV later in the week

San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: 5)

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

League: Mountain West

Record: 10-3 (Last Week: 0-0)

KenPom: 33

The Aztecs were unable to carry momentum after defeating Colorado State, losing their games against Wyoming and UNLV to a COVID pause.

Even though Boise State is atop the standings, it feels like the conference is going to come down to the Rams and Aztecs, and I doubt it will be determined by 30 points the second time around.

San Diego State is slated to play the Broncos on Saturday, assuming they are able to go.

USC Trojans (Last Week: 4)

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 15-2 (Last Week: 1-1)

KenPom: 26

The Trojans fell victim to a red-hot Oregon team last weekend, but managed to rebound from the loss to break a six-game losing streak to Colorado – sending them to a 15-2 record on the year and 5-2 in Pac-12 play.

Coach Andy Enfield’s squad hasn’t run into a ton of great teams this season, and that will continue this week when they are set to play Utah, Arizona State, and Stanford.

Anything less than a 3-0 record would be a disappointment for a team who is hoping to get back to the Elite 8.

BYU Cougars (Last Week: 7)

Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

League: WCC

Record: 16-4 (Last Week: 2-0)

KenPom: 24

BYU secured a two point victory over San Francisco when Jamaree Bouyea’s last second shot rimmed out, a big win for a team that has plenty of competition in the WCC this year, not just Gonzaga.

Alex Barcello is perhaps the best pure shooter in the country, but the Cougars lack size in the frontcourt following Gavin Baxter’s season-ending injury a few weeks ago. They already got their bell rung by the Zags last week, so they’ll need to avoid too many more losses in conference play if they want a nice seed in March.

Mark Pope’s team will play Portland and Santa Clara this upcoming week.

UCLA Bruins (Last Week: 3)

Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 12-2 (Last Week: 2-0)

KenPom: 12

It wasn’t pretty, but the Bruins pulled off a victory against a struggling Utah squad to finish off the week and move to 12-2 on the season – a season that has had many COVID frustrations.

Still, despite the setbacks, Mick Cronin’s squad is a top-10 team in the country in mid-January – which is far from the worst place to be.

They’ll take on Colorado Saturday before finally playing a highly anticipated matchup against Arizona on Tuesday.

Arizona Wildcats (Last Week: 2)

Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

League: Pac-12

Record: 15-1 (Last Week: 2-0)

KenPom: 3

Tommy Lloyd’s Wildcats keep on chugging, as they now sit with a 15-1 record on the season after defeating Utah and Stanford last week.

Behind Benn Mathurin’s breakout campaign, and nice years from Christian Koloko and Azuolas Tubelis, this team looks poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this March.

Their big matchup against UCLA on Tuesday should get a lot more eyes on this team’s fun brand of basketball.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: 1)

Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

League: WCC

Record: 15-2 (Last Week: 2-0)

KenPom: 1

Gonzaga dropped 100+ points for the third game in a row against the Broncos on Thursday, but the streak came to an end in a much tougher matchup against San Francisco on Thursday.

Chet Holmgren proved why he is one of the most electric players in college hoops this week, dropping 22 points with nine rebounds and four blocks against the Dons.

Now, the Zags are off on Saturday but will get LMU and Portland next week as they look to remain the No. 1 team in the AP Poll for another week.

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