One Team All Green

WAC Power Rankings – Jan. 16, 2018

Clark Clifford - UVU Athletics

Wild weekends are becoming a norm in the Western Athletic Conference. The same can be said about hitting half court, buzzer beating shots. Just ask New Mexico State’s Johnny McCants or Chicago State’s Anthony Harris. So, with that, let’s take a look at this week’s WAC Power Rankings.

1.  New Mexico State

Take down the top two teams in the conference standings and see what happens. That’s what New Mexico State did over the weekend. The Aggies had a prayer answered when Johnny McCants’ half court heave found the bottom of the net against Grand Canyon. And on Saturday, NMSU used free throw shooting to help them upend Cal State Bakersfield. The road gets a little tougher, though. NM State goes to Seattle on Thursday night and then UVU on Saturday. Two places that the Aggies lost a season ago. 

2. Grand Canyon

The ‘Lopes went into Las Cruces and nearly pulled one off. It was a heavyweight battle but unfortunately it just didn’t fall GCU’s way. Two nights later, Damari Milstead and company used a late second half surge to beat UTRGV in Edinburg. The ‘Lopes are playing well and are back at home this weekend against UMKC and Chicago State. 

3. Cal State Bakersfield

About the only thing to say about this CSU Bakersfield team is they need to stop fouling. It is what cost them a win at New Mexico State. The Aggies made 21 free throws. CSU Bakersfield only shot 11 free throw attempts. Rod Barnes has this team playing at a high level. The ‘Runners should be 5-1 in WAC play after this weekend as they host Chicago State and UMKC. 

4. Utah Valley

21 straight home wins. An unknown player having a double-double to help stave off a pesky Seattle team. And a floor leader who can take over games. Seems like a good recipe for success. Utah Valley needed a win over Seattle in a HUGE way and got it. Now, the Wolverines host UTRGV on Thursday and NM State on Saturday. Could the home winning streak end this weekend? Maybe, maybe not. But, the fact remains that UVU plays well on its home floor, even when it falls behind by 20 points in the first half. It is kind of a statement weekend for the Wolverines.

5. UMKC

The ‘Roos are the only undefeated team in WAC play. Yes, you read that right. Who would have thought? UMKC beat Chicago State and Cal Baptist to start conference play. But, now the true test begins with a trip to Phoenix and to Bakersfield. Can Kareem Richardson’s group keep it rolling? Xavier Bishop, Jordan Giles and company have something to prove and this weekend could be a big stepping stone for the ‘Roos.

6. California Baptist

The win one game lose one game each weekend might be the trend for the Lancers. Rick Croy has done an amazing job with CBU in the first year of Division I competition. California Baptist boasts potentially a WAC Player of the Year candidate in Milan Acquaah. However, Acquaah was shut down by both UMKC and Chicago State this past week, so it remains to be seen what he does the rest of the conference season. The Lancers have the week off before hosting GCU and Cal State Bakersfield. But, this team is exciting and found a way to beat New Mexico State so that stands for something, right?

7. Seattle University

Imagine opening conference play against three of the top five teams in the conference. And then imagine doing it all on the road. If that wasn’t difficult enough, imagine two of your leading scorers battling injury in the process. That’s what Jim Hayford and his Seattle Redhawks have had to go through in the first two weeks of WAC play. The only reason I give California Baptist the nod over Seattle is because CBU has a conference win under its belt. Seattle is dangerous as it showed on Saturday at Utah Valley. And now the Redhawks are back home to host UTRGV. I expect Seattle to get at least one win, if not two over the weekend. 

8. UTRGV

Remember the scene in ‘Cool Runnings’ when the Jamaican bobsled team blew their first run in the Olympics? Irv Blitzer scolded his team…”you had your chance and you blew it. You choked.” Well, unfortunately, for UTRGV that was how the weekend went. Two home games in a statement weekend. And the Vaqueros fell short in both games against CSU Bakersfield and GCU. Now, things get even more difficult with a trip to UVU and then to Seattle. In hindsight a road win is always good. But, that road win at California Baptist seems like a long time ago.

9. Chicago State

One day, Lance Irvin and his Chicago State Cougars are going to win some games they probably shouldn’t. Unfortunately, it’s just not right now. 

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