One Team All Green

WAC Power Rankings – Jan. 23, 2019

Clark Clifford - UVU Athletics

Another week closer to #WACVegas. What could be more exciting? There wasn’t a ton of drama in the third week of WAC hoops. Perhaps both games at Cal State Bakersfield could be considered dramatic. But, New Mexico State solidified itself as the frontrunner. GCU is keeping pace with the Aggies, setting up a potentially huge showdown in the desert on Feb. 9. CSU Bakersfield continues to win in some really strange ways. Just ask UMKC. Seattle is still winless in the WAC. And UTRGV is tied with NMSU for the most conference road wins. Who would have thought? So, let’s look at this week’s power rankings.

1.  NM State

The Aggies did what they couldn’t do in 2018 and that was beat both UVU and Seattle on the road. Eli Chuha earned WAC Player of the Week honors for averaging 16.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in the two contests. And, NM State is hitting free throws. The loss at Cal Baptist to start WAC play is looking more and more like a fluke. NM State has now beat GCU, CSU Bakersfield, UVU and Seattle. The Aggies should be 8-1 going into GCU on Feb. 9 in what will be a battle for first place in the WAC.

2. Grand Canyon

Technically, at 5-1 in the WAC, GCU is in first place, tied with CSU Bakersfield. The lone loss came on a buzzer beater at New Mexico State. Dan Majerle has his team playing at a high level and there were no dramatics for the ‘Lopes in week three. GCU beat Chicago State and UMKC by an average of 31 points. Carlos Johnson is showing that he is one of the best players in the league. And, GCU is showing why many considered it a favorite to win the WAC this season. It is still three weeks away but that Feb. 9 home game against NM State may determine the WAC regular season champion.

3. CSU Bakersfield

Yes, the ‘Runners sit atop the WAC standings. And, yes, there is something strange that happens late in games in the Icardo Center. Just ask UVU and UMKC. On Thursday, Jarkell Joiner got fouled on a 3-point attempt as time was expiring. Joiner hit all three free throws and the ‘Runners walked away with a win. And then, CSU Bakersfield had to come back late to beat Chicago State on Saturday. The ‘Runners will come back to earth when they play a good portion of the second half on the road. But, Rod Barnes is just doing his thing and has the ‘Runners right in the mix of the WAC race.

4. Utah Valley

A few plays here and there and that 23rd straight home win happens. Unfortunately, outside of Jake Toolson, the Wolverines struggled down the stretch against NM State. But, despite all that, UVU is still right in the mix of things. Depth is a question mark with Connor MacDougall out for six weeks after surgery on his hand. But, little-known Richard Harward has stepped in and made a huge contribution to this team. If the Wolverines get MacDougall back prior to the WAC tournament, watch out. The Wolverines are dangerous and New Mexico State nearly felt that on Saturday night.

5. UTRGV

Who is tied for the league-lead in road wins? Yep, UTRGV, that’s who. The Vaqueros got blown out by UVU on Thursday but went up and won at Seattle on Saturday night. There is athleticism and ability on Lew Hill’s squad. And the full-court pressure can wreak some havoc. UTRGV has played three of its first five conference games on the road. And its reward? The Vaqueros get to host New Mexico State on Saturday night. Another big test for UTRGV.

6. UMKC

Heading into the third weekend, UMKC was the lone undefeated team in the WAC. And now? The ‘Roos came back to earth with losses at CSU Bakersfield and at Grand Canyon. Although, UMKC does have a bone to pick considering a late call at Bakersfield was pretty questionable. Kareem Richardson has his young team holding strong. But, getting blown out at GCU on Saturday shows how far this team still has to go to climb the mountain with the big boys of the conference.

7. California Baptist

The Lancers had the week off and got to see the rest of the WAC beat up on each other. A very interesting stretch of games begins on Thursday for California Baptist. The Lancers host CSU Bakersfield and then Grand Canyon on Saturday. Then, CBU has to travel to Utah Valley and Seattle the following weekend. Not the easiest stretch of games by any means. But, if you don’t come ready to play at the CBU Events Center, the Lancers will make you pay. Just ask New Mexico State.

8. Seattle University

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Redhawks. A home loss against UTRGV. Really? But that is the state of Seattle U basketball right now. Injuries are hampering the Redhawks with Matej Kavas out for about six weeks. Myles Carter has been battling injuries and Seattle just hasn’t found its rhythm. But, playing three of its first five WAC games on the road and playing four of the top five teams in the conference can make things difficult, too. 

9. Chicago State

I said it following Saturday night and I will say it again: Chicago State is going to in a game that is going to shock us all. The Cougars nearly had a chance against CSU Bakersfield but couldn’t hold on late. Lance Irvin’s team has been competitive in all but one game so far in the WAC season. And, I truly believe this Chicago State team will not go winless in WAC play this season. 

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