WAC Hoops Power Rankings: Dec. 8, 2009

8 Dec

For week two, there’s been a few things shaken up and a new team has found its way to the bottom of the list.

All stat links go to Basketball State — it’s far and away the best hoops stats Web site around and the $16 subscription is well worth it. Use promo code DREAMHOSTSUCKS to sign up. (Yeah, they had some hosting issues earlier.)

1. Idaho, 5-2 (1) — A split for the week is par for the course in the WAC, and the Vandals’ stunning demolition of No. 25 Portland on Sunday is far and away the best win in the conference. Still, Idaho has to prove it can be consistent — the stifling effort against Portland came after a horrible defensive night at Northridge — and tomorrow’s game against red-hot Washington State will be a huge test. WSU transfer Mac Hopson would love to finish his Idaho career with a win over the Cougars. Saturday will provide a bit of a rest with cupcake Eastern Oregon coming to town.

2. Utah State, 4-3 (3) — Last week was a time of great joy and great pain for the Aggies. Stew’s crew upended rival BYU in an electric Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, but then had their 37-game home winning streak snapped by red-hot Saint Mary’s. Utah State is still searching for scoring firepower lost when Gary Wilkinson graduated and depth lost with Stavon Williams’ transfer. The good news? They get most of this week off before hosting a terrible Utah Valley squad — that win should seal the Aggies’ umpteenth Old Oquirrh Bucket crown.

3. Louisiana Tech, 7-1 (5) — They haven’t beaten a single Top 100 RPI team and in their only game against a quality squad (at New Mexico) they were crushed, but the Gulf Coast Bulldogs have the best record in the conference and that has to count for something. Last week, ULM and Northwestern State were the Bulldogs’ victims. Tomorrow’s road throwdown at Arizona will provide a key datapoint in the WAC’s current burning question: is Louisiana Tech for real? They finish the week out with another palooka, Centenary.

4. San Jose State, 3-3 (4) — OK, so beating Utah Valley on the road isn’t exactly a signature win, but it’s more than Nevada did last week. Are the Spartans really this good? Probably not, but this isn’t about who’s going to be the best in March — it’s about what have you done for me lately? San Jose State’s won. With another winnable road game today at woeful San Francisco and a homecoming tomorrow against Cal State-Bakersfield — one of the worst teams in the country — the record should get gaudier. Unfortunately, their sky-high RPI will also come back down to Earth.

5. Nevada, 2-4 (2) — Well, like we said last week, there’s no depth in Reno. There may be some kind of curse in Stockton, with the Wolf Pack losing at Pacific for the zillionth time, but with every passing game it gets clearer and clearer that playing Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson every minute of every game isn’t sustainable. And it only gets worse from here on out, with hellacious travel being the rule of thumb in the WAC. Nevada gets two gift-wrapped wins at home this week — Fresno Pacific and South Dakota State — so at last the Pack’s big two should get some rest.

6. Boise State, 4-3 (6) — We can’t justify moving the Broncos up after losing to Illinois, but they showed a lot of fight on the road against a quality Big Ten team and Ike Okoye kept showing his awesomeness inside. Coming out from under the shadow of the blue turf, Boise State has a pair of eminently winnable games. First up tomorrow, a roadie at Idaho State, then a Saturday showdown with reeling San Diego. If the Broncos can’t pull off a sweep this week, they’ll continue to look like a team yet to find itself.

7. Fresno State, 3-4 (8) — Signs of progress in the West Coast Bulldogs camp? Fresno State fans are certainly hoping so, after a 69-37 beatdown of San Diego (albeit with the Toreros lacking their leading scorer). But the week’s other game — an uncompetitive loss to Pacific — says Steve Cleveland’s crew still has a ways to go before their undeniable basketball talent is molded into a consistently winning team. Today the Bulldogs travel to a mediocre Pepperdine before a Saturday home showdown with their greatest challenge yet: BYU.

8. Hawaii, 3-4 (9) — There’s not much to cheer about in Honolulu right now, what with football’s bowl hopes crushed and the hoops team seeming to collapse into a black hole of suck. But the Rainbow Warriors split their week — losing at UC Irvine and beating the awful Lamar Cardinals — and that’s more than the last-place team can say. Two more cupcakes at home — Chaminade and Chicago State — should help their record, but will they do anything to get Hawaii ready for a ridiculously deep and talented conference season? Sources say no.

9. New Mexico State, 2-5 (7) — The Crimson Aggies have knocked Hawaii out of last place. Unbelievable. But with just one win against a Division I school and a passel of ugly losses that keep getting worse, how can anyone justify putting them higher? Last week featured a 21-point home beatdown by UTEP and a 17-point thrashing at New Mexico. Marvin Menzies’ squad gets most of this week off to lick their wounds, but they’ll be facing the Miners again on Sunday, this time in El Paso. Just keeping it close would be something of a win.

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10 Responses to “WAC Hoops Power Rankings: Dec. 8, 2009”

  1. Patrick H December 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    The four games Nevada lost are all road games to opponents that Pomeroy and Sagarin both rank higher than anyone Idaho has played all season.

    I think you and Murray are both jumping the gun with these big drops in WAC ranking, but I guess we’ll see later this season. I like cheering on an underdog Pack.

  2. Travis Mason-Bushman December 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Losses are losses, and I watched that Pacific game. Nevada should have beaten the Tigers soundly, but there’s nothing left in the Pack’s tank at the end of games. And that was on almost a week of rest.

    OK, so the Pack get brownie points for playing tough foes on the road. But they didn’t win any of them, so… here’s a gold star sticker that says “I Played?” Not winning them all I can understand, but getting blanked in the only four non-con road games Nevada will play in the preseason? That’s nothing to celebrate.

    Now there’s four palookas in a row at home, which will prove… absolutely nothing. Hopefully it’ll help develop the bench.

    If the Pack can win their neutral game against BYU, they’ll have a case to make for top two.

  3. Patrick H December 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    That’s not my point at all. I’m saying that if other WAC teams go out on the road and play these games they’d be seeing the same results. Road games vs top 80 teams are tough to win for anybody. But I’d love to see some of these teams go on the road vs UNLV, UNC, VCU and yes, even Pacific and win a few games before I’m sold. SJSU? they beat Pacific at home in a close game, sure. What else have they done? They lost to UC Riverside for heaven’s sake.

  4. Travis Mason-Bushman December 8, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    SJSU lost by 10 at Washington, and only 7 to Saint Mary’s at home. Riverside’s is 104 in the RPI. So the Spartans’ losses aren’t bad at all.

    The Pacific win is miles better than anything Nevada has – both Montana State and Houston are sub-200 teams.

    Here’s the NCAA Tournament selection sheet.

    http://www.bbstate.com/schools/NEV/sheet

    Yes, there’s four top-100 RPI games, but all are flagged bright red — losses.

    I forgot Nevada plays Portland at home, so there’s three more quality win opportunities for the Wolf Pack, two neutral and one home.

  5. Travis Mason-Bushman December 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Well, um, SJSU decided it really didn’t like me, and wanted to prove that I was wrong for trusting them. They just lost to USF by shooting like 30 percent in the second half.

    So, uh, barring catastrophic disaster from the Wolf Pack this week at home, looks like Nevada will be moving up at least one in next week’s rankings.

  6. Don Quixote December 9, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    “Red hot Washington State”??? Hardly. Losing their last two games is not red-hot no matter who the competition is.

  7. Jesse December 9, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    NMSU is struggling but we’ll see what happens in WAC play with the clearance of B.J. West and the hopefull return of Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater. Enjoy your time in the sun Idaho. You guys are good but lets not get too cocky. You still have to beat proven programs with rich tradition (New Mexico State, Utah St. and Nevada) in March when it counts. Have fun!

  8. Travis Mason-Bushman December 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Yeah, fair enough Don Quixote, I should have said “red-hot shooting,” which they generally have been.

  9. Patrick H December 9, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    I’m a fan of BBState but it’s a bit early to look at the Selection Sheet to determine a ranking in the WAC IMHO. Nevada has the #2 SOS according to RPI (9th Pomeroy) and Idaho the 280th ranked SOS by RPI (236th Pomeroy).

    It looks like Idaho is getting a taste of what it’s like to play a decent team on the road in Pullman tonight. And WSU is ranked lower in RPI and by Pomeroy than any of the teams Nevada lost to. Sagarin has them ranked 3 spots higher than Pacific. And Pullman is what, a half hour from Moscow? That’s barely a road game.

    Things look wide open in the WAC. But Nevada will not finish 5th.

    And I love your work. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I just don’t agree with the ranking.

  10. Travis Mason-Bushman December 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    This is a power ranking based on results to date — not a prediction of how the WAC will finish.

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