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.
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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.