For the top few teams in the West Coast Conference, this past week was one they'd probably like to do over. Saint Mary's took the biggest hit of all with the Gaels picking up their first three losses of the season on consecutive nights in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Things went south for Saint Mary's in the first game of the Diamond Head Classic with the Gaels losing to South Carolina (3-6) by a score of 78-71 Sunday night. The next night the Gaels would fall 76-74 to Hawaii (8-3) on a last second shot by the Rainbow Warriors' Christian Standhardinger. The Gaels dropped their third game of the week last night in a 65-63 loss to George Mason (6-6). With the conference season up next, Saint Mary's will now lose coach Randy Bennett to a five-game suspension for previous recruiting violations. This presents a difficult challenge to the Gaels, who's first three conference games are on the road against three of the top five teams in our rankings (Pacific, Gonzaga, and Portland).
Once again, BYU had itself in a position to knock of a ranked opponent and came up just short in a heartbreaking overtime loss to 12th-ranked Oregon (11-0). We've seen this storyline from the Cougars several times already this season and while they definitely remain a strong contender in the WCC, BYU inability to pull out victories against the best teams on its schedule could come back to hurt the Cougars when it comes to their hopes of a birth and good seeding in the NCAA Tournament. BYU kicks off conference play on the road at Loyola Marymount this Saturday and then at Pepperdine on Monday.
24th-ranked Gonzaga picked up its second loss of the season at the hands of Kansas State (8-3). Gonzaga was without starting big man, Sam Dower for the entirety of the second half versus the Wildcats. Dower left the game late in the first half after he went down hard on his hip. X-rays on Dower's hip were negative, but he will still be dealing with the pain of a severely bruised hip for the next little while. Fortunately for the Zags, they start conference play at home versus Santa Clara and San Francisco, which should give them the opportunity to get Dower some rest.
Last week, Pacific tied BYU for the third spot in our rankings and was threating to knock the Cougars out of the top three, but after running into a buzz saw named Princeton (9-2) in Las Vegas, the Tigers have fallen back into fourth. Pacific was dismantled by Princeton losing to the other Tigers 83-58. Pacific rebounded the next night with a win over Bradley (5-7) to finish third in the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic. The Tigers will see their first WCC action next Monday at home versus Saint Mary's.
Portland had the best week of any team in the WCC, which translated in the Pilots jump from seventh to fifth in the rankings this week. Portland went to Vegas and took care of business, winning the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic with a 74-53 win over Bradley (5-7)and then a 93-79 victory over a Princeton (9-2) team that hammered Pacific the night before. The Pilots have a great opportunity to get off to a good start to conference play this next week with home games against the bottom two teams in our rankings (San Francisco and Santa Clara).
WCC Hoops Power Rankings: Week 7
*Note: Because of the holiday, this week's votes were tallied early and may not reflect the wins or losses from the last few days including Saint Mary's losses suffered late Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights.
Week 7 voters (8 total): Mid-Major Madness writer, Will Maupin, Slipper Still Fits writer, Peter Woodburn Land-Grant Holy Land and Vanquish the Foe writer, Matt Brown, and Vanquish the Foe writers, Kevin Kennedy, Kevin Schaefer, Nathan Kennedy, Nate Mathis, and Michael Murray.
What would your week 7 WCC Hoops Power Rankings ballot look like? Tell us what you think below.