The following order is based on current spot in the WCC:
St. Mary's (18-1; 5-0): Whether or not you think the 18-1 record is a fraud, you must give St. Mary's credit for winning each game it is supposed to. In the biggest game of the WCC season so far, St. Mary's dominated previously undefeated USD with a 65-42 win in San Diego. Omar Samhan continued his terrific play with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and the Gaels used the inside combo of Samhan and Diamon Simpson to coast to a very impressive victory. St. Mary's will have the opportunity to quiet any critics this Thursday when they take on Gonzaga.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 @ Gonzaga; 1/31 @ Portland
Portland (13-7; 4-1): The mark of a good team is that they take care of teams they should beat. After their performance last week, it's becoming pretty clear that this Portland team is legit. With the biggest 3 games in recent Pilots history coming up over the next two weeks, Portland went down to Southern California and easily defeated both LMU (75-59) and Pepperdine (73-58). Nik Raivio led the way for the Pilots on the road trip, as he scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebound against LMU. He then followed that up with 20 points and 9 rebounds against Pepperdine. St. Mary's and USD better take the Pilots seriously, or it could a very depressing trip to the Northwest for both teams.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 vs. USD; 1/31 vs. St. Mary's
San Diego (12-8; 4-1): It looks like the injury to Brandon Johnson might be catching up with San Diego. After taking care of business against the bottom of the WCC, the Toreros flunked their major test against St. Mary's. In the 65-42 defeat, Gyno Pomare was invisible, as he scored only 6 points and grabbed only 5 rebounds. For this team to be competitive against St. Mary's, Gonzaga, and even Portland, Pomare must display some senior leadership and be a dominant performer.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 @ Portland; 1/31 @ Gonzaga
Santa Clara (9-13; 1-4): Hopefully this week can provide some sort of confidence and momentum for the Broncos. After opening the WCC with an 0-4 record, Santa Clara played some solid basketball in wins over USF (70-54) and Houston Baptist (85-59). The key to the Broncos success is the performance of the guys around John Bryant. In the victory over USF, Bryant had his usual 18 points and 12 boards. But instead of it being a one-man show, James Rahon contributed a career-high 21 points for the Broncos. Against Houston Bapitst it was more of the same, as Rahon scored 25 points, and Bryant added 20 points and 21 rebounds. If Rahon and some of his teammates can play consistently, Santa Clara could be a solid team by the end of the season.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 vs.LMU; 1/31 vs. Pepperdine
Pepperdine (4-17; 1-4): After having the chance to watch Pepperdine play for the first time this season, I came away impressed by how hard this team plays. Although they were not that competitive in losses to Gonzaga (83-69) and Portland (73-58), they played hard for all 40 minutes. The most impressive player for the Waves is freshman guard Keion Bell. Against Gonzaga, Bell scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds. He followed that up with 12 points and 5 rebounds against Portland. Bell is a pleasure to watch because of the intensity and fire that he displays on the court. He could be a special player for Pepperdine down the road.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 @ USF; 1/31 @ Santa Clara
USF (8-12; 0-5): Prior to WCC play, I thought this team could be a contender for a spot in the top-half of the conference. After opening the conference with 5 consecutive double-digit losses, I'm starting to believe that this could be the team that LMU or Pepperdine upsets for a conference win. The Dons were dominated in their lone game of the week by the previously hapless Santa Clara Broncos. In the 70-54 loss, Dior Lowhorn managed only 13 points and 4 rebounds. It's starting to seem like all the losing is starting to effect the performance of the normally fantastic Lowhorn.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 vs. Pepperdine; 1/31 vs. LMU
LMU (1-20; 0-5): It's hard to explain just how bad this LMU team is. Obviously, with a record of 1-20 they weren't supposed to impress me, but I was still stunned by the overall mediocrity they displayed. The only good thing I saw from LMU (besides head coach Max Good) was the play of Vernon Teal. In his return from injury, Teal scored 12 points in both the loss to Portland (75-59) and the loss to Gonzaga (93-60). If Teal hadn't been hurt for such a long period of time, LMU might not be on pace for a one win season.
Schedule This Week: 1/29 @ Santa Clara; 1/31 @ USF