Posted on February 28, 2023
The WCC is all set for the tournament.
Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga share the crown with the No. 1 seed going to the Gaels via a NET ranking of seven compared to the Zags coming in at No. 9.
UCLA has got the Pac-12 locked up regardless of what happens this week.
San Diego State has locked up at least a share of the Mountain West and can shut the door on Boise State Tuesday night.
Here are my projected NCAA bids and Final Four at the moment, all subject to change with each week.
Pac-12 (3): Arizona, UCLA & USC
WCC (2): Saint Mary’s & Gonzaga
MWC (4): San Diego State, Boise State, Utah State & Nevada
Bubble: Arizona State (rising)—Oregon (steady-ish), New Mexico (falling)
And finally, here are this week’s Power Rankings.
1. UCLA Bruins 25-4 (1)With wins last week over Utah and Colorado, the Bruins clinched an outright regular-season Pac-12 Championship. It is their first regular season title since 2012-13.
The sweep of the Mountain schools completes a sweep in all of their two-game conference road trips this season, with the exception of the trip to Arizona.
UCLA continues to lead the nation with 8.8 more scoring chances per game than opponents are getting. The Bruins have now won eight straight games, allowing just 57.1 points per game during the win streak.
UCLA will close out the home portion of the season this week with a visit from the Arizona schools as they look to extend the nation’s longest home-court winning streak to 25 games.
2. Arizona Wildcats 24-5 (2)The Wildcats lost at home to Arizona State in their lone game last week.
In that loss, Arizona still scored 88 points. In their four prior losses, it was the offense that let them down. Arizona was averaging just 68.5 points per game in their four prior losses compared to 85.6 in their 24 wins this season.
Not only did the Arizona offense put up 88, but they also led by as many as 10 midway through the second half.
Losing to Arizona State has got to sting—and doing so on a 60-footer at the buzzer adds some bite to it. But in this loss, the Wildcats can at least take solace in the fact that the offense was there.
Now the defense may have been another issue.
They allowed ASU to shoot 53.7% from the floor after limiting opponents to 35.5% in their prior two games. The 11 misses from the FT line in a one-point loss were never a good thing, but they can be corrected.
3. San Diego State Aztecs 23-5 (3)The Aztecs can wrap up the Mountain West regular season crown with a win at Boise State Tuesday night.
San Diego State is in that position thanks to a pair of wins last week with the second coming on a game-winning three at the buzzer in Albuquerque.
In the first win last week the Aztecs held Colorado State to 58 points marking the 10th time this season they have held an opponent to under 60 points.
The Aztecs have won six straight games with three of those coming on the road. In those three road wins, SDSU has won three by a total of six points.
4. Gonzaga Bulldogs 25-5 (5)For the 11th straight season Gonzaga has claimed at least a share of the WCC title with the win over Saint Mary’s.
The Zags lead the nation in scoring at 87.4 points per game, and despite being 10 points below average, still managed to put up the highest-scoring game in regulation against SMC this season.
Gonzaga has now won six straight games, averaging 94.3 points per game during the win streak.
The two wins last week give Gonzaga 25 wins on the season for the 16th consecutive year, the longest such streak all-time in NCAA history.
In the last three games, Drew Timme has averaged 25.0 points per game on 68.9% shooting from the floor.
5. Saint Mary’s Gaels 25-6 (4)The Gaels shared the WCC regular season championship for the first time since 2016.
You would have to think that, given where things stood at the start of February, SMC had to be thinking of an outright title.
Nonetheless, the share of the title brings the top seed in the WCC Tournament.
The 77 points allowed against Gonzaga marked the first time an opponent has scored 70 points or more in regulation since the season opener against Oral Roberts.
SMC still sits fifth in the nation allowing just 59.3 points per game.
The Gaels had uncharacteristic turnover issues in the loss, with a miscue of 17.6% of their possessions. Saint Mary’s had a 15-point first-half deficit to Gonzaga in points off turnovers as they were down 13 at the half.
For the game, the Geals were -9 in the points off turnovers category. The Gaels have finished second or better in the WCC in 16 of the last 19 seasons.
6. USC Trojans 21-8 (7)USC picked up two more wins last week with a road sweep of Colorado and Utah. It runs the Trojans’ win streak to four games.
Boogie Ellis has led the way averaging 23.0 points and 4.0 assists during the win streak.
Getting a Quad 1 win at Utah was huge for the Trojans’ NCAA Tournament resume.
USC has a chance to pick up another pair of quality wins at home this week as the host Arizona and ASU, and look to extend their 14-game home-court win streak.
The Trojans are 14-1 this season when scoring at least 70 points in a game.
A pair of wins this week along with an Arizona loss at UCLA would ensure a two-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament for USC.
7. Utah State Aggies 22-7 (8)The Aggies have won three in a row and six of their last eight.
They close out the regular season with a trip to UNLV before hosting Boise State this week.
Utah State is assisting on 62.2% of made buckets this season, the 10th-highest assist rate in the nation.
In the win last week over Wyoming, USU won despite not reaching the upper 70s. The Aggies are now 7-7 on the season when scoring 76 points or less in a game, compared to 15-0 when reaching 77.
8. Boise State Broncos 22-7 (6)The Broncos win streak at ExtraMile Arena has now reached 13 in a row with their win over New Mexico.
The issue for Boise State in the last week was the overtime loss to San Jose State. It leaves BSU with a 5-5 mark in true road games this season.
The Broncos can still claim a share of the MWC title but will need knock off San Diego State and get a win at Utah State and a little help with a second Aztec loss.
Boise State remains 26th in the nation in scoring defense allowing 63.1 per game. Against SJSU, they allowed the Spartans to put up 49 points in the 25 minutes of action following halftime.
9. Nevada Wolf Pack 22-8 (9)The Wolf Pack collected two victories in the last seven days but lost at Wyoming for the sixth straight time in the series. The Wolf Pack have now won seven of their last nine games.
In their wins recently Nevada has gotten defensive. The Pack limited opponents to 53.5 points per game in the two wins earlier in the week prior to last night’s egg in Laramie.
Nevada finished out the game against Wyoming missing 17 of their final 21 shots from the field. Nevada has forced a turnover on 22.2% of possessions in their last four games. Their season rate is 18.4%.
This jump is aided by the Fresno State game in which Nevada forced a turnover on 26.7% of the Bulldogs’ possessions, and they followed it up against Wyoming forcing a miscue on 25.0% of possessions.
Nevada is 7-0 this season following a loss. That is certainly a good omen heading into the regular season finale as UNLV comes to the Lawlor Events Center, where the Wolf Pack have won 14 in a row.
10. Santa Clara Broncos 23-8 (10)Santa Clara has now won seven-straight games, owning the second-longest active win streak on the west coast, trailing only the eight in a row of UCLA.
The streak is tied for the 11th longest in the nation. The Broncos are averaging 84.4 points per game during their streak.
Spearheading things for Santa Clara has been Brandin Podziemski who has gone for 23.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in his last seven.
The Broncos will need some conference tournament magic to earn a spot in the NCAA field, but they should have done enough this season to earn an NIT bid.
The 23 regular season wins are the fourth most in program history and the most since the team won 25 in the 1968-69 season.
The Broncos won 11 conference games for the first time since posting a 12-2 conference record in the 1996-97 season.
11. Arizona State Sun Devils 20-9 (12)Arizona State is 5-2 in their last seven games and perhaps none were bigger than the win in Tucson on Saturday.
It is the second consecutive season they have knocked off a Top 10 opponent and the first time they have done so on the road since winning at No. 2 Kansas in 2017.
It was the 11th win over a ranked opponent during Bobby Hurley’s tenure in Tempe, the most by an ASU head coach since Bill Frieder picked up 11 in his career at ASU in the 1990s.
Arizona State has played 12 games this season that have been decided by two scores or less and own a 9-3 record in those contests.
Desmond Cambridge Jr was the hero in the win over Arizona with his 60-foot game-winner.
It gave him 19 points for the day, and he has averaged 17.8 points per game in the Sun Devils last five wins. In the two losses, he has averaged 10.5.
I think the Sun Devils still have some work to do to get into the NCAA Tournament, but they are trending in the right direction.
They have a chance to get some work done this week with a trip to LA.
12. New Mexico Lobos 20-9 (11)New Mexico lost a pair of tight games last week and find themselves on the losing side of six of their last seven.
The most recent was a defeat at the buzzer at the hands of San Diego State in what could have been a win that would have done a ton of good in their hunt for an NCAA bid.
Against Boise State, Jamal Mashburn was held to seven points, ending his 48-game streak of double-digit scoring games.
After opening the season 20-2 the Lobos are limping to the finish line having gone 2-7 down the stretch. Two are on the horizon this week with a visit from Fresno State and a trip to Colorado State.
They can’t afford to drop either of them, closing strong and a good showing in the MWC Tournament could get them to the NCAA, but it is looking more and more like the Pit will be hosting NIT games.
13. Loyola Marymount 19-11 (14)The Lions finished off the regular season with a win over Pepperdine to claim fourth place in the WCC.
LMU finished out the month winning three of their last five with the sole losses coming to Santa Clara and Gonzaga.
Cam Shelton has reached double figures in each of his last 22 games. Shelton has scored at least 30 points in three of the last four games, averaging 30.8 points per game in the five-game stretch.
14. San Jose State Spartans 17-12 (15)The Spartans collected an overtime win over Boise State the last time they hit the hardwood.
The upset win puts them at 8-8 in Mountain West play and they currently sit in fifth place in the Conference.
The Spartans will look to reach the 18-win mark for the first time since the 1980-81 squad went 22-9.
They host Colorado State next and finish the regular season with a trip to Air Force and a chance at a 19-win regular season campaign.
In the win over the Broncos, SJSU outrebounded BSU 53-32. The Spartans rank eighth in the nation with a total rebound rate of 55.2% and collected 62.4% of the rebounds in that win.
15. Washington State Cougars 15-15 (16)Washington State has won five straight games after sweeping the Bay Area road trip for the second straight season.
The last time the Cougars collected road sweeps of Cal and Stanford in consecutive seasons were 1982 and 1983.
The win over Cal was their seventh in a row over the Bears, the longest WSU win streak in the history of the series.
Sitting at 10-9 in Pac-12 play with only the Washington game remaining, the Cougars are guaranteed back-to-back .500 or better conference records for the first time since 2006-07/2007-08.
Mouhamed Gueye has recorded a double-double in seven of his last nine games and each of the last three.
16. Oregon Ducks 16-13 (NR)Oregon gets the 16th spot in the rankings this week coming off a win over Oregon State.
Utah is heading in the wrong direction, having dropped four in a row while the Ducks sit in fifth place in the conference.
They host the Bay Area teams this week with a chance to finish 12-8 in conference play and perhaps sneak into the top four in the Pac-12.
Oregon will need to sweep the last two games and then get a win at minimum over Arizona State in the conference tournament to get a sniff at the NCAA.
It may even take a Friday night upset of UCLA in Vegas to secure a ticket.
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