It is a Lopes and Aggies world we are living in right now. If you weren’t able to watch New Mexico State or Grand Canyon this past weekend, you missed out. But what more would you expect from two of the best mid-major programs in America right now? Yes, I said two of the best mid-major programs. Let me discuss.
Both the Aggies and the Lopes are in the KenPom top-100. Both are in the top-70 of the NCAA Net rankings. And the Aggies and Lopes are a combined 29-4 this season and 10-0 in WAC play. It doesn’t get much better than that at this point. Both are led by veteran guards. For the Aggies, Nebraska transfer Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen has looked nearly unstoppable. And for the Lopes, Jovan Blacksher Jr. has played his scoring role to perfection thus far.
And both the Aggies and Lopes are the deepest teams in the conference. Chris Jans and Bryce Drew have a dilemma on their hands that most coaches would love. Depth. And if all goes according to plan for the Aggies and the Lopes, Jan. 29 could be arguably the biggest conference game the WAC has seen in a long time.
But, some other teams may have a say in things. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings.
1 – New Mexico State Aggies
15-2 overall and 5-0 in WAC play. With a pair of double digit wins and finally showing the scoring ability, the Aggies dominated ACU and Tarleton this past weekend. Teddy Allen put on a shooting clinic on Saturday with a calm, cool 41-point performance. And in the win over Tarleton on Thursday, the Aggies hit 10 3-pointers. The depth is off the chart as the Aggies are almost 13-deep. It is a dilemma Chris Jans likes to have. Big road trip for New Mexico State as the Aggies are at Sam Houston on Thursday and at SFA on Saturday.
2 – Grand Canyon Lopes
Jovan Blacksher Jr. and Holland Woods create one of the best guard duos in the country. Gabe McGlothan and Sean Miller-Moore are energy guys. And other role players are playing their roles to perfection right now for the defending champs. The Lopes have shot 53 percent, 60 percent and 53 percent in their last three games. GCU put up 93 points on a good ACU squad on Thursday. And with one of the best atmospheres in America, you can see why. Taeshon Cherry has been playing at a high level. And the Lopes haven’t missed a beat after winning the WAC in 2020-21. GCU goes with its travel partner New Mexico State on a big road trip. The Lopes are at SFA on Thursday and at Sam Houston on Saturday.
3 – Seattle U Redhawks
I was high on Seattle U coming into the 2021-22 season. And I still am high on the Redhawks. Darrion Trammell is playing like the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. Cameron Tyson has hit 16 3-pointers in his past three games. And Riley Grigsby continues to be solid night after night. The Redhawks are 4-0 in WAC play and quietly flying under the radar. This team can shoot and score. The defense isn’t quite there but it can be. Trammell is first in the league in steals. With the addition of Brandton Chatfield from Washington State, the Redhawks have somewhat of a rim protector now. Keep an eye on this team going forward. Seattle U goes to Abilene Christian and Tarleton this week.
— Seattle U Men's Basketball (@seattleumbb) January 18, 2022
4 – Sam Houston
5-1 in WAC play. It’s almost like the win over NC Central to end non-conference play has sparked some confidence in the Bearkats. Savion Flagg is a WAC Player of the Year contender. Jason Hooten is now the all-time wins leader in program history. And the Bearkats have won in a variety of ways. Just look at the 49-41 win over SFA in the Battle of the Piney Woods. It is a big week for the Bearkats who host New Mexico State and GCU this week.
5 – Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Perhaps the most inconsistent team in the WAC this season is SFA. They lose ugly to rival Sam Houston and then put up a ton of points in a win over Lamar. It’s been the story of the season for the Jacks. Consistency. If the Jacks figure out how to be consistent, this team can play with and beat anybody. But, until then, Jacks fans are going to be biting their nails all season long.
— SFA Men’s Basketball (@SFA_MBB) January 18, 2022
6 – Utah Valley Wolverines
The biggest knock on Utah Valley is simply having a killer instinct to bury teams. At Seattle a week ago, Utah Valley led by 10 with six minutes to play. But, it was as if the Wolverines took the foot off the pedal as they went scoreless over the next four minutes or so and eventually lost to the Redhawks. Against a depleted CBU squad on Saturday, a sluggish start and letting a Lancer squad hang around doomed the Wolverines. With arguably the best big man in America and the reigning WAC Player of the Year, Utah Valley is better than it showed this past week. The Wolverines are back home to host UTRGV and Lamar this week.
7 – Tarleton Texans
The lack of size and depth caught up with the Texans this weekend. Known for its defense, Tarleton hung around for about a half of basketball at New Mexico State. And then on Saturday on ESPNU, the Texans didn’t stand a chance. GCU shot the lights out and Tarleton had no answer. Texans need to rebound this week when they host CBU and Seattle.
8 – Abilene Christian Wildcats
Missing Airion Simmons this past weekend hurt the Wildcats. But, if you watched both games, I am not sure it would have made a difference. ACU got a rude welcome on Phoenix when the Lopes put up 93 points on one of the best defensive squads in America. And on Saturday, Teddy Allen scorched the Wildcats for 41 points. The Wildcats have lost four straight since opening WAC play 2-0. ACU will look to right the ship when it hosts Seattle and CBU this week.
9 – Chicago State Cougars
Two conference wins. First time since the 2014-15 season that Chicago State has had more than one conference win. And Chicago State also has a road conference win – first time since 2017. And both wins have come with depleted rosters. Pretty impressive. Brandon Betson, Jahsean Corbett and Dominique Alexander have been really good for the Cougars. It’s a new culture at Chicago State under head coach Gerald Gillion. Chicago State gets the week off before hosting Utah Valley on Jan. 27.
10 – California Baptist Lancers
10-12 are interchangeable. The only reason I have CBU at 10 is because of who the Lancers beat. A gutsy win over Utah Valley on Saturday night at CBU Events Center. Tre Armstrong went for a career-high 28 points for a depleted Lancer squad. If CBU can figure out how to close games out, the Lancers would most likely be 4-0 in WAC play right now. CBU heads to Tarleton and ACU this week.
FINAL | @CBUmbb 75, Utah Valley 73
Lancers earn their first conference win led by Tre Armstrong with 28 points, followed by Ty Rowell with 16. pic.twitter.com/cK3550lvC0
— The Western Athletic Conference (@WACsports) January 16, 2022
11 – Dixie State Trailblazers
Technically Dixie State has the head-to-head win over CBU. So one could argue they belong ahead of the Lancers. I won’t debate that. Jon Judkins team plays hard. They just have to get off to better starts. Against Seattle, the Trailblazers got off to a bad start and it cost them. Against CBU, the Trailblazers got off to a good start, struggled late, and then turned on the gas in the final minute of a win. Cameron Gooden and Hunter Schofield are really good and the Trailblazers have key role players in Isaiah Pope and Frank Staine. This week is a big one by hosting Lamar and UTRGV.
12 – UTRGV Vaqueros
UTRGV has not been healthy at all this season. The Vaqueros are missing a pair of big men in Jeff Otchere and Donte Houston Jr. So, it has been a lot of guard play recently. Mike Adewunmi has been really good. Justin Johnson has also been good. The Vaqueros have a difficult road trip to Utah to take on Utah Valley on Thursday and Dixie State on Saturday. They like to play fast and get up and down the floor. It is entertaining basketball, to say the least.
— UTRGV Men’s Basketball (@UTRGVmbb) January 14, 2022
13 – Lamar Cardinals
The Cardinals can’t catch a break. Lamar is still winless in WAC play. On Monday, Lamar took SFA to the wire. C.J. Roberts has been really good. But the Cardinals can’t get the 0 in the win column off their backs. Perhaps that happens this week when Lamar travels to Dixie State and Utah Valley.