Just kidding about this not going up. The internet came back, thank Blog.
On the agenda today: Starting to think about this year’s GNAC tiers, speculating the West Region host; and discussing the rankings.
How is the GNAC separating itself now that we’re almost completely done with non-conference play?
The last D2 non-conference game is going to be played tomorrow by NNU and we’re so mystified by the Crusaders that… who knows. Still, here’s what we do know:
Top-Tier: Western Oregon and Seattle Pacific. Both have a few proven players and thoroughly proven teamwork. Their schedules have also tested them and they’ve come out on top.
Conference tourney bound: UAA, UAF, and WWU. Suki is dynamite, we’re hoping Brian McGill is back soon, Diante Mitchell has had good games. With UAF we’re loving Bangaly Kaba and Travante Williams, and Almir is starting to warm-up again. Thing is though -neither Alaska school has proven anything in terms of strength of schedule, particularly off the tundra. With Western, we really liked what we saw against SFU this week -getting Evan back looks like it’s going to be huge- but the Clan didn’t have Max Barkeley and while one player doesn’t make all the difference, it would have spread the Viking defense a lot better. SFU was up early before WWU decided to get serious. The Vikings also played a full line-up -they didn’t get to rest any starters against SFU, even without Barkeley, so that makes us wonder.
Battling it out: Saint Martin’s, potentially NNU, potentially CWU. SMU has shown promise and progress, getting a couple of non-conference wins and almost beating WWU. They didn’t do as much as we would have liked against SFU, but we’ll see. NNU is a very 50/50 team; they beat a decent Dominican team, then lost in a big way to a terrible CSULA team. We’re curious about what they do tomorrow against San Fran State, but… We’ll see. CWU, as noted pre-season: the Hawaii wins mean nothing, and even less than normal because the Hawaii schools are worse than normal. They got swept in Alaska and the men’s basketball culture at CWU has a reputation around our conference for being toxic, so… We’ll see. We don’t feel you can wholly rule the Wildcats out because they’ve only got one bad loss (against UAA), but they also don’t have any quality wins.
Conference Thorns: We’re calling them ‘thorns’ because they’re going to beat teams and it’s going to be ugly and unpleasant, but they will do it. That would be CU-Portland, Simon Fraser, and MSUB. We’ll get more into why next week.
We’ll do a more thorough review of non-conference stuff next week, but those are some of the things to be thinking about.
Any projections for the West Region host?
Thus far no real separation. Last year it was pretty obviously headed to Azusa, the year before Bernardino. Obviously Monmouth is going to be getting a serious look with how well Western Oregon is playing, Cal Poly Pomona is another school that’ll get a close look. The Pac-West is kind of pulling a Pac-12 thus far and having too much parity for us to give either Azusa or Cal Baptist serious consideration. Even between the three conferences… We’re leaning toward the CCAA being the stronger one, but that’s another discussion for next week.
This week’s rankings?
The short version:
3. Western Oregon -this doesn’t count the UCSD game, thus they’ve remained stagnant, which is good. No being arbitrarily moved down.
5. Cal Poly Pomona -Again, stagnant. Wins against Monterey Bay as well as East Bay -both of who are looking decent, which is good. Maybe the wins are a bit closer than preferred, but the Pioneers from East Bay have looked surprisingly okay thus far.
9. Seattle Pacific -moved up four spots, likely a mix of other teams losing and their win against Azusa Pacific.
11. UC San Diego -this doesn’t factor in the loss to WOU, but we honestly think this is where they should be regardless. Chico is likely still in the rankings purely because of their loss to Seattle Pacific, so… Yeah. UCSD’s ranking is absolutely deserved. We’re still really, really pleased with the Tritons.
17. Chico State -We feel like they came too close to losing to East Bay to merit this ranking. We need to look more closely at what other top 25 teams are doing, but as of now we think the Wildcats are getting too much credit for the loss (at home) to Seattle Pacific.
18. Cal Baptist -They should be ahead of Chico, 100%. They have a home win against #4 MN Moorhead and their losses come via 11th ranked UCSD and a one point loss against Azusa Pacific (which, we feel is a rivalry and thus judged differently anyway). If Chico is 17th because they lost at home to #9 SPU by 12, then Cal Baptist should be ranked higher for winning against Moorhead at home, losing to #11 UCSD on the road, and losing to a talented APU team by 1.
Others receiving votes: CU-Irvine (11 votes). Their only loss is to San Marcos and they have an OT win against Seattle Pacific on a neutral court. We still feel like they’re getting votes because they’re SPU’s only loss and we’re still not sure about whether or not it’s deserved because they really lack any quality wins outside of it. At this point because they’re a 1-loss team, you have to give them consideration, but at the same time we’re not sure whether or not we project them to make the West Region tourney because again: they just haven’t played anybody.
Sometimes answers simply lead to more questions and that is this post in a nutshell, but we wanted to get some form of Discussions up this week, particularly regarding the rankings. Tomorrow we’ll preview the SFSU game, and then next week we’ll do kind of a hardcore look at what’s gone on during non-conference and what it implicates for conference play going forward.