Publishing this an hour earlier than normal because we’re hearing rumblings that WOU may debut as the number one ranked team and so we thought we’d throw in our two cents because why not?
Well, here’s why not: We really do not pay attention to what’s going on with teams outside of the Region, for the most part. We keep a loose thread of what’s going on with:
Midwestern State -because they adopted us last year when we crashed the South Central Regional.
MSU-Moorhead -because GNAC teams played them early in the year.
Tarleton State -because GNAC teams frequently play the Riders in non-con.
Still; we never like to miss a good chance to talk out of our rear-end, so down the rabbit hole we go. It should be noted that records listed are in-conference, not overall.
Here are the two teams ranked ahead of WOU and what they did this past week:
#1 Augustana (SD) (17-1): Lost at Northern State (10-8), then won at #8 MN-Moorhead because of course.
#2 Fairmont State (WV) (13-3): Lost to #6 West Liberty and #4 Wheeling Jesuit, it appears as though by free throws, so take the point differentials with a grain of salt.
Fairmont is going to fall, but by how much? And does it mean that WOU moves into the top spot? We have a stigma against teams we like holding the top spot ever since senior year when SPU became the number one team and then fell on our feathers against Dixie State. On the one hand, we have no problem with WOU being ranked number one: they’ve earned it, they’re a great team, we’re excited to have them hopefully host the Regional; on the other hand, because of superstition, part of us hopes the nod goes to Wheeling Jesuit.
#4 Wheeling Jesuit (15-1) -upset #2 Fairmont State (13-3), and beat Shepherd (6-10) by 8.
#5 Lincoln Memorial (16-0) -blew out two teams by 30 a piece.
#6 West Liberty (14-2) -beat #2 Fairmont State, beat Shepherd by 12.
Wheeling also gets credit in upsetting the former number one that is now #6 West Liberty earlier this year. They are a really good team with really good SOS, partly because their conference in particular (the Mountain East) seems incredibly brutal.
The obvious question to look at with Wheeling as the 4th is who the #3 team played and what their SOS is like. Oh wait.
#3 Western Oregon -beat #19 Seattle Pacific (10-4), and beat Saint Martin’s (4-10) by 12.
………………………. We really don’t know. Again: We love the Wolves, we believe in the Wolves, and in that we don’t want them to pick up the #1 ranking. That being said, from a rational standpoint, we’re incredibly torn.
We like the argument for Wheeling Jesuit, we like the argument for Lincoln Memorial because we’re not passionately vested in their SOS, and we like the argument for West Liberty to be back in the #1 spot. The thing about WOU and Wheeling is that each only played one difficult game. While we know the Wolves struggled a bit early in the SMU game… We don’t count that as a reason to hold them back. The big question is: How big was the SPU win? How good is SPU?
The Wolves got a road win, which is always huge, but… SPU. An area that’s out of our expertise in regard to difficulty playing there. The Falcons are a good team and that doesn’t change just because of the setting. WOU is a good team and their play doesn’t change with their setting either. Whether or not WOU is hard to play at is also unknown by us because SPU can always be counted on to struggle at WOU, regardless as to the record of either team. Much like WWU @ UAF, the Falcons could win a national title and yet would still almost be guaranteed to have a loss in Monmouth on their schedule.
WOU beat the #19 team and a team with a record of 4-10 in conference.
Wheeling Jesuit beat the #2 team in the country and a team that’s 6-10.
The thing is though: We’re starting to believe in the GNAC. We’re so beyond thrilled with UAA’s play, even with the losses to SPU and SMU, that we don’t think those two losses matter. Suki, Brian, and Corey are the real deal. Spencer Svejcar was fairly quiet this weekend but is also a baller. Christian Leckband is a heck of a 6th man. The NCAA Tournament is about winning when it counts. UAA went toe-to-toe with WWU and down the stretch they got it done. Is WWU a super crazy amazing team this year? No. But the Seawolves took on a (perennial power) team looking to upset them, went to 2OT, and got out of it, all on the road.
WOU was down by as much as 14 against SPU and came back and won. We’ve seen the Wolves go down and come back a lot, but doing it on the road against a somewhat legitimate team like SPU is impressive. Somewhat legitimate because they have no functional big men, their best point guard is in a massive shooting slump, their small forward shoots and misses until the kangaroos come home, and that leaves you with their one amazing wing in Mitch Penner and thus he becomes the guy every team focuses on. And yet he still miraculously had a really good game against WOU -and this is with him underachieving in regard to rebounding.
After all of that… We love WOU. We believe in them. We watched SPU almost make it to the Sweet 16 last year, with only four functioning players. We love Andy, Julian, Jordan, Alex, Devon, and Tanner; we truly consider their lineup to have six starters. And we don’t think that they should get the nod over Wheeling Jesuit. Not this week. But if/when they get the sweep in Alaska, we’ll be the first to say “Give ’em the #1.”
Oh and we expect SPU to stay in the rankings, despite the loss. There also is the potential they move up. While as of last week they had one of the higher loss totals of the ranked teams, SOS will save you. Their losses come via CU-Irvine, UAA, UAF, and WOU x2; all teams with winning records that are/would be guaranteed bids in the respective conference tournaments.
Our usual Wednesday discussions about the reality of the rankings will be up tomorrow at 10am.