The WCC went 9-1 in the past 48 hours. Granted, there’s a wide variety of opponents (and winning performances) in that nine. But among those wins were Texas, SDSU, Davidson, Stanford, and Nevada. The only loss was Pacific to future-SCU opponent Hawaii in Hawaii.
Limited sample size, but the outcomes are stellar for the conference as a whole. The WCC has leaped to the 4th strongest conference on BartTorvik with the top six teams all within the top 100. 4th is certainly an anomaly that will even out, but even the more conservative KenPom has the WCC at 7th–above the American and well above the Mountain West. Santa Clara clocks in at 107 in KenPom. Win against Nevada, and SCU almost certainly jumps into the top-100.
The conference anchor right now is Portland. But even the lowly Pilots are likely better than their current 300+ ranking. As the preseason expectations fall out of the algorithm, I expect Portland to rise at minimum into the high 200s. That still would be, by far, the worst in the conference but will likely be enough keep the WCC as the best mid-major conference with a bullet.
6 in the top 77 (SCU is 77) in Torvik. And USD is 125. They play Riverside next who beat Arizona State last week and played a not too bad game against SDSU (they lost by double digits, but were in with a shout into the last 5 mins).
I was thinking after Stanford that SCU could legitimately be more competitive in the Pac-12 than WCC considering they already have 3 “wins” over them. Now I think the WCC may just be a better league.
It will be interesting to see where things are in a few more games after Bayesian priors start to wear off (I don’t know the exact formulas, but I assume there is a prior belief component in the early rankings, we have clearly played better than Loyola so far at the very least).
Very interesting start to the season, for all the right reasons.
Wow USF only beat Nevada by 3. The 7 foot white guy that looked like he had never seen a basketball against SCU had 24 points. Bramah was a lot more effective too. Difference maker was Sherfield only making 3 of 12.
Looks like maybe USF decided they weren’t going to win giving up 13 3’s. And they didn’t but they gave up a lot of 2s. But they won.
Bouyea and Stefannini combined for 50 for USF.
Tape has gone the night without attempting a shot for the second time in 3 games. He has 2 attempts in his last 61 minutes of “basketball”. He also had 0 rebounds for the second time in 3 games. I know box scores don’t tell everything, but that’s a lot of nothing to be doing to keep getting starts.
Regardless of how USF looked vs. Nevada I would not sleep on them. They are 5-0 with wins over Nevada and a decent Davidson squad. It’s early, but their advance metrics are similar to ours.
Regarding their post players…it’s not about scoring with them. They get ample scoring from their guards, they don’t need much scoring from their posts. Their problem last year was lack of interior size and defense, toughness, rebounding. Their new guys, mostly experienced transfers all address those issues whether they’re scoring much or not. It’s telling that the their two returning starting frontcourt players (Kunen and Ryuny) have been relegated to the bench, still in the playing rotation but fewer minutes. USF’s frontcourt last season were a bunch of waifs (Jurkatamm, Kunen, Ryuny), had to be one of the lightest frontcourts in the WCC; their new guys are Massalski (6-9, 240lbs) and Tape (6-10, 240) along with back-up 7-2, 270 Washington St. transfer, Markovetskyy. A gift from Kyle Smith, I’m sure Smith steered him to USF. Markovetskyy actually played at WSU was a part time starter but was recruited over by some better, younger players.
Finally, the guard match-ups will be interesting vs. USF. Jalen probably gets the assignment on Bouyeau, Pipes makes sense on Shabazz but that leaves Justice defending USF’s 3rd guard Stefanini, a tough assignment for him. I anticipate an exciting but challenging game.
You’re right, of course. Coming from an SCU family, I kind of just can never accept that USF could possibly be good.
Their comeback win last night was impressive. Bouyea has ice in his veins when needed. I’m unimpressed by the upgraded front court but, like you said, they didn’t need it to still beat Nevada which has two 7-footers on the floor at the same time. And Massalski is big and tough enough to hurt us in our real Achilles heel so far: rebounds.
Nevada’s frontcourt ate up USF though. They lost bc they didn’t shoot 3’s like they did vs. SCU, and they couldn’t shut off the 3s on the other end.
The way a lot of games are going to be won or lost these days.
Getting run out despite making 13 of 28 from deep was a bad, bad sign for Nevada.
A couple more early season signs:
First, Will Maupin’s latest power rankings (pre-TCU and pre-ND for Saint Marys). He’s pretty sparse on SCU, but based on his Twitter, I think he is bought in after last night.
One of the things I’m looking forward to for hopefully the rest of pre-conference is seeing how various pundits try to rank SMC, USF, and SCU. For now, BYU will likely be consistently above and LMU below those three. Mostly, I’m curious what it will take for SCU to actually leapfrog past USF, which is still riding a wave of preseason expectations despite a less impressive start than either SCU or SMC. No tests for the Dons until December against Fresno State.
Speaking of which, here is the College Insider Mid-Major top-25. The poll is a little weird and outdated given that 2-3 conferences are not considered mid-major despite being a clear step below the WCC on the whole (MWC and A-10, for example). SCU makes it into the poll but seems very underrated, likely due to reticence to give it a jump from unranked into the top-10 or so (which is what I think the early returns would merit).
Unfortunately, the early NET rankings aren’t any better for either USF or SCU. But it’s early and I don’t know what the Bayesian logic is or how long it lasts.
I tend to think Massey has the weakest Bayesian prior of the rankings, and he has Santa Clara 43. He has Arizona 2, which not many do. Massey and NET ended up being mostly similar by the end of last year, and if anything the NET favored the less “power” conference teams.
So have to figure it’ll work itself out.
Hoping that SCU can remain below the radar for a bit longer…expectations can have a horrible habit of rattling teams. If the boys can reinforce their chemistry with a few more wins, their resilience will be off the charts.
Love Maupin’s observations, like this one about the Toreros:
“Now, I’m no coach, but if I was… I would be screaming at my team to SHOOT MORE THREES. The Toreros have connected on 48.1% of their threes this season. That’s not only incredible but it’s the best in the entire sport. So why are they only taking 16.2 of them per game? Why are they 335th out of 358 teams in three point rate? Let those shooters shoot!”
Small sample size and some of their guys are shooting way above their historical level.
They do look to have a couple of really good shooters, but Calcaterra isn’t the most athletic to be able to get volume and I don’t know about some of the bench guys, could be the same.
Sounds like Maupin would like St. Thomas. 3rd in the nation in 3 point rate and shooting 41%. Against mostly lower level teams, though.
jeezus maybe beating Oregon behind closed doors wasn’t the feat we thought it was.
Been following maupin on Twitter for a couple years and he (more than) sometimes lets his staunt Gonzaga fandom shroud his judgement. But to be fair, he does watch every single damn wcc game. And for that, he’s a good follow.
Wcc is absolutely dominating the pac12, best conference west of the Mississippi (not including Kansas)
Gonzaga is a completely different animal but I actually think we would match up pretty well against UCLA.
UCLA struggling without Cody Riley.
It’s like not having players matters. I wonder where I’ve heard that.
Job 1 against Gonzaga has to be get Holmgren in foul trouble. I don’t think they’re beatable without doing that. If you back away from him, if you fall away, if you try to get around him, you’re in trouble. You have to go straight through him.
If you can force them to play with only 2 of their big 3, they’re still very good, but then at least you have a chance.
They’d better win the title this year because their recruiting is not looking stellar for 2022 or 2023.
Gonzaga will be just fine. Every year they just get better and better. They don’t rebuild, they reload.