Here’s the Northwest 11 weekly power ranking. The qualifying regional Division I schools are Washington, Washington State, Seattle U, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Portland, Portland State, Idaho and Boise State. Idaho State will not be included due to Pocatello’s more eastern location.
NORTHWEST 11 WEEK 7
(Rank/Last Week/ School/Record: Comment)
1. (2) Oregon State (19-9, 11-5 Pac-12): ESPN’s latest Bracketology is out and OSU moved up to a predicted No. 10 seed facing LSU in the Baton Rouge opening-round. It would be the Beavers’ first NCAA tourney appearance since 1996. OSU is on a seven-game win streak and poised to take sole possession of third in Pac-12 standings this week. OSU has balanced scoring, an improved 6-foot-6 post and solid defense. The storybook finish to its best season since the 1990s is perfectly set up with a regular-season finale matchup against No. 20 Arizona State on Sunday that could decide third place in league standings. A win could also push the Beavers into national polls, receiving eight points in this week’s edition, including mine. My early thought is Scott Rueck for Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
2. (4) Gonzaga (24-4, 14-2 WCC): The Zags clinched a share of an unprecedented 10th consecutive WCC regular-season title with a win against Portland on Saturday. The Zags moved up to No. 22 in the national AP poll and are projected to be seeded sixth in the NCAA tournament, facing No. 11 seed Florida in the University Park opening-round.
3. (3) Idaho (19-8, 12-1 WAC): The Vandals finished 10-5 in road games this season, up from 7-10 last year. But come tournament time — if Idaho stays on the same path — the road could feel like home. The Vandals are projected to win the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tourney and play its open-round game at UW’s Alaska Airlines Arena against Cal. Defeat rival Seattle U at home on Saturday and Idaho will clinch the regular-season WAC title.
4. (1) Washington (16-11, 9-7 Pac-12): Getting blown out by 20 points to Oregon State on Sunday was huge. The team still holds on to NCAA tourney dreams but reality is Arizona is as likely as Washington to advance, meaning it’s not going to happen. The Huskies look to be WNIT-bound. The slim chance of reaching the Big Dance rests on beating one of the Bay Area powers — on the road — and have a good run in the Pac-12 tournament. I’d almost say needing to win it for the conference’s automatic bid. Anything can happen, but…PG Kelsey Plum was voted freshman player of the week for a Pac-12-record seventh time. Yep, she’s my Freshman of the Year pick. Sunday was Senior Day. Here’s footage of the ceremony at Alaska Airlines Arena:
5. (5) Boise State (15-10, 10-4 Mountain West): BSU hosts Fresno State on Wednesday in another big game standings-wise. The Bulldogs are a half-game behind the Broncos in MWC standings.
6. (7) Washington State (15-13, 9-7 Pac-12): WSU is tied with UW and USC for fifth in Pac-12 standings. But the Cougs own the tiebreaker against both, sweeping the Huskies and beating the Trojans earlier this season. It’s not first, but WSU’s possible top-half finish is better than the projected ninth place in preseason polls. WSU wraps is regular-season at No. 18 Cal on Thursday and No. 5 Stanford on Saturday.
7. (6) Seattle U (13-13, 8-5 WAC): SU’s quest to repeat as WAC regular-season champions ended in a loss, 72-66, at Grand Canyon on Thursday.
8. (8) Eastern Washington (13-11, 9-6 Big Sky): EWU plays at Portland State on Monday at 7:05pm. The game can be viewed for free at WatchBigSky.com.
9. (9) Portland (14-13, 7-9 WCC): Coach Jim Sollars’ 28-year career at Portland ends with two final regular-season home games this week. A celebration is planned for the Saturday game against Saint Mary’s at 2pm. Zags coach Kelly Graves honored Sollars last week in Spokane. Sollars was one of Graves’ mentors.
10. (11) Portland State (6-18, 4-11 Big Sky): Cemented in the spoiler role, PSU hosts EWU on Monday and could mess with the Eagles’ conference tournament seeding with a win. The top seven teams from the regular-season standings qualify for the tournament, with the top seed earning a bye to the semifinals. EWU is currently a half-game ahead of Idaho State for fourth in league standings.
11. (10) Oregon (13-14, 4-12 Pac-12): The Ducks’ defense allowed a combined 216 points in loses to the Washington schools last weekend.