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West region basketball notes
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Stanford comes crashing down

Three weeks ago, Stanford was one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12. What a difference three weeks makes.

Four losses in six games later, the Cardinals are 16-12 overall, 7-8 in the conference and now in need of a miracle run through the league tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.

What happened? For one, Stanford is getting very little help from anyone outside of Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell, its two young big men. The point guard play has been shabby and the other parts of the offense is lacking.

Games against Arizona, Oregon and UCLA didn't help either. Now, one of the most talented rosters in the league is on the verge of becoming a sore disappointment.

Bracing for the storm

Quietly, the Western Athletic Conference tournament is shaping up as one of the most competitive in the west.

Louisiana Tech, Denver, New Mexico State and Utah State have all knocked each other off. All are good teams with big men and athleticism. All are capable of going on a run in the three day tournament.

When you add the fact that none of the teams will make the Big Dance without an automatic berth, you have the potential for highly competitive basketball.

The unexpected outburst

Is it possible to win conference Player of the Year honors in one game? If so, Kendall Williams from New Mexico may have accomplished the feat.

All you have to do is look at Saturday's win over Colorado State: 10 3-pointers in 13 attempts, 12-for-16 shooting overall, 46 points. And, oh yeah, it was on the road.

Williams was named national co-Player of the Week with Georgetown's Otto Porter, who scored 33 points against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

Williams has been money in league play, a steady double-figure scorer who can make shots from the perimeter. But nobody expected the outburst against CSU. It came in a crucial showdown, and the win may have given the Lobos the MWC regular-season crown.

On the verge of history?

The West Coast Conference has often been overlooked as a league with little teams that spring big upsets. That may change in about three weeks.

Gonzaga is on pace to garner the first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed in the history of the conference. GU is ranked second nationally in the major polls this week — but could go to No. 1 next week for the first time in school history thanks to top-ranked Indiana's loss Tuesday night. It's a team stacked with talent and, at this point, a team that has as much a chance as any to make a Final Four and win a national title.

Mark Few — aided by a new stadium a few years ago — has built a powerhouse in tiny Spokane. They were always good. But this season they have taken that to another level.

Without a loss for the remainder of the season, Gonzaga should be the top seed out west. That means there's an excellent chance for them to come to Salt Lake City and EnergySolutions Arena for the second and third rounds.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib

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