REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
Location: Las Vegas. NV
Dates: 3/3-3/4 & 3/6-3/7
|First round – Friday, March 3|
|1||9:00 PM||#8 Pepperdine vs. #9 Pacific||BYUtv|
|2||11:00 PM||#7 San Diego vs. #10 Portland||BYUtv|
|Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 4|
|3||4:00 PM||#3 BYU vs. #6 Loyola Marymount||SSN|
|4||7:00 PM||#4 Santa Clara vs. #5 San Francisco||SSN|
|5||10:00 PM||#1 Gonzaga vs. Game 1 Winner||ESPN2|
|6||12:00 AM||#2 Saint Mary’s vs. Game 2 Winner||ESPN2|
|Semifinals – Monday, March 6|
|7||9:00 PM||Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner||ESPN|
|8||11:30 PM||Game 3 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner||ESPN2|
|Championship – Tuesday, March 7|
|9||9:00 PM||Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner||ESPN|
Gonzaga comes into this game as my fourth #1 seed at the moment, and a loss in this tournament will almost assuredly move the Zags down to the 2 line, most likely benefiting the Pac-12 champion. Gonzaga started the season 29-0, before ultimately falling in their last game of the regular season in a 79-71 loss to 3 seed BYU. Even a win over St. Mary’s in the semifinals probably wouldn’t get BYU in as an at-large, so the Cougars will most likely have to beat Gonzaga and secure the WCC auto-bid to make it into the big dance. The final real contender in this tournament is #2 seed St. Mary’s, the Gaels have been a solid top 25 team almost all year, they are solid all the way across the board, and are led by Jr. Jock Landale, who has been a double-double machine, and is averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Gonzaga and BYU will cruise to the semis, their opponents will be playing their second day in a row (see my bracket picks for who will win those 1st day games) vs two rested teams that are heads and shoulders above the conference. In fact, let’s throw BYU into that lock category as well, Loyola Marymount was swept by the Cougars during the regular season, and I see BYU making it three in a row. The fourth semifinal however, should be good. Santa Clara and San Francisco each have elite defenses for mid-major schools, these two split the regular season series, and the third meeting will come down to San Francisco’s depth. The Dons have the second most playing bench in the country, while Santa Clara ranks 253rd in bench minutes, I see San Francisco wearing SC down, and moving on to face Gonzaga.
So, our semis are: (1) Gonzaga vs (5) San Francisco and (2) St. Mary’s vs (3) BYU. San Francisco is a great team, and they have a very bright future, with all underclassmen in the starting lineups, but there are only two teams in this conference that could beat Gonzaga, and San Francisco isn’t one of them yet. The next game could be the best of the tournament, St. Mary’s is fighting for a chance to get revenge on Gonzaga, and BYU playing for an NCAA tournament bid. This is where BYU’s fairytale ends sadly, the Cougars do not match up well with St. Mary’s slow tempo, as evident by St. Mary’s double-digit victories over BYU in the regular season. It might not be the matchup we all want, but that means we are getting Gonzaga-St. Mary’s III.
The championship of the WCC: Gonzaga and St. Mary’s. Both of these teams have locked up NCAA tournament bids, but they will be fighting for seeding, and in Gonzaga’s case, a 1 seed. The Zags will be led by WCC player of the year Nigel Williams-Goss, who led Gonzaga to sweep the regular season series by a combined 33 points. I see Gonzaga, with a one seed on the line, dominating the Gaels again and coming away with another double-digit win. That’s not to say St. Mary’s is a bad team, but Gonzaga will prove that they are the top dog in the conference.
Friday, March 3
Saturday, March 4
Monday, March 6
Tuesday, March 7