West Coast Conference Tournament Preview

Any listener of the BFox and BFrank Show knows that I love this conference. Gonzaga is once again the class of the WCC, but this is one of the deepest fields in tournament history. The usual contenders (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, BYU) are still around, but up to seven teams can win it all this year.

2018 Champion: Gonzaga

West Coast Conference Tournament Preview 1

Contenders


1-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs 29-2 (16-0)

The Zags are the best team in the country, even though they haven’t had a fully healthy Killian Tillie all season. Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are the best forward duo in the nation, and are a big part of why Gonzaga won each of its WCC games by double digits. This team will be heavy, heavy favorites.

2-seed Saint Mary’s Gaels 20-11 (11-5)

It was touch and go for a while but St. Mary’s eventually found itself in a familiar position, right behind Gonzaga. The Gaels still play at a snails pace, but they feature the conference’s co-leading scorer in Jordan Ford as well as the best collection of shooters in the WCC. Ford, Dan Fotu, Tanner Krebs, and Jock Perry all shoot better than 40 percent from distance. Saint Mary’s will need to control the pace and have a lights-out shooting night in order to knock off Gonzaga, but it definitely can be done.

3-seed BYU Cougars 19-12 (11-5)

Yoeli Childs is a walking double-double and almost impossible to guard one on one. In two games against St. Mary’s this year (a possible semifinal opponent of BYU in what would be the game of the tournament) he averaged 22 points and 11.5 rebounds. TJ Haws helps BYU play faster than everyone else in the WCC and looks to run at every opportunity. If the offese gets clicking, watch out.

4-seed San Francisco Dons 21-9 (9-7)

Frankie Ferrari would be an 11/10 name even if he wasn’t a great player, but he is. Ferrari leads the Dons in scoring with 14.8 points per game and is third in the WCC in both assists and steals per game. With Ferrari, two efficient inside scorers and the 2nd-best rebounding team in the WCC it’s easy to see why USF has been hovering around an at-large bid for most of the year.

Sleepers

5-seed Loyola Marymount Lions 20-10 (8-8)

LMU is the best defensive team in the WCC not named Gonzaga or St. Mary’s, and that’s why it finds itself in the top half of the conference. James Bateman had a great finish to the regular season (19.5 ppg in his final six games) but no other Lion averages in double-digits in scoring. If LMU is to make a run it will have to ride its defense and play every game in the 60s.

6-seed Santa Clara Broncos 16-14 (8-8)

Santa Clara pretty much just beat the teams below it in the standings and lost to the teams above. Tajh Eaddy, Josip Vrankic and freshman Trey Wertz pace the offense but also account for over 60 percent of the Broncos scoring–balance is an issue. On top of that, Santa Clara has two of the top 10 rebounders in the WCC but is in the bottom half of the league overall. It’s a top-heavy roster, and could limit how far the Broncos go in this tournament.

7-seed San Diego Toreros 18-13 (7-9)

All-WCC First Teamer Isaiah Piniero is Yoeli Childs lite, pacing the Toreros with 19.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. I expect Piniero and Childs to square off in the third round in what should be a phenomenal individual match-up, but San Diego doesn’t have the depth to truly compete with the league’s top three.

Spoilers

8-seed Pepperdine Waves 13-17 (6-10)

Pepperdine will go as far as Colbey Ross can carry them. The dynamic sophomore is fourth in the WCC in scoring (19.3 points per game) and leads the conference (fourth nationally) with 7.3 assists per game. Lorenzo Romar has a great outside shooting team and will have to lean heavily on that as the Waves will likely still be without leading rebounder Kameron Edwards (foot injury). At this point Pepperdine is already playing with house money. Romar has helped the Waves more than double last year’s win total (first season with double-digit wins since 2015-16) and triple last year’s conference win total.

9-seed Pacific Tigers 14-17 (4-12)

No one is more thankful for Portland than Pacific, who would like have the WCC’s worst offense and defense if the Pilots didn’t exist. Roberto Gallinat paces the Tigers, but don’t expect much from this team.

10-seed Portland Pilots 7-24 (0-16)

The nicest thing I can say about Portland’s basketball team is that it exists.

Predictions

Opening Round

Pepperdine over Pacific
San Diego over Portland

Second Round

Loyola Marymount over Pepperdine
San Diego over Santa Clara

Third Round

San Francisco over Loyola Marymount

BYU over San Diego

Semifinals

Gonzaga over San Francisco
Saint Mary’s over BYU

Championship

Gonzaga over Saint Mary’s

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