Blog Entry

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Only once before, in 2008, has West Coast Conference earned three bids to the Big Bracket.

It could and should happen again this year.

Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.

The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.

The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.

Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)

The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.

So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.



Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.


  1. Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
  2. Elias Harris, Gonzaga
  3. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
  4. Brandon Davies, BYU
  5. Noah Hartsock, BYU

Conference RPI: 11 rating: 11

Sagarin rating: 11

NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
  • Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
  • Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
  • Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
  • Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
  • San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
  • San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
  • Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.

By Matt Norlander


Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:27 am

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Uhhh.  Rob Jones wasn't the best St. Mary's big on the floor in either game against GU.  Dude had 2 points in the Gaels in and 8 in the loss. Are you thinking of Waldow?  That guy gave GU fits.  Sacre and Harris still the best bigs in the WCC, but if you've got a homer vote, give it to Waldow.

Since: Feb 28, 2012
Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:11 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

"And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s."

Has fact checking completely disappeared from journalism?  All of 3 blog posts earlier it was noted that Kansas has won 8 consecutive Big 12 titles, yet it didn't occur to anyone to check whether they might have also won 25 games in most of those seasons?

In fact, Kansas has won 25+ games for 7 straight seasons (including this one), which gives them a longer string of 25+ win seasons than either Duke or Saint Mary's.  Pittsburgh was also going for a 7th consecutive season with 25+ wins, but will fall short without an incredible finish.

Since: Feb 28, 2012
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:40 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

No Rob Jones in the best players list? The guy is a beast who has out performed the bigs from Gonzaga and BYU. No love for the Gaels. Speaking of the Gaels, are they a lock for the Dance if they lose an early round game in the WCC tournament?

Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:41 am


Thought I might include some important information...

Hartsock is better than Davies. I've watched every single Cougars game, and Noah is easily the best player on that team.

But the other critical information... Noah Hartsock is suffering from a late-season injury. He played just 7 minutes in the Gonzaga game and didn't play at all in the San Diego game. Not sure why you didn't include this information when you wrote about BYU's chances... Here we have BYU's best and most important player, and he just about tore his MCL last week. He will be at far less than full-strength in the WCC Tourney, and without him at full-strength, the Cougars have a paltry chance of taking this thing...

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