WEST COAST CONFERENCE
Orleans Arena, Paradise, Nevada
Record: 27-4, 17-1
The Bulldogs have won the last five Conference Tournaments and that’s about all that needs to be said. Their only WCC loss came at home against St. Mary’s, but they quickly got revenge and dominated in the second meeting between the schools. If Gonzaga can win this Tourney, it could be looking at a 4-seed in the West bracket for March Madness, which is almost perfect. The difference is that they aren’t dominating teams as much as previous seasons. Numerous Games show that from beating San Fran, San Diego and BYU by single digits. That may not seem like anything, but it was rare for them to beat anyone by less than 10 points a season ago.
Of course, they still have the most talented team in the Conference and have plenty of depth with guys like Corey Kispert and Rui Hachimura coming off the bench, both of whom have dropped 20-plus points this season. A trip to the finals will be close to guaranteed, but the Gaels have other ideas.
Record: 27-4, 16-2
It was looking like St. Mary’s finally had Gonzaga’s number this season, but that quickly changed as it lost at home to the Zags and then at San Fran. The Gaels have a great record, but still aren’t guaranteed for the NCAA Tournament after poor performances in the non-Conference against mediocre competition. If they don’t make the finals here, they should be worried for seeing their name on Selection Sunday. Of course, Jock LAndale is the best player in the Conference and won’t go down easy as a senior. The problem is everyone around him. There are plenty of seniors like Emmett Near, Cullen Neal and Calvin Hermanson, but beating better teams hasn’t come easy for them. And before getting to Gonzaga, St. Mary’s still has to take down BYU (or San Diego), which isn’t a freebie.
Record: 22-9, 11-7
The selling point for the Cougars is that they took St. Mary’s to overtime in Provo. The problem is that beating San Diego isn’t a guarantee in their first Game because the Toreros already beat them by 13 points only a couple weeks ago. BYU also doesn’t have any seniors on its team, which shows why it’s probably a year away from truly competing in this conference. The Cougars may show some fight, but the quality isn’t there to actually win this Tournament.
OUtside of the top two, it’s unlikely anyone else will win the Tournament. There’s always the chance BYU, San Diego or San Francisco steal a win, but turning one upset into another bigger upset is unlikely. All signs point to a third Game between Gonzaga and St. Mary’s and considering how the last matchup went, it’ll be hard to go against the Zags to win yet another WCC Tournament.