The AP Top 25 poll has Gonzaga at #5 while the USA Today poll has them at #3; I think the USA Today poll has it right. Gonzaga is playing as well as anyone in the country. I keep talking about how amazing their front court is, but they are just that good. Saint Mary’s beat a very good San Diego team at San Diego while BYU lost both games last week. The WCC is proving to be better top to bottom than expected. Here’s how things stand as of now:
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Undoubtedly they are the best team in the WCC but they are also the best team west of the Mississippi. Barring any crazy losses or upsets, the Zags are on their way to being a #1 seed come tourney time. The game of the week, and perhaps the season, is on Valentines Day. Sorry wives and significant others, but this game is not one to miss. It has hype, conference title significance, and will be an exciting and competitive game between the Bulldogs of Gonzaga and the Gaels of Saint Mary’s. I for one will not miss it.
2. Saint Mary’s Gaels
Saint Mary’s did what BYU was unable to do this week: beat San Diego on the road. Matthew Dellavedova continues to play like one of the best point guards in the country while Saint Mary’s enjoyed a huge boost from their forward Brad Waldow. The question on everyone’s minds is if the Gaels can pull off the upset of Gonzaga at home. They definitely have what it takes, but they are going to have to figure out a way to slow down Kelly Olynyk and Gonzaga’s front-court to have a chance. It will be a game of the ages for the Gaels if they can pull off the upset.
3. BYU Cougars
BYU had their worst week in recent history this past week. They lost to San Diego on the road (sad but hot horrendous) and followed that up with a double digit loss to San Francisco at home (yes, horrendous). Those were both games BYU could have and should have won. Matt Carlino is cooling off, Josh Sharp isn’t playing at his normal level, and nobody else on the team is stepping up and filling in the holes. Perhaps more than ever, the losses of Rogers, Collinsworth, and Harrison are hurting the Cougars. They simply have no depth. Is the season over? Not completely. But BYU needs to pull things together with the roughest part of their schedule coming up: Utah State, Saint Mary’s, then Gonzaga all in a row. BYU will be lucky to get through that stretch 2-1, but all fans are hoping for a miracle 3-0. It’s what will be needed for BYU to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament (well, that or win the conference tournament).
4. San Diego Toreros
It’s hard for me to put San Diego in front of Santa Clara, but they deserve it. With their win over BYU, they are now the only team above .500 in WCC play not named BYU, Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga. Johnny Dee continues to sting teams with his shooting, particularly from deep, and still sport one of the better point guards in the league in Christopher Anderson. For the Toreros to hold the #4 spot for next week, they are going to have to beat Santa Clara on Thursday.
5. Santa Clara Broncos
It kills me to move Santa Clara down after all they did in the pres-season and their 5 game winning streak, but 2 straight losses to BYU and SMC, it’s time to move them down a spot. But this doesn’t mean I’m overlooking the awesome trio of Evan Roquemore, Kevin Foster, and Marc Trasolini. All 3 are ubber talented athletes and I still believe they will have their say come the end of the season; so watch out WCC.
6. San Francisco Dons
I stand my ground: Cody Doolin is the best finisher in the WCC. He has the ability to take over a game completely not by only getting himself to the basket, but setting his team up for easy buckets. If he were surrounded with more talent, the Dons would be a top 4 team in the conference. Dickerson has shown he is also very good, but that’s all the Dons have that really stand out. The 2 most amazing aspects of their victory over the Cougs were 1. They won at the Marriot and 2. They went 9-10 from 3 in the second half. Simply amazing. The only game left on their schedule that is not a winnable game is Gonzaga. They have a chance to finish the season 8-8 in WCC play, something nobody thought possible at the beginning of conference play.
7. Pepperdine Waves
Their 2 victories over Portland are the only positives in a frustrating season for the Waves. Those 2 games will keep them at #7 for the remainder of the season, but their potential is more and they have got to be frustrated with how the season has been.
8. Portland Pilots
Portland is no longer the worst team in the WCC! They were able to beat LMU twice this season, which puts them in sole possession of #8 for the remainder of the season. They have a tough schedule remaining and I don’t believe they will be able to snag a victory, but crazier things have happened.
9. Loyola Marymount Lions
Talk about disappointing. The Lions were believed to make some noise this season after their promising season last year. They have fallen very flat. The only winnable game remaining on their schedule is vs the Waves. Hopefully they will be able to get the win there and gain a moral victory to finish out the year. This squad has got to be looking forward to next season.