Turk’s Take – An Important Week Left in the West Coast Conference

A lot remains at stake this week as conference play wraps up:

Gonzaga controls its own destiny.  With two wins at USD and BYU, Mark Few’s team collects another regular season championship and a #1 seed in Las Vegas.  Anything less and a 2-0 week for St. Mary’s gives the Gaels a share of the title and the #1 seed based on the tiebreaker.

Will St. Mary’s recover from an 0-2 week?  I wouldn’t want to be Pep or Santa Clara rolling in to Moraga as Landale and Naar wrap-up their careers.  This is exactly what the Gaels need to find themselves again.  Not likely that the Zags trip up on the road, so Randy Bennett has to prepare his team to win the second season and become tournament champs.

BYU will not finish 6-2 as predicted, and that may cost them third place.  The Cougs finish at Portland and then host GU in the season finale.  Even though they have beaten the Zags once in each of the last four years, Mark Few will make sure his team doesn’t squander the chance to hold the #1 seed.  For Dave Rose, his team might look back to the loss at LMU two weeks ago as the game that hurt them the most.

A BYU split would mean Pacific could move into the third spot with a sweep at home over USF and then on the road at LMU.  The Tigers have struggled lately going 4-5.  More importantly, USD, USF, and Santa Clara are all just one game behind, so Damon Stoudamire’s team must stop the freefall and win their last two.

As you can imagine, there are so many scenarios that affect where the Toreros, Dons, and Broncos can finish in the standings – all are at 8-8.  Among the three teams, only USD and USF get to play each other.  Since Kyle Smith’s group gets to play Pacific as well, you could say they can have the biggest impact on the conference standings.  The Toreros get to host Gonzaga, and they held the Zags to their second lowest scoring output this season.  This will be a loud game in the Slim Gym for sure.  Meanwhile, Santa Clara hosts LMU and then goes to Moraga for their season finale.

Interesting that four games separate the #7 & #8 teams, and neither USD, USF, or Santa Clara want to be playing on day one of the conference tournament.

Looking at the teams in the last three spots,.. Portland did exactly what they needed to do by sweeping Pep and LMU three weeks ago to secure the 8th spot.  Since then, the only drama left was if Pep would muster a second win against LMU.  The Lions did get revenge at home against the Waves, after LMU upset BYU the week before.  The Waves continue to fight but are still stuck on one conference win and will lose Marty Wilson as their coach at season’s end.