Expect Early Madness Already in March
Let’s cut to the chase. Gonzaga is going to win the West Coast Conference Tournament. Hands down they are the best team in the conference by a fairly sizable gap. After that, each of the other teams is capable of beating the other. For that reason, expect a few mild upsets. Here is how I see the tournament playing out:
Thursday – First Round
#8 Pepperdine vs. #9 Pacific
While Pacific won both meetings against the Waves, not only is it difficult to beat a team three times in a season, but I also think the Tigers are just ready to go home. Waves win.
#7 San Diego vs. #10 Portland
These games were not close during USD’s two regular season wins, but you can disregard the comment above about beating a team three times – Portland did not win a regular season game. Talk about a team wanting to go home. The Pilots get rolled by double-digits here.
Friday – Second Round
#8 Pepperdine vs. #5 Loyola Marymount
This will be a well-rested LMU team who should take the rubber game of this three-game set. The Lions are riding too much momentum not to win, and a first game tournament loss ruins the look of their 20-win season.
#6 Santa Clara vs. #7 San Diego
The Toreros have four seniors who will make sure USD pulls off a mild upset even though the Broncos are playing well right now. This might be the best game of the first three rounds.
Saturday – Quarterfinals
#4 San Francisco vs. #5 Loyola Marymount
No surprise to see this match-up. I find it hard to believe that after three losses to conclude the regular season, the Dons will not win here. Kyle Smith must also have a great audition for the powers at Cal and Penn St. if he is going to leave USF for either of those jobs.
#3 Brigham Young vs. #7 San Diego
Neither of these teams play great defense, so there will be a lot of offense. However, it’s likely that USD will be too tired playing in their third straight game to have enough on either end to upset BYU. The Cougars move on to the semis in an 8-point win.
Monday – Semifinals
#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 San Francisco
The Dons put up a valiant effort in War Memorial in a nationally televised game before they were whipped by the Zags in Spokane. This is serious business for Mark Few’s team now, and USF will fall by at least 20.
#2 St. Mary’s vs. #3 Brigham Young
The Gaels won 7 of their last 9 to claim their usual second place finish. While these two teams split in the regular season, I just think St. Mary’s is the better team and is playing too well right now, not to lose this game.
Tuesday – Final
#1 Gonzaga vs. #2 St. Mary’s
After getting pummeled in Spokane by 48, SMC lessened the damage at home in falling by just 14. The smaller defeat might be better for their psyche, but the Zags can’t leave Vegas without another tournament championship and cement a #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney.