Welcome back to another College Spotlight. This time we take a quick peak at the West Coast Conference. If you missed last week’s installment on the Mountain West Conference, or my look at the dominant ACC, definitely check them out.
The WCC is a 9 team conference based out of… well the West Coast. There are three teams in the WCC that could make the tournament and make some noise while they are there. There is a substantial drop in talent after the top tier however, so expect a few blow-outs during the conference schedule. Overall the WCC is on the rise, with the overall talent rising every year, so expect a deeper conference and big things in the next 2-3 years.
1. Gonzaga- the established power and class of the conference. They have been in March Madness for the last 14 years, winning the WCC tournament 10 times in the same span. With a talented frontcourt in Elias Harris & Kelly Olynyk, and the best backcourt in the conference featuring Kevin Pangos & Gary Bell, they should come out on top once again.
2. St. Mary’s- my head tells me to pick BYU here, but my heart is saying St. Mary’s… This team will struggle some nights as they are not very deep, but their starting five can score in bunches and have good fundamentals all around. Led by Australian Matthew Dellavedova, a crafty guard that is scoring over 18 ppg, and percentage wise is shooting the holy grail of 50/40/90 (FG, FT, 3PT).
3. BYU- This a nicely balanced team, with established role players to complement the two big scorers. After completing two years of missionary work, Tyler Haws has returned mature and torching the mesh at 20 ppg, while senior Brandon Davies complements him well in the post at 18 ppg.
4. Loyola Marymount- Another high scoring team led by Anthony Ireland, they could have 5 players scoring in double-digits by years’ end. Will challenge the top teams, and is knocking on the door to make this a 4 team race in the next couple years.
5. Santa Clara- senior leadership, contributors at all positions, and solid coaching. The problem is they just do not have the talent to really challenge the top-tier teams. Will score a ton of points and beat up on the weaker teams, but should be outclassed with the larger programs.
6. San Diego- surprised many critics last year, finishing 6th in the WCC. Have their core players back and should be able to make a little noise with the extra year of seasoning. Could move up to 4 or 5.
7. San Francisco- Don’t expect big things from the Dons, as intimidating as their name sounds. This is the real unknown in the conference and could finish anywhere from 5-8. They had a number of established eligible players leave after last season, and have replaced with some solid if unspectacular players, so they are a tough to team to evaluate over the season right now.
8. Pepperdine- with Lorne Jackson returning from a season-ending injury last season, many expect the Pepperdine team to rebound into the middle of the conference, I am not one of those people. They have an extremely thin front line, and I am not a big believer in Jackson staying healthy through the conference schedule after his ACL tear last season.
9. Portland- The Pilots will struggle this year, and will be lucky to match the 7-24 record of last year.
There you have it, the West Coast Conference. Don’t forget to check back here next week as we look at another conference as things rev up in College Basketball. Until then, kick your feet up and watch some roundball.
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