While it's true that Gonzaga kicked off WCC play with a convincing home victory over Portland, the home matchup with Pepperdine on Thursday marks the true beginning of the two-month WCC grind. Although many people will assume that the trio of Gonzaga, BYU and St. Mary's will be competing for the WCC title, the thing that makes conference play so enticing is that the familiarity between the teams can lead to unpredictable results.
Pepperdine enters this game on the heels of a home split in its two-game set with San Francisco and St. Mary's. After an impressive victory over USF in the opening game, the Waves weren't able to keep pace with the Gaels, as they fell 74-45. The 45 points shouldn't come as a huge surprise, as the offensive end of the court is where Pepperdine really struggles. The Waves currently rank 312th in the NCAA, averaging only 60.8 ppg.
The two guys to keep an eye on in this game are Taylor Darby and Corbin Moore, who form a tough and talented frontcourt. Darby leads the Waves with 12.1 ppg, while Moore controls the boards with a team-high 8.8 rpg. The duo has decent size and plays hard, which is vital for any big guy. One thing that is certain is that Darby and Moore won't backdown from the Gonzaga frontcourt and will test Robert Sacre and Elias Harris on both ends of the court. With that said, the Waves don't possess a great amount of depth and will struggle to deal with the size and athleticism Gonzaga presents.
Pepperdine continues to slowly build a program that has consistently improved its depth and talent over the past couple of years. However, I don't think the Waves are quite at the point where they are capable of coming into Spokane and challenging Gonzaga for 40 minutes. Since I don't expect there to be any New Year's Eve hangover, Gonzaga should come away with an 80-54 win.