As Gonzaga prepares to host Pepperdine in their WCC home finale, the Zags know they can wrap up another WCC championship with a victory. True the Zags have technically already clinched a share of the title, but who wants to share a championship? Gonzaga looked terrific against LMU on Thursday, and one has to hope that this team will play with the same aggressivness and attitude that was on display against the Lions. Today has already seen top 25 teams like North Carolina and UCLA suffer from the upset bug, which means that Gonzaga has an excellent opportunity to boost their tournament resume by simply winning games that they should.
In order to clinch yet another WCC title, the Zags must take care of the young and improving Pepperdine Waves. Entering WCC play, Pepperdine was a paltry 3-13, and it wasn't clear if the cellar of the WCC was going to belong to the Waves or the Lions. However, under new head coach Tom Asbury, Pepperdine has been one of the main surprises of the WCC with a 5-6 record at this point.
Pepperdine is led by fantastic freshman Keion Bell. It's a shame that not many people are familiar with the 6'3 guard, but I can promise you that he will be a household name in the next couple of years. Bell leads the Waves in scoring at 12.7 points per game, and he also collects a solid 4.4 rebounds per game. Keion has scored in double-digits the past 9 games, including a career high 32 against USF. Much like Vernon Teal at LMU, Bell is a player the Zags must prevent from getting hot, because he has the ability to simply take over a game. The Waves also rely on the struggling Mychal Thompson. Thompson is averaging 9.8 points per game, but much more was expected from him after a strong freshman year.
Although Pepperdine has shown significant signs of improvement, they are still a couple of years away from being a threat in the WCC. They like the size and depth to compete with Gonzaga at this point, especially when the Zags are playing tough man-to-man defense and aggressive offense. I expect to see a great performance from Micah Downs, and a focus on getting the ball to Josh Heytvelt in the post. However, this should be a team performance from the Zags, and they will emerge with a 88-56 victory.