While neither Max or I are the biggest flag-bearers for the West Coast Conference, after all the discussion over the past week about Gonzaga's argument for the No. 1 seed, I would have to call this conference 'underrated'. The newly-dubbed underrated WCC had a fantastic night last night and, as Gonzaga fans, the BYU victory was a two-for-one as the Cougars ousted the dreadful Washington Huskies.
-- In the big tournament's opening night, it was the Gaels of Saint Mary's that stole the show as their potent backcourt put on a show against MIddle Tennessee State. Randy Bennett's squad advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 67-54 win over the Blue Raiders. Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen Holt were outstanding as they combined for 40 points on 7-10 shooting from three. As CBS' Jeff Borzello writes, it was the experience that drove the Gaels to the win:
That experience helped Saint Mary's weather the storm and pull away down the stretch for a 67-54 win over Middle Tennessee. The Gaels advanced to play Memphis in the Round of 64 on Thursday.
"It definitely helps that we had a little bit of experience in the tournament," said senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who finished with 22 points. "The main thing that sort of helped our guys out there was just like the travel and all the other stuff that kind of goes with it."
-- In the NIT, it was WCC newcomer BYU that were on display and, my goodness, did they look good. The Cougars were firing on all cylinders as they smoked the Huskies and scored 90 points to UW's 79. Tyler Haws, Brandon Davies, and Matt Carlino combined to equal Washington's total point count with 79. Haws led the way with 37 points on the night. While he never really looked like it against Gonzaga, Haws truly is one of the better pure scorers to come through the conference in quite a bit of time. Talented big Brandon Davies also came up big with 22 points and Matt Carlino added 20 of his own. As our colleagues over at 'Vanquish The Foe' says, Carlino is the X-factor if BYU wants to win the NIT:
BYU will need great performances from all three of those guys if they hope to punch a ticket to New York for the NIT semifinals. It's not out of the realm of possibility - they are in a weak bracket to begin with, and they have another home game coming up in the second round - but they will need their "Big Three" to get them there, which means that the Cougars will only go so far as Carlino can take them.
More often than not, Cougar fans know what they are getting from Haws and Davies on any given night. They are known quantities. Matt is the wild card. When he plays well, BYU wins. When he doesn't, things get dicey. But make no mistake, the team desperately needs a third scorer to step up in order to succeed - and a season's worth of games has proven that no one else is really capable of doing it. It's Carlino or bust.
A Few Gonzaga Clippings...
How No. 1 will fall: Gonzaga - Men's College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
ESPN's Myron Medcalf is examining the weak spots in each of the No. 1 seeds. For the Zags, he rightfully calls out the Zags dependence on Kelly Olynyk and how long, athletic bigs can give the Bulldogs trouble. I tend to think some older stereotypes creep into Medcalf's head in terms of his thoughts on the Zags but, for the most part, it is decent.
Is Gonzaga's underachiever label in NCAAs unfair? | Gonzaga | The Seattle Times
2013 NCAA tournament West scenarios: Best and worst cases for Gonzaga, rest of pack - Yahoo! Sports
From Yahoo! Sports: Mark Few's program will either do what it's never done before, or could fall well short again.