Let’s keep this quick. Work is busy but we need a place to talk about tonight, because tonight the Gonzaga Bulldogs will take part in the WCC Conference Tournament for the 18th consecutive year. They will do that tonight against the BYU Cougars and it is primed for the perfect end to a near perfect season.
I say near perfect season because BYU messed that whole narrative up on Senior Night and the final game of the regular season. Gonzaga’s forever-home game winning streak ended by three points and moved BYU from the wrong end of the bubble to potentially the right end of the bubble.
They did so with big games from Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth, not done becoming a household name, went on ahead and registered yet another triple-double last night against Portland to set the NCAA record. Haws just did his scoring routine and Chase Fischer added 24 points in an easy win for the Cougars. BYU raced on ahead early, and built up a large enough lead, luckily. Because, like most BYU games, the defense didn’t hold too strong and Portland was able to whittle it down, slightly, but not enough.
Gonzaga, as we saw once again, struggled to put together 40 minutes of quality basketball. The first half went alright, outside of foul concerns, but Pepperdine stayed close with well-timed wonky shots and random loose balls ending up in their hands. Then, the second half began. Byron Wesley and Kyle Wiltjer combined for 25 of the Zags first 30 points of the half, and the game was over. Gonzaga demonstrated in a big way that its offense is ready to go when it needs to be, and the door was shut on Pepperdine.
There is still a lot riding on the court for both teams in this game. If Gonzaga wins, the Bulldogs seemed to be assured of a two-seed and a home round in the friendly confines of Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. If BYU wins, they won’t have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday and will automatically punch its ticket into the NCAA Tournament. If Gonzaga loses, who knows how far they will drop on the bracket – down to a three seed almost assuredly, possibly a fourth seed depending on how other tournaments shake out. If BYU loses, is that one win over Gonzaga enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament?
This is college basketball storylines at its finest and this should be one of the better games all season. Let’s savor it, because it has been a delightful run this year.