Following the completion of last night’s round of games, we have officially reached the halfway point of the WCC conference schedule. Accordingly, it’s a good time to take a look at where things stand in the conference after 9 games.
No surprises at the top, with Gonzaga continuing to rule the roost with its unblemished record and Saint Mary’s entrenched in the second spot after getting run off the floor at The Kennel.
While BYU is in its customary third spot in the standings, Santa Clara moved even with the Cougars after securing a win last night against Eric Mika and company. However, the secondary tiebreaker gives BYU the slight edge for seeding-sake despite both teams winning a game against each other in the head-to-head.
Following a strong non-conference showing, the Dons have come back to earth a little bit. However, 4 of their 5 conference losses have been to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s (2x), and BYU, and I expect USF to make up ground in the second half of the conference slate with two games still to play against Pepperdine.
Between San Diego and Loyola Marymount, the Toreros theoretically own the best win with its victory at home against BYU, although the quality of that win is losing its luster with BYU’s current form. San Diego also has the edge in head-to-head between the two schools with nearly identical records, but LMU has some higher quality losses, if you believe in such a thing, after playing tough games against a then-healthy UConn team, Nevada, Boise St., and UT-Arlington.
The cellar dwellers in the WCC don’t have much going for them, though Gonzaga fans would acknowledge that Pacific and Portland didn’t exactly rollover for the Zags this season. Pepperdine is probably the most disappointing of the bunch, as the program seemed to be headed in the right direction during the Stacy Davis era.
Gonzaga still has both of its games to play against BYU, and while the Cougars don’t look nearly as strong as they have in recent years, they have been a tough matchup for the Zags and shouldn’t be overlooked despite KenPom giving the Zags a 90% chance of winning in Provo on February 2.
Of course, the last big date remaining on Gonzaga’s conference schedule is February 11 on the road in Moraga. The Gaels will be looking to channel Kanye West, and a Gonzaga win could knock Saint Mary’s out of the AP rankings.
However, as teams are discovering all around the country this week, conference play can be full of unexpected land mines. The Zags will be getting every team’s best shot as the lure of knocking off the nation’s last undefeated team can drive opponents to unexpected heights.