As dreams of a high seed fill the heads of Gonzaga fans everywhere, it is important to remember one thing: there are still four West Coast Conference teams that would love nothing more than to wreck Gonzaga's fantastic season. First up are the dangerous Broncos of Santa Clara. The 19-8 Broncos are paced by the dynamic duo of Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini are a team that knows how to, and is capable of, pull the big upset. While the win over Saint Mary's last week was a huge hurdle to get over for this team, their work is far from over.
While Santa Clara has a very respectable record this season, they are lacking a premier conference win. Thus far this year, they are 0-4 against the top three teams in the conference. They have two more chances in the regular season against the Zags and then against Saint Mary's on March 2nd. For the Broncos to pull the upset, they will need a big night from star guard Kevin Foster. The senior guard has been one of the most prolific scorers in the West Coast Conference and he did his part when these two teams hooked up in January. In Santa Clara's 81-74 loss to Gonzaga, Foster scored 29 points on 10-24 shooting from the floor. As you can tell from that line, Foster is a volume shooter as he is shooting just 39% from the floor on the year. He's heavily relied on by Kerry Keating's club and will get a bulk of the action Wednesday night.
While the Zags will benefit from being in the friendly confines of the McCarthey Athletic Center, it is important to remember that Santa Clara gave them everything they could handle back in January. Foster had one heck of a game and the Broncos kept it very close deep into the second half. With about seven minutes to play, it was a four point ball game before the Zags, most specifically Kelly Olynyk, made some big plays down the stretch. Olynyk wound up with a career high 33 points in the game and led the Zags to a hard fought victory in Santa Clara.
This time around, it will be hopefully some more of the same with less Foster daggers in the first half. The senior guard had 17 points in the first half of the last game and I expect the Zags to employ a similar defensive look to what they showed against Saint Mary's in the second half of that game. The only drawback of that gameplan is that the Broncos have Marc Trasolini who is significantly more skilled than any post player Saint Mary's brought out. If the Zags throw everything at Foster, then Trasolini will have no problem burying the Bulldogs.
While I expect this to be closer than most fans, I continue to believe the Zags will run the table in conference play behind the skill of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Olynyk likely won't have 33 points and I think we see Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell continue to play well as the Zags roll to their 26th win which, for good measure, ties a Gonzaga record for the most regular season wins in school history.