The West Coast Conference has been all about the race for second place since Gonzaga emerged as not only the beast of the WCC but a national championship contender.
Brigham Young, Saint Mary’s, and San Francisco are a combined 32-1 at home so far this season helping them stay in the top half of the WCC standings. Saint Mary’s and San Francisco will meet on Thursday in one of the most compelling matchups in the conference.
The biggest question coming out of the WCC is whether national championship favorite Gonzaga can finish the job that it couldn’t get done a season ago.
Game of the Week
Saint Mary’s Gaels at San Francisco Dons
- Date, time: Thursday, January 27, 10 p.m. ET
Gonzaga casts a shadow over the rest of the West Conference Conference with the possible exception of Brigham Young. However, Saint Mary’s (15-4, 3-1 in the WCC) and San Francisco (16-4, 3-2) are right in the mix of the WCC race. The teams are a combined 22-1 at home so advantage San Francisco in this one although the Gaels have won each of the last four games and covered in each of them.
This could come down to the pace of play. USF has the edge in points scored thanks to recording more steals and blocked shots per game while Saint Mary’s is the better defensive team.
The Dons’ Jamaree Bouyea is averaging 20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in home games this season while Logan Johnson of St. Mary’s has nine steals over his last five games.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown in the WCC for those who bet online.
Brigham Young Cougars
Brigham Young (17-4, 5-1) hits the road to face Santa Clara on Thursday in a game airing on ESPNU. The Cougars will be back on ESPNU Saturday when they travel to meet a struggling Pacific squad.
The Cougars have won the last four games against Santa Clara and have topped 80 points in each. With a game at Gonzaga coming up in early February, the Cougars will need to take care of business to remain in striking range of the first-place Bulldogs.
BYU has been winning but not running away with things since a loss to Gonzaga on January 13 as the Cougars have failed to cover against the college basketball spreads in three of their last four games.
Alex Barcello is averaging 17 points and 3.5 assists over his last four games.
No team is a bigger favorite to win the conference title than the Bulldogs among Division I men’s teams. BYU was thought to be the team with the best chance to challenge but when the teams met on BYU’s home court, Gonzaga won by 26 points.
The Bulldogs (15-2, 4-0) have won eight games in a row since a loss to Alabama in nearby Seattle. The Bulldogs have been favored by at least 10 points in each of those games and while the closest contest during the streak has been just 14 points, Gonzaga did fail to cover three times.
The Bulldogs will be on CBS Sports Network to play host to Loyola Marymount on Thursday while Portland comes to town on Saturday.
Gonzaga’s last loss to LMU came in 2010 although they have failed to cover in five of the last six meetings due to the gaudy point spreads. The Bulldogs have won 13 straight against Portland.
Gonzaga kicked off 2022 by scoring 117, 110, and 115 points in its first three games in January.
National Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme is averaging 28.3 on 69% shooting over the last three games.
Drew Timme scored 23 points, Chet Holmgren added 22 and top-ranked Gonzaga beat San Francisco 78-62 in a makeup game after their Jan. 6 contest was postponed by COVID-19 issues.https://t.co/xjPhSpXYdj
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) January 21, 2022
Loyola Marymount Lions
Two days after making the trip to face second-ranked Gonzaga, the Lions (9-8, 2-3) will be home to face San Diego. The Lions have won three of the last four games in the series while five of the last eight games have gone over the total.
Six of the Lions’ last nine games have gone under the total set by the Las Vegas odds.
Eli Scott has scored more than 20 points in three of his last five games including going off for 31 points and 10 rebounds in an overtime win over Pepperdine.
Pacific (5-12, 0-3) will make the trek to Portland on Thursday before returning home to face second-place Brigham Young on Saturday. The Tigers have won the last nine games, including four straight at home. The last two times Pacific played host to Portland, the Tigers won by a combined total of 47 points.
The Tigers have dropped seven games in a row to BYU but are 4-4 against the spread over the last eight meetings.
Pierre Crockwell II hadn’t scored more than 14 points in any game this season before letting loose with 24 in a loss to San Diego the last time out. He also has 26 assists and 11 turnovers in his last five games.
Pepperdine (6-15, 0-6) heads to San Diego on Thursday and then will play at Saint Mary’s on Saturday. That could be an issue since the Waves have lost their last seven road games. Pepperdine is 7-1 in its last eight road games against San Diego and has covered in eight straight games at USD. The Waves have covered in the last 10 games at Saint Mary’s even though they are just 2-8 in those contests.
Pepperdine is 0-7 on the road.
Leading scorer Jan Sidek had his streak of 11 consecutive double-digit scoring games snapped when he had only four points in Saturday’s loss to San Francisco.
Portland is 9-3-1 against the spread in its last 13 games against WCC heavyweight Gonzaga even though the Pilots lost each of those games. Each of the last six games in the series has gone over the total.
Portland (10-9, 1-3) will face Pacific on Saturday and the recent results in that one aren’t particularly promising for the Pilots either as they have dropped nine straight although they have covered against the spread in two of the four road games during that losing streak.
The trio of Chris Austin, Tyler Robertson and Moses Wood average between 13.9-14.5 points per game and each of them brings in more than five rebounds per contest.
Saint Mary’s Gaels
After facing San Francisco on Thursday, the Gaels will play host to a six-win Pepperdine team.
The Gaels have won five of their last six games and are 4-1-1 against the spread during that stretch of games. The Gaels are 5-0 at home since the start of December with only one of those games decided by fewer than 10 points.
Alex Ducas has scored in double figures in each of his last five games including matching a season-high with 22 points in Saturday’s win over Loyola Marymount.
San Diego Toreros
San Diego (11-9, 4-3) will welcome Pepperdine on Thursday looking to improve to a 7-2 record at home. The Toreros have failed to cover the last eight times Pepperdine came to town and the only straight-up victory during that time came in 2017.
San Diego has covered in five of the last seven games against Loyola Marymount while four of the last five meetings have been decided by six points or less.
Marcellus Earlington is averaging 15.3 points and 8.5 rebounds over his last six games.
San Francisco Dons
Not only will San Francisco (16-4, 3-2) get a tough test against St. Mary’s but Saturday’s home game against Santa Clara will be no walk in the park as three of the last five games between the teams have been determined by single digits. USF has won the last three and five of the last six against Santa Clara.
It’s been a pretty streaky season for the Dons who saw three straight games against Division I opponents go under the total, the next three went over and the last three contests have all gone under.
Yauhen Massalski has 24 blocked shots over his last nine games including a pair of five-block contests.
Santa Clara Broncos
Santa Clara (12-7, 2-2) will welcome BYU on Thursday. Whether the Broncos play the Cougars home or away, the results have been rather forgettable with just one win in the last 20 meetings. Santa Clara has covered in the last two matchups for BYU.
Six of the last seven games against San Francisco have finished under the total. That includes Santa Clara’s last win at San Francisco on January 18, 2018.
Josip Vrankic had 22 points as Santa Clara topped San Diego 78-74 in overtime on Monday.