The third-seeded Pepperdine Waves look to live up to their seeding when they face the Santa Clara Broncos in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament on Saturday night. The game will be played at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Santa Clara (12-7) advanced to this game with an upset of sixth-seeded Pacific on Friday night, the Broncos’ second straight victory in the tournament. Seventh-seeded Santa Clara defeated 10th-seeded Portland in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday night.
The Broncos have now won three of four, including an 86-82 win over Pepperdine on Feb. 20. That was the only meeting between these two schools this season.
Pepperdine (11-11) comes into this one off a win at San Diego in its regular-season finale, snapping a three-game losing streak. The victory clinched the Waves’ first winning record in WCC play since 2016.
If you’re going to be online betting on this game, Pepperdine is a 3½-point favorite, with the over-under set at 150.
Pepperdine Waves: On A Roll
There is always a team in a tournament that exceeds expectations by getting hot, even if they’re not able to push that to a title. The Broncos certainly have started fast, but they would need three more wins to get a West Coast Conference tournament title and the automatic berth to NCAA March Madness.
Against Pacific, it was senior forward Josip Vrankic rebounding from a subpar tournament opener to score 24 points, as the Broncos shot 55.4% from the field in topping the Tigers for the first time this season. Junior forward Guglielmo Caruso added 14 points as Santa Clara had four players in double figures.
Vrankic leads the Broncos in scoring this season, averaging 15.2 points per game while grabbing a team-high 8.1 rebounds per contest. Jalen Williams and Keshawn Justice chipped in 11.4 and 11.3 points per game, respectively, with Williams leading the team with 2.5 assists per contest.
Santa Clara has been a solid defensive team this season, ranking second in the West Coast Conference in opponents’ field-goal percentage (.414) and opponents’ 3-point field-goal percentage (.323). The Broncos held Pacific to 7-of-25 shooting from beyond the arc in Friday’s win.
New Heights for Pepperdine
Pepperdine is holding its best seed since the 2004 tournament and is hoping to make some college basketball news and live up to the seeding by advancing at least to the semifinals. The Waves are led by a two-headed duo that is made up of two All-West Coast Conference players.
Senior guard Colbey Ross leads the Waves with 18.0 points and 7.5 assists per game. Ross was fourth in the WCC in scoring and led the conference in assists per game. Ross is shooting 36.3% from 3-point range and is one of three Waves players to have 33 or more 3-pointers this season with a team-high 37.
Junior forward Kessler Edwards is the other All-WCC player for Pepperdine, averaging 16.6 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds. Edwards has hit 36 3-pointers and is averaging just over one block and one steal per game.
Sophomore forward Jan Zidek is also a dangerous scorer off the bench for coach Lorenzo Romar, averaging 9.5 points per game and hitting a team-best 37.9% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Zidek had 26, including hitting 8-of-10 3-pointers, in the Waves’ regular-season finale against San Diego. If Santa Clara focuses on shutting down Ross and Edwards, Zidek could be the player to step up for the Waves.
Santa Clara Broncos Run Is Done
Santa Clara has done well to advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament, but its run is more than likely over after this game. Pepperdine just has too much offensive firepower for the Broncos to shut down.
Although Santa Clara is going to be brimming with confidence heading into this one, expect Pepperdine to take over in the second half and advance easily. When doing your college basketball betting, take the Waves to win and cover.