West Coast Conference Tournament Preview and Predictions

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West Coast Conference Tournament
Photo Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the West Coast Conference Tournament.

Writers:

Aram Cannuscio

Pat McMahon

TJ Oxley

 

Full Bracket:

1st Round:

#8 LMU vs. #9 San Diego

#7 Santa Clara vs. #10 Portland

2nd Round:

#5 San Francisco vs. #8 LMU/#9 San Diego

#6 Pepperdine vs. #7 Santa Clara/#10 Portland

3rd Round:

#4 Pacific vs. #5 San Francisco/#8 LMU/#9 San Diego

#3 Saint Mary’s vs. #6 Pepperdine/#7 Santa Clara/#10 Portland

4th Round:

#1 Gonzaga vs. #4 Pacific/#5 San Francisco/#8 LMU/#9 San Diego

#2 BYU vs. #3 Saint Mary’s/#6 Pepperdine/#7 Santa Clara/#10 Portland

Who will win the West Coast Conference Tournament?

Aram: #2 BYU (24-7, 13-3 in the WCC)

I know that Gonzaga is the 2nd ranked team in the nation and I understand that they are the easy answer for who wins the title. But, I saw that BYU-Gonzaga game last time they played and BYU just completely outplayed them. I don’t think it was a fluke, I think Yoeli Childs was just the best player on the court and believe he’ll continue to be when they inevitably face in the Championship game again.

Pat: #1 Gonzaga (29-2, 15-1 in the WCC)

The Zags have had maybe the quietest 29 win regular season I’ve ever seen, as no one seems to be talking about how well this team has reloaded and how great of a coaching job this was from Mark Few. Winning one game to get to the final should be easy for the Bulldogs, where I think they take care of business in a statement like win over St. Mary’s or BYU.

TJ: #1 Gonzaga (29-2, 15-1 in the WCC)

It’s Gonzaga’s tourney to lose. They’re the number two team in the national AP poll and are 29-2 on the year. The Zags reloaded spectacularly after losing several contributors from last year’s team and this year they possess one of the most talented front courts in all of college basketball. A three headed monster consisting of the heavily improved Filip Petrusev, freshman Drew Timme, and the all around skilled veteran Kilian Tillie. The guard play has also been really good as both Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi are considered NBA prospects along with Petrusev and Tillie. The Zags have six players scoring in double figures and a seventh sitting at 9.6 ppg. This team isn’t just looking for a WCC title, their eyes are also set on a National title.

Which team is a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?

Aram: #6 Pepperdine (15-15, 8-8 in the WCC)

Man, Pepperdine hasn’t been the team I was hoping they’d be this season. I was hoping to see Kessler Edwards taking the step forward into becoming the best player on this team. While I think he is by far the best prospect, he just hasn’t taken over games. Still, Kessler has improved his game, his brother Kameron is still a load to deal with, and leading scorer Colbey Ross can get hot very quickly. Pepperdine will play teams tough and they could very realistically pull off some upsets.

Pat: #3 Saint Mary’s (24-7, 11-5 in the WCC)

The Gaels have been a bit overshadowed by Gonzaga and BYU, but this is still a really good team that will get a decent seed in the tournament. A third game versus BYU in the semis would be a great one, as the two teams split the regular season in a pair of close games. If they can get by BYU, Gonzaga would obviously be a huge challenge in the final, but St. Mary’s showed a lot of fight against them in their second match up and will certainly give the Zags all they could handle this time around.

TJ: #3 Saint Mary’s (24-7, 11-5 in the WCC)

Look out for Saint Mary’s here. The Gael’s have one of the best bucket getters in the nation in Jordan Ford. Him and forward Malik Fitts combine for a total scoring output of 38.1 ppg. Tanner Krebs and Dan Fotu will also play critical roles for St. Mary’s to have a chance. The Gaels have wins over power five teams such as California, Arizona State, and Wisconsin. They also have an impressive win over Utah State. If the Gaels can get Ford going in the tourney they’ll do some damage and improve their chances of being locked into the NCAA tournament.

Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?

Aram: Kessler Edwards, Sophomore F – Pepperdine

I was going to mention Yoeli Childs here, but I’m going to save my discussion of him for his scouting report that will be coming on our site by the end of the season. Kessler Edwards is the player I want to talk about. I am not sure if he’ll decide to declare, but there is a ton of potential in his game. He’s very athletic, physically gifted, and has great defensive instincts. There’s a chance that he could be a 2nd round pick if he declares this year or a late 1st rounder if he stays and improves his game further.

Pat: Killian Tillie, Senior F – Gonzaga

The skilled forward showed a ton of promise as a freshman coming off the bench for the national runner up Gonzaga team in 2017. Unfortunately for Tillie, his next two seasons were riddled with injuries, but he’s been able to stay healthy for the most part during his senior campaign and has been very impressive. Tillie does two things really well that NBA teams love- stretch the defense by knocking down threes, and rebounding. Tillie has one of the best pure jump shots in all of college hoops, regardless of position, and a deep run in March will do wonders for his already promising NBA hopes.

TJ: Filip Petrusev, Sophomore C/F – Gonzaga

Look at Gonzaga big Filip Petrusev. A former Montverde kid Petrusev plays strong down-low and is an overall solid athlete with a good frame for a modern day big. He has been a big reason for Gonzaga’s success this year. Petrusev excels at finishing through contact around the rim and has decent touch. The indicators are there that he will eventually be able to stretch out to the three point line. On the defensive end there have been flashes of him showing the ability to play as a rim protector. He possesses solid hands and has a good motor and attentiveness to grabbing rebounds. Right now Petrusev is lingering in the second round so a solid performance in the conference and NCAA tourney could boost his stock.

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