Due to finals week, there wasn’t as much action in WCC as there usually is. Wins were few and far between for the league, save for the teams at the top of this week’s rankings.
Team of the Week
G: Elijah Bryant (fourth appearance) - BYU Cougars
A 29 point, nine rebound performance against Utah earned Bryant WCC Player of the Week honors and a season-high fourth appearance on our Team of the Week.
G: Josh Perkins (second appearance) - Gonzaga Bulldogs
The junior point guard went for 20 points and seven assists against North Dakota, and has hit exactly 50% of his three pointers this season (39 of 78).
G: KJ Feagin - Santa Clara Broncos
Averaged 17 points per game against quality opponents in USC and Valpo. The lone bright spot in Santa Clara.
F: Killian Tillie (fourth appearance) - Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Frenchman went for a career high 27 points, despite coming off the bench, against IUPUI.
C: Jock Landale (fourth appearance) - Saint Mary’s Gaels
25 points and 10 rebounds in the win over UC Irvine. Another big game from the big man.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-2)
Last week: W 89-83 (OT) vs North Dakota, W 101-71 vs. IUPUI
This week: 12/21 at San Diego State
Gonzaga played two terrible defenses last week and committed 17 turnovers in each game. Not exactly an encouraging look for the No. 12 ranked team in the country. Mark Few didn’t seem too phased by it though. After the near-upset against North Dakota, Few pulled Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie from the starting lineup. Tillie went for a career high 27 points and Williams was the Zags’ second leading scorer with 17.
“It’s my prerogative,” Few said about his lineup decision. “It’s what I get to do.”
Well, he’s the reigning AP National Coach of the Year, and he went 2-0 last week so, sure.
2. BYU Cougars (9-2)
Last week: W 77-65 vs. Utah
This week: 12/21 vs. Idaho State, 12/23 vs. Texas Southern
The Cougars easily handled their arch-rivals on Saturday in Provo, which should be the cherry on top of a beautiful non-conference performance. This week sees the Cougars host teams with a combined 4-17 record. BYU is off to its best start since joining the West Coast Conference, and an 11-2 record entering conference play seems likely. And remember, BYU was picked a distant third in the preseason poll.
3. Saint Mary’s Gaels (9-2)
Last week: W 73-66 vs. UC Irvine
This week: 12/19 vs. Dayton, 12/22 vs. UNC Asheville
Dayton’s down, considerably, in its first season without Archie Miller. The Flyers are 5-5 and far from a contender in an equally down Atlantic 10. UNC Asheville made the NCAA Tournament two years ago, but the Bulldogs are 6-5 and trending in the wrong direction. Still, according to KenPom these are the third and fourth best teams the Gaels will face outside of WCC play.
4. San Diego Toreros (8-3)
Last week: W 69-59 at Colorado, L 86-83 (OT) vs. North Texas
This week: 12/22 vs. Life Pacific
San Diego went to Colorado and completely controlled the game in a Pac-12 gym. And suddenly people were heaping praise on the Toreros. Maybe they got a little too high on themselves, because a bad North Texas team went into the Slim Gym on Saturday and picked San Diego off. It looks like a blip, but maybe the Colorado game was one too.
5. San Francisco Dons (6-4)
Last week: W 74-61 vs. UC Davis, L 71-59 at Stanford
This week: 12/19 vs. Radford, 12/22 vs. Duquesne (in Las Vegas), 12/23 vs. Nevada (in Las Vegas)
Still no word on Charles Minlend’s shoulder. He’s why the Dons were picked fourth in the preseason, but he’s yet to play this year. If the Dons don’t win two of their three games this week, and if he doesn’t come back, it will be time to sell stock in San Francisco.
6. Loyola Marymount Lions (5-5)
Last week: L 80-78 at Washington
This week: 12/22 vs. Cal State Fullerton
Last season the Lions lost seven games and won five games by six points or fewer. Of those six losses, four came to KenPom top-100 teams. Of those five games, four came to KenPom bottom-100 teams.
This season they’ve lost three games by six or fewer points and won two. The results are again, baffling. The close losses all came on the road: at UT Arlington, Oregon State and Washington. The wins, to a pair of terrible teams: Incarnate Word and McNeese State.
Nobody gets teams to play to the level of their competition like Mike Dunlap has over the past year and a half.
7. Pacific Tigers (5-7)
Last week: L 81-76 vs. UNLV
This week: 12/22 at No. 5 Arizona State
The Tigers played host to UNLV on Saturday, and only lost by five points. Not a bad loss, but unfortunately it says more about the Rebels than the Tigers. UNLV has fallen off quite a cliff since that national championship winning season in 1990. Also, props to Pacific for putting together a pretty decent non-con slate.
8. Pepperdine Waves (3-8)
Last week: L 79-62 at Belmont
This week: 12/19 at Weber State
Why did Pepperdine jump from ninth to eighth? Because they hit 22 of 30 shots from inside the arc at Belmont, and Belmont is good. The Waves have committed themselves to getting the ball inside. They score 58.6% of their points from inside the arc, which is 12th most in the nation. It’s good to have an identity, I guess.
9. Portland Pilots (4-7)
Last week: L 89-76 at Seattle
This week: 12/19 vs. Hartford, 12/21 vs. Sacramento State (in Sacramento)
Portland hasn’t been above No. 300 in KenPom all season long. The Pilots now sit at No. 313. Outside of the PK80, which they participated in by geographic luck alone, the Pilots haven’t faced a single top-150 KenPom team. Bad team, bad schedule. Pilots might be on the worst path of any WCC team.
10. Santa Clara Broncos (3-8)
Last week: L 82-59 at USC, L 76-68 vs. Valparaiso
This week: 12/21 vs. San Jose State
The Broncos didn’t look bad against Valparaiso with 50% shooting inside the arc and 38% from deep. Still, they’ve yet to beat a team with more than one Division I win. That’s a terrible resume.