The shake up is in full effect. Here’s how things are going in the WCC as we move further away from Feast Week and barrel toward league play.
Team of the Week
G: Silas Melson — Gonzaga Bulldogs
A steady hand in Gonzaga’s backcourt all season long, the senior guard scored a career-high 21 points and posted an offensive rating of 195 against Creighton.
G: Zach Norvell Jr. — Gonzaga Bulldogs
Followed up a 17 point outing against Incarnate Word with a 21-point performance, all of which came in the second half, against Creighton.
F: Jahlil Tripp — Pacific Tigers (second appearance)
Tripp’s already had a big game against a good team, so his line of 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists says more about him than it does about the non-Div. I competition it came against.
F: Yoeli Childs — BYU Cougars (third appearance)
20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds over two games, both wins, last week. There’s no sophomore slump here.
C: Jock Landale — Saint Mary’s Gaels (second appearance)
The big man scored a career high 37 points in Monday’s win over Sacramento State.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-1)
Last week: W 103-68 vs. Incarnate Word, W 91-74 vs. No. 25 Creighton
This week: 12/5 vs. No. 4 Villanova (Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden), 12/10 at Washington
Gonzaga’s depth was on full display last week. Four Zags scored in double-figures against Incarnate Word, three of whom were bench players. Then against No. 25 Creighton usual starter Corey Kispert was out with an ankle injury. Freshman Zach Norvell Jr. stepped into the starting lineup and scored a career-high 21 points, all in the second half, to help the Zags pull out a come-from-behind victory.
Seven different Bulldogs scored in double-figures last week.
This week Gonzaga takes on the most efficient team in the country, the Villanova Wildcats, in Madison Square Garden before traveling to in-state rival Washington over the weekend.
2. BYU Cougars (6-2)
Last week: W 85-58 at Utah Valley, W 75-66 at Utah State
This week: 12/6 vs. Illinois State, 12/9 vs. Weber State (in Salt Lake City)
A couple of weeks ago BYU lost at home to UT Arlington and the sky was falling. Six days later the Cougars lost, 71-59, to then No. 25 Alabama on a neutral court — for what it’s worth UT Arlington lost by just one point at Alabama three days before the Cougars played the Crimson Tide.
Cut to last week there’s this tweet from the manager of SB Nation’s BYU site, Vanquish the Foe:
UVU is a good team; they had a 9 point halftime lead at Kentucky. They added a legit big that transferred from Oklahoma. Lot of people might be calling for Rose’s job after this game— Robby McCombs (@rtmccombs) November 30, 2017
Legitimate points about Utah Valley’s quality and the feelings about Dave Rose among the Cougar faithful. BYU missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. They’d missed the dance only twice before in Dave Rose’s 12 years at the helm.
But BYU won at Utah Valley, and won easily. And then the Cougars won at another in-state rival. This week they’ve got yet another in-state rival, Weber State, on a neutral court. Next week they’ll host their other, and biggest, in-state rival, Utah. If the Cougars enter conference play without picking up another loss they’ll be, amazingly, back in the at-large conversation.
3. Saint Mary’s Gaels (7-2)
Last week: W 74-63 at California, W 70-54 vs. Sacramento State
This week: 12/9 vs. Seattle
First off, I love this Saint Mary’s team. As a fan of mid-major basketball, this program is great. As a fan of college basketball, this team is great. This year, and for the better part of the last four seasons, they’ve played some of the most beautiful offense in all of basketball.
But, man their schedule is just garbage (like always). Since this year’s senior class arrived on campus in 2014 the Gaels have averaged just one non-conference game outside of the state of California per season. Win all your games and that’s not a problem. But when your response to losing to Washington State and Georgia, on a neutral court in Fullerton, is a win against Cal... you’d better hope that the Golden Bears aren’t having a down year.
The Golden Bears, which play their home games 14 miles by road from Saint Mary’s, are 3-5 with no good wins and a loss to Chaminade in the Maui Invitational. Barring a sweep of Gonzaga, or WCC Tournament title, the Gaels will be sweating on Selection Sunday once again.
4. San Diego Toreros (5-2)
Last week: L 66-57 vs. San Diego State, L 67-57 at UC Santa Barbara
This week: 12/6 at New Mexico State, 12/9 vs. Northern Arizona
San Diego entered last week as the lone undefeated team in the West Coast Conference. Back-to-back losses have put a damper on excitement, but a win on Wednesday at New Mexico State could get this team back on track.
5. Pacific Tigers (5-4)
Last week: W 57-55 at UC Riverside, W 105-68 vs. Arkansas-Fort Smith
This week: 12/6 at UC Davis, 12/9 at Wyoming
The Tigers picked up their second true road win of the season last week in a hard-fought battle at UC Riverside. Unfortunately that’s about the most notable thing about this Pacific team.
6. Loyola Marymount Lions (4-3)
Last week: W 87-66 vs. Cal State Los Angeles, L 78-74 at Oregon State
This week: 12/6 vs. Portland State, 12/9 at Cal State Northridge
Hey, a four point loss at at a Pac-12 gym. That’s pretty good, right? Well, actually it’s probably just LMU doing what LMU has done since last season. The Lions play everybody close, good teams and bad, and usually come up short.
7. San Francisco Dons (4-3)
Last week: L 79-72 vs. UC Santa Barbara, L 75-57 at Arizona State, W 78-76 vs. Central Arkansas
This week: 12/7 vs. Eastern Washington
Relative to expectations, no team in the WCC has been as disappointing as San Francisco. Impressive freshman Souley Boum has missed two straight games and preseason all-WCC sophomore Charles Minlend has yet to play this season. No word since the preseason from USF on Minlend, who was supposed to only miss the first week with a shoulder injury.
8. Santa Clara Broncos (3-5)
Last week: W 89-57 vs. Northern Arizona, W 72-57 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
This week: 12/9 vs. Portland State
Santa Clara’s three victories this season have come by an average of 32 points. But one was against a non-Div. I team (50 points). And the two last week came against teams ranked 336 in KenPom (32 points) and 347th (15 points). All three have been at home.
9. Pepperdine Waves (2-6)
Last week: L 88-82 vs. Southern Utah, L 91-81 at Cal Poly
This week: 12/5 vs. UC Riverside, 12/9 vs. Long Beach State
The Waves lost at home, by two possessions, to a team ranked 320th in KenPom last week. Senior point guard Amadi Udenyi, who I listed as a preseason second team all-WCC performer, has just 18 assists this season. And the Waves are even worse on the defensive side of the ball, where they’ve given up 80+ points in every game since the season opener.
10. Portland Pilots (3-5)
Last week: W 112-65 vs. Multnomah, L 77-54 at Boise State
This week: 12/6 vs. Cal State Fullerton, 12/9 vs. San Jose State
In five games against Division I competition Portland has made 60 two pointers and 58 three pointers. The Pilots have lost all five games.