The West Coast Conference won six games to just one loss last night. It was a busy and successful night for the league. It was non-conference play to perfection, and four games stood out. In those four, WCC schools took on in-state rivals and won. All four WCC teams are legitimate contenders — just kidding, only Gonzaga is — but all four teams might be actually good, at the very least.
In fact, all four teams are actually good. That is not to say all four will be treated with the respect they deserve, as you’ll learn.
Anyway, let’s break it down. Here are the most important takeaways from the most important games out west last night.
No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs 81, Washington Huskies 79
Programs that want to be legitimate programs need to play regional teams of their ilk. Washington and Gonzaga both want to be legitimate programs, and both teams are from the same state. This rivalry was dormant for a decade. Three years into the reboot, it’s back.
Gonzaga is No. 1 in the nation. Washington is... whatever.
This should have been a blowout, especially since it was in Spokane. But this is a rivalry, and it was damn entertaining.
“We are the top dog in the state,” Gonzaga guard Corey Kispert, a native of suburban Seattle, said after the game. “This is what we do. We beat UW.”
Again, the No. 1 team in the country is proud that it beat an unranked team at home. College basketball, man. This is fun.
Also, Rui Hachimura is fun too:
BYU Cougars 95, Utah State Aggies 80
Nick Emery is BACK!
Okay, maybe it’s more like he’s just “back” in lower case, because his 11 points on Wednesday night weren’t earth shattering, even though that goes against the narrative I might be trying to create.
But really, the Cougars looked actually good for the first time all season. Emery went 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from three in his first game action since March of 2017. The team as a whole shot 11-24 from three, their best performance so far, which was good enough to vault the Cougars all the way to... second worst in three point percentage (30%) in the WCC this season.
At least it’s a step in the right direction!
The Aggies are good, and the Cougars looked good against them. Until this point, BYU has only looked good against teams ranked below 300 in KenPom. Utah State was No. 54 when it lost to BYU. There’s hope in Provo.
The Toreros needed this win. After coming up literally an inch short at Washington, and then falling on the road to Ole Miss in a game Yauhen Massalski played just three minutes before getting injured, the Toreros were 0-2 in games that could have been “signature” wins.
That three point, final possession loss at Washington happened at full strength. But the loss at Mississippi, as I said, didn’t. Since then, the Toreros have picked up a road win against a top-100 team. Massalski (7.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game) should be back for the Toreros’ trip to Oregon on December 12. If he is, and if they win, the selection committee is going to need to take note.
San Diego sits at 7-2 on the season, with two losses on the road to power conference teams, and a pair of good wins. Win at Oregon next week, and take care of business beyond that — which means get swept by Gonzaga, maybe lose at USF or BYU, and win out otherwise — and the Toreros will be deserving of an at-large bid.
The Bay Area belongs to the Dons.
Cal was sitting at 29 points with 12 minutes to play, at home. That’s a Pac-12 team, on its own floor, scoring a point a minute against a WCC team. Which means, in the simplest of terms, the Dons’ defense is legit.
The Dons are legit. Honestly.
They’re now 8-1 on the season. That one loss? Against a Buffalo team on a neutral court on another continent.
But they don’t really have a signature win on their resume yet — their only top-150 win is at home over Harvard — and at this point they can’t get one outside of WCC play. Which is especially hurtful considering they’re the second best team in the league, per KenPom.
The problem is: They just beat Cal on the road and it doesn’t matter because Cal sucks.
San Francisco scheduled really aggressively. But the schedule fell apart, figuratively and literally. The Dons landed games against Cal, Stanford, Harvard and Stephen F. Austin. But all four programs are shells of their former selves right now. The game against Buffalo in Belfast ended up being the team’s only real shot in the non-con.
That’s because a game against Arizona State was postponed due to wildfires and might not be rescheduled (which is totally on the Sun Devils at this point).
Boil all that down and you’ve got a team that has all the pieces, that tried as hard as it could to prove it, sitting on the outside looking in despite an 8-1 record. Coming off a road win in Berkeley. This isn’t right.
And, speaking of not right. Here’s someone who should know better knowing absolutely nothing and getting immediately owned by San Francisco’s athletic director for not being right:
Get your facts straight. Start of a 3 game series. Home/Home/Neutral. Again, do the research before putting out fake hoops news. Go Dons.— Scott Sidwell (@USFDonsAD) December 6, 2018