As the clock struck midnight, I had a vision. A prophecy of an event that would end decades of brutality and despair.
High rising ocean tides covering large white sandy beaches clouded my mind. I saw something reminiscent of David killing Goliath.
I saw Buster Douglass knocking out Tyson; the U.S. beating Russia in hockey, and now the last place Pepperdine Waves upsetting Gonzaga? The Bulldogs have beat the Waves 44 straight times. The Waves host the Bulldogs this Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Can the Waves beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 20 years on its 45th try?
My gut is telling me something weird is going to happen — credit to my gut, I did bet on Middle Tennessee as 24-to-1 underdog to beat Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
It’s college basketball anything can happen.
Let’s break this thing down.
For context, Gonzaga’s dominance for Pepperdine is quite astounding, even for the Bulldogs standards. Gonzaga’s 44 straight wins against Pepperdine is the longest active win streak against a single opponent in the history of college basketball. Gonzaga has risen to a national powerhouse and Pepperdine typically lives in the bottom half of the conference. Over the course of this period Gonzaga has made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, nine straight Sweet 16s, three Final Fours, and has had countless of NCAA All-Americans.
Pepperdine’s last NCAA Tournament appearance came in the same year they beat Gonzaga, 88-79, at Firestone Fieldhouse on Jan. 18, 2002.
The Pepperdine Waves come into the contest as 16-point underdogs. According to ESPN’s gamecast the Waves have 8.9% chance to win this game. Gonzaga is coming off its most dominant win of the season where it annihilated LMU 108-65. The game went analytically final before the first half ended. On the other side Pepperdine has a 9-26 overall record and 2-11 in conference play.
Outside of my crazy hallucinations why give the Waves a chance??
The Prime Lookahead Spot
Pepperdine is never going to get Gonzaga in a better lookahead spot. The Bulldogs are coming off their most dominating win of the season against LMU. They got their revenge!
Everyone is saying Gonzaga is back. Drew Timme only had to play for a half. They are finally getting to a point where they feel good about themselves. It makes them forget the fact Gonzaga has played more single-digit conference game this season than the last six years combined.
We are not forgetting that this isn’t the Gonzaga team of recent memory.
Then, they had a Friday night in the L.A. area. They are enjoying the warmer weather. The game is not on national TV, and it’s in a weird 4 p.m. local start. I mentioned before, Pepperdine is 2-11 in conference. Are the Zags really taking this team Pepperdine seriously? Then, add in the fact it’s their last road game of the year, and they have Saint Mary’s coming up next weekend at home.
This isn’t the Gonzaga of old (the defense is bad)
I’m not going to take anything away from Gonzaga. They are still good. This year’s team is a huge drop in class from what we normally see from them though.
Gonzaga has struggled guarding guys that can penetrate. Timme is a liability when he switches onto anyone outside. Pepperdine has four different guys who can handle the ball and they can ball screen you to death. Gonzaga ranks in the bottom 200 in opponent field goal percentage for the first in Mark Few’s tenure. Thankfully for the Zags, they produce the nation’s most efficient offense to make up for those shortcomings. If Gonzaga runs into a poor shooting night and Timme gets in foul trouble, things can get interesting here.
Pepperdine has WAY more talent than its record indicates
I’m not saying Pepperdine has the talent advantage here, but we have to recognize the Waves have some dudes.
Most notably, Maxwell Lewis, who an NBA scout recently shared with me that he thinks he is going to be a first l-round pick. He’s going to have a chance to prove being matched up against Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther, who is another projected first-round pick.
Before you start raiding the comment section of how dumb he is or I am, just look into Lewis for a moment. Lewis is an athletic long wing who can slash and shoot. Lewis is averaging 17.6 points 5.8 rebounds and shoots 48% from the floor. He also ranks in the top-200 nationally in fouls drawn and block percentage. He’s definitely the type of guy who can carry the team, but the Waves aren't a one-man show with Lewis.
Sophomore guard Houston Mallette averages 13.4 points per game. Mallette was named to the WCC All-Freshman last season and was an McDonalds All-American nominee coming out of high school.
Then, add in 6-foot-11 athletic forward Jevon Porter, who averages 11 and seven. Sophomore guard Mike Mitchell shoots 40% from 3-point land. The Waves showed some of that promising talent by beating BYU, 88-80, at home.
This is not your usual last place WCC team.
I woke up with a gut feeling something incredibly strange was going to happen in college basketball this Saturday. Sometimes you just have to put your mouth where your gut is. While LMU’s upset against Gonzaga was incredible earlier this year, a Waves upset against Gonzaga may top that.
A lot of things are going to have to go right for the Waves to pull this one off, and I think they have the chops to make a miracle happen. If the Waves pull the upset, we might be finally call Gonzaga a mid-major — at least for this season.