Busting Brackets

West Coast Conference: Gonzaga Bulldogs Top WCC Power Rankings


With the preseason strength of schedule games nearly concluded, December is showing who is hot and who is not in the West Coast Conference.

Gonzaga – It should be a no brainer that the Gonzaga Bulldogs will finish first in the conference, but the Zags’ are vulnerable for the first time in many years despite their NCAA Elite Eight finish in the spring of 2015.

With Przmek “Shem” Karnowski on the bench with back pain in an as yet undisclosed location and without a firm date for Shem to resume playing, the Zags have been struggling to keep pace with the rest of the ranked teams, beating UConn (73-70) but losing to UCLA (66-71), Texas A&M (61-62) and Arizona (63-68).

The win against Tennessee in Seattle will hopefully stop the transitory bleed before the start of conference play before it becomes a full scale hemorrhage.

BYU- BYU might be positioned to unseat Gonzaga from the #1 spot they have enjoyed for years. Always part of the #1, #2 conversation in the WCC and a consistent NCAA tournament pick, BYU might be the WCC champion this year. The Cougars have not fared much better than Gonzaga against Pac-12 teams in preseason play, losing to Utah (75-83) and Colorado (83-92).

Pepperdine-The real sleeper cell in the WCC is Pepperdine. Hard to say how it will shake out for the Waves in the WCC. They beat Montana (69-63) in their preseason game, losing to UCLA (67-81), Drake (55-59) and Murray State (53-69). Stacy Davis earned WCC Player of the Week honors the week of December 14, 2015 which will give the entire team lots of momentum for their WCC conference opener against Gonzaga December 22, 2015.

Santa Clara- lost to Arizona in overtime by 2 points (73-75) and the Wolfpack of Nevada (69-72). The team appears to be stronger against these two teams than their WCC counterparts with the outstanding play of Jared Brownridge and solid play of senior Marqueze Coleman.

Saint Mary’s- The Gaels played Stanford and won (78-61) and knocked it out of the gym with their win over Cal Poly (93-63). The team’s preseason schedule was otherwise unremarkable for challenging matchups.

Pacific- The UOP Tigers lost by close margins to Nevada (82-85) and EWU (63-70). Alec Kobre has returned to the lineup after missing the first six games of the season which should help the Tigers’ offensive production immensely in addition to the always solid TJ Wallace.

San Francisco- The Dons have shown some flashes of brilliance and some youthful losses in their preseason games, coming close to beating Eastern Washington (77-81) then losing badly to Montana (50-82) when matched up against Big Sky conference opponents. Devin Watson continues to impress and Uche Ofoegbu has stepped into a starting role in the lineup.

Portland- The Pilots have two terrific players in Alec Wintering and Bryce Pressley but the rest of the team remains untested in high stakes game situations. The Pilots have not matched up well against the Pac-12 losing to Colorado (63-85) and the Big Sky losing to Boise State (71-81) and Idaho State (65-66) and have an impressive preseason string of losses against unremarkable teams.

Loyola Marymount University lost to Pac-12 team Oregon State (70-79) and Boise State in a very close game (66-67) though the team is undefeated at home during the preseason. Led by the strong play of Steven Haney, Jr., and Adom Jacko who has produced three double doubles thus far in the year.

Next: Recap and Observation of the Big 4 Classic

Always a strong conference top to bottom, the competition in the WCC will test every team and the strongest overall team will win the championship. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are not a lock this year as WCC Champion with the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as is typically the case in seasons past.

Every WCC team will prepare for their games against Gonzaga to improve their chances to be “that team” –the one that takes down the Zags.