Zags in a familiar role as WCC favorite
February 27, 2018 3:05 AM
by Ramon Scott
The anticipated bombshell dropped on Friday when Yahoo! Sports published documents from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.
It had been widely-rumored for a couple of weeks that major news was about to come down that could affect the landscape of this upcoming postseason. With players and coaches from as many as 20 major schools involved, bookmakers quickly moved to take down most futures book offerings on which team would win this year’s national championship.
Whether or not the dominos will continue to fall before the tournaments begin will be known soon enough. In the meantime, teams from the West Coast Conference and their fans come to town for the WCC Tournament starting on Friday at Orleans Arena.
Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, and get a bye into the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs’ first game is on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s game between Loyola Marymount and Portland, while the Gaels face the winner of Friday’s Santa Clara-Pepperdine matchup immediately following at 9 (both games on ESPN2).
The tournament semifinals are on Monday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. (both games on ESPN2). The top-seeded teams would be expected to meet in the tournament championship game on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ESPN). Gonzaga and St. Mary’s won on each other’s home floor during the regular season. The ‘Zags have defeated the Gaels in the conference title game in each of the last two seasons.
Some of the top players to watch at this year’s tourney are St. Mary’s senior Jock Landale, a legitimate national player of the year candidate, Johnathan Wiliams and Killian Tillie, of Gonzaga, and Yoeli Childs and Elijah Bryant, of Brigham Young.
The upcoming tournament wasn’t without its own breaking news late Sunday night as University of San Diego head coach Lamont Smith was arrested in San Francisco on domestic violence charges stemming from an incident at the team hotel following the Toreros’ win over the Dons on Saturday night.
(9) Portland (+2, 144) vs. (8) Loyola Marymount (Fri., 6, ATTSN): The Lions won their final two conference games and have a couple of key figures in James Bateman and freshman Eli Scott, while the Pilots’ key man is freshman Marcus Shaver, although it was Demarcus Tyson who scored 22 points in Portland’s two-point win and push at home on Feb. 3. LMU also lost the first meeting at home as a 7-point favorite.
(10) Pepperdine (+2, 140) vs. (7) Santa Clara (Fri., 8, ATTSN): Pepperdine has just five wins, but they come in here off a season-ending win over Portland. Sophomore Kameron Edwards is a streaky scorer for the Waves. Check the status of the Broncos’ top scorer, KJ Feagin, as he limped off the court with a sprained ankle on Saturday against the Gaels in his anticipated WCC 1-2 scoring match-up with Landale. Santa Clara won and covered both regular-season meetings.
(6) San Diego (+5, 130) vs. (3) BYU (Sat. 1, ATTSN): Home teams won comfortably and covered during the regular season meetings, as the Toreros won by 13 as a 3-point choice, while the Cougars covered -10.5 in a 16-point victory back in January. San Diego’s Isaiah Piniero had 20 points in the home win against the Cougars on Feb. 17. The Cougars are just 1-4 ATS over their last five and had gone OVER in seven of their last nine coming into this one.
(5) Pacific (+2, 136) at (4) San Francisco (Sat., 3, ATTSN): The Tigers finished on a three-game losing streak, including an 84-74 home loss to the Dons, who completed the season sweep. Damon Stoudamire has certainly brought team-oriented UOP to a four-year peak point recently before the skid. The Dons won five of their last seven, including the big win over St. Mary’s at home back on Feb. 15. USF has gone UNDER in 10 of its last 14 games. Watch for Don freshman Souley Boum, from Oakland.