We are now past the halfway point of the WCC season, and the top of the WCC is just as most predicted. St Mary’s and Gonzaga will battle it out for the league crown, with BYU as a respectable third place team that can beat or lose to anybody on any given night. San Diego and Pacific have had respectable seasons, and are the two biggest surprises in the conference thus far.
Here is how each team fared, starting from the top down in conference standings:
St. Mary’s (21-2, 10-0)
Thursday: W vs BYU, 75-62
Saturday: W at Portland, 72-55
KenPom Ranking: 16
St Mary’s continues to roll through the WCC, as they now have won 16 games in a row. With a senior-laden lineup and one of the best bigs in the country in Jock Landale, the Gaels will have a chance to finish conference play undefeated.
They have a pair of tricky games this week, with a home game versus San Francisco and a road game at San Diego. The Torreros nearly took down St Mary’s in Moraga, so keep an eye on that game Saturday night.
Gonzaga (19-4, 9-1)
Thursday: W at Portland, 95-79
Saturday: W vs San Francisco, 82-73
KenPom Ranking: 7
Gonzaga won both games this week, although closer than expected. San Francisco gave Gonzaga a game at the Kennel, with the Zags leading by just a single possession with under 3 minutes to play.
Gonzaga will play San Diego on Thursday in Spokane before welcoming BYU to the Kennel on Saturday night. If Gonzaga is too busy looking ahead to BYU, San Diego is capable of pulling off the huge upset.
BYU (18-5, 7-3)
Thursday: L at St. Mary’s, 62-75
Saturday: W vs Pacific, 80-65
KenPom Ranking: 52
BYU held serve, but really need a win at St Mary’s to enter the at-large discussion. BYU needs to take care of business at LMU Thursday before going for a fourth straight win in the Kennel on Saturday. Win that one, and BYU at least enters the at-large discussion. Gonzaga is still Gonzaga, but they have looked more vulnerable this season than they have in years past.
San Diego (15-7, 6-4)
Thursday: W vs Santa Clara, 66-58
Saturday: W at LMU, 89-82
KenPom Ranking: 120
After suffering a pair of losses the week prior, San Diego got back on track with a sweep this week. They have the gauntlet this week, as they take on Gonzaga at the Kennel on Thursday before having a home date with St Mary’s Saturday.
San Diego is the best defensive team in the conference, which has been the biggest reason for their turnaround. They had an 8-point second half lead at St Mary’s earlier this month before falling late, so you can bet they’ll be hungry to pull off the upset this time around on their home court.
Pacific (10-13, 5-5)
Thursday: L at San Francisco, 67-69
Saturday: L at BYU, 65-80
KenPom Ranking: 166
Pacific came back to earth a bit this week, as they suffered a pair of close losses on the road. They’ll stay on the road for both contests this week, as they head to Santa Clara and Pepperdine. Teams won’t be overlooking Pacific anymore, so it will be interesting how they do with some expectations now placed on them.
Santa Clara (8-14, 5-5)
Thursday: L at San Diego, 58-65
Saturday: W at Pepperdine, 73-59
KenPom Ranking: 260
Santa Clara continues to teeter on the edge of decent and bottom feeder, and we’ll get a better idea of where they stand this week after a pair of home games versus Pacific and San Francisco.
San Francisco (12-11, 4-6)
Thursday: W vs Pacific, 69-67
Saturday: L at Gonzaga, 73-82
KenPom Ranking: 152
San Francisco finally looked like the team that was supposed to challenge BYU for the third spot in the WCC before conference play started. After a rocky start to WCC play, San Francisco gutted out a win versus Pacific before giving Gonzaga all they could handle at the Kennel.
They have a pair of road contests this week at St Mary’s and Santa Clara.
Portland (8-15, 2-8)
Thursday: L vs Gonzaga, 79-95
Saturday: L at St Mary’s, 55-72
KenPom Ranking: 257
Portland will face off versus the two bottom dwellers in the WCC this week on its home floor. If they can manage to sweep Pepperdine and LMU, they’ll start to creep their way up to challenging Santa Clara and San Francisco.
Pepperdine (4-1,8 1-9)
Thursday: W vs LMU, 71-70
Saturday: L vs Pepperdine, 59-73
KenPom Ranking: 308
After going through an 11-game losing streak, Pepperdine picked up its first win of the conference season by beating LMU. After having only one win in the month of December, Pepperdine will end January with a single win as well.
They face off versus Portland and Pacific this week.
Loyola Marymount (6-15, 1-9)
Thursday: L at Pepperdine, 70-71
Saturday: L vs San Diego, 82-89
KenPom Ranking: 236
Poor LMU gave Pepperdine its first WCC win of the year. The Lions get BYU at home on Thursday, a place where BYU has struggled since joining the WCC. BYU has had to overcome double-digit deficits the past two years in order to get wins on LMU’s home court.