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2015 West Coast Conference Tournament: Team-by-team primer

A team-by-team look at the tournament field.

Gonzaga has won both the regular-season and conference tournament crowns in 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Gonzaga has won both the regular-season and conference tournament crowns in 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The field is set, the court is being laid in The Orleans Arena, and conference tournament time is upon us. Here is a team-by-team rundown of the tournament field with notes, stats, and more.

lmu wcc tourney banner

Simply put, this season has been a huge struggle for the Lions in former NBA head coach Mike Dunlap's first season in Los Angeles. The Lions are the ignominious 10-seed in a 10-team league for the second straight year and were the 9-seed in a 9-team league the year previous. LMU has only two wins of any note: Beating DePaul before DePaul started Big East play by beating Marquette, Xavier, and Creighton in succession; and a win over fifth-place San Diego. Evan Payne is a nice player, but the Lions just don't have enough to make any noise in this tournament and have lost six games in a row.

First Game
vs. (7) Santa Clara - 3/6 at 9:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 0-2 (Home: L 70-63, Road: L 65-62)

Stat Leaders
Points: Evan Payne - 17.6 PPG
Rebounds: Godwin Okonji - 5.6 RPG
Assists: Chase Flint - 3.7 APG
FG%: Marin Mornar - 51.9%
3PT%: Matt Hayes - 40.5%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 10-seed. 1-1 (Win [7] Portland, Loss [2] BYU)
2013: 9-seed. 3-1 (Win [8] Portland, Win [5] San Francisco, Win [4] Santa Clara, Loss [1] Gonzaga
2012: 4-seed. 0-1 (Loss [5] San Francisco)

Related: WCC tournament bracket, TV schedule

pacific wcc tourney banner

Pacific stepped backward in its second season since returning to the West Coast Conference. Last year, the 6-12 Tigers won a game against second-place BYU. This season, with two less conference wins, the best win the Tigers mustered was against fifth-place San Diego. Pacific can still improve upon last season's tournament performance, however, by claiming its first WCC tournament win.

First Game
vs. (8) San Francisco - 3/6 at 7:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 0-2 (Home: L 77-71, Road: L 65-55)

Stat Leaders
Points: T.J. Wallace - 13.0 PPG
Rebounds: Wallace - 5.6 RPG
Assists: Dulani Robinson - 2.6 APG
FG%: Eric Thompson - 53.7%
3PT%: Alec Kobre - 37.5%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 8-seed. 0-1 (Loss [9] Santa Clara)
2013: Big West
2012: Big West

usf wcc tourney banner

The Dons posted their worst finish in the WCC since BYU joined. At one point, San Francisco was 3-10 in conference play, including getting blasted by 31 at home against BYU, but finished the WCC campaign 4-1, including a win over Pacific, to rise to the 8th spot. USF has an athletic front court in Kruize Pinkins and Mark Tollefson and in a vacuum I'd say the Dons could make noise in a conference tournament, but advancing out of the first round spells a meeting with Gonzaga.

First Game
vs. (9) Pacific - 3/6 at 7:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 2-0 (Home: W 65-55, Road: W 77-71)

Stat Leaders
Points: Kruize Pinkins - 14.2 PPG
Rebounds: Pinkins, Mark Tollefson, Matt Glover - 5.4 RPG
Assists: Glover - 3.2 APG
FG%: Matt Christiansen - 55.4%
3PT%: Pinkins - 41.9%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 3-seed. 1-1 (Win [6] San Diego, Loss [2] BYU)
2013: 5-seed. 0-1 (Loss [9] Loyola Marymount)
2012: 5-seed. 2-1 (Win [8] Portland, Win [4] Loyola Marymount, Loss [1] Saint Mary's)

santa clara wcc tourney banner

At one point in the WCC season, Santa Clara was 6-4 and looked to reprise its 2012-13 season when it claimed the 4-seed. A six-game losing streak doomed those hopes, but in the conference finale it posted a one-point upset over Saint Mary's. This put the Broncos on the other side of the bracket from Gonzaga, and also opened the door for BYU's second-place finish. SCU's games against LMU were surprisingly close, however, and being on BYU's side of the bracket is no consolation: the Broncos lost 81-46 and 78-57 to the Cougars this season.

First Game
vs. (10) Loyola Marymount - 3/6 at 9:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 2-0 (Home: W 65-62, Road: W 70-63)

Stat Leaders
Points: Brandon Clark - 15.5 PPG, Jared Brownridge 15.4 PPG
Rebounds: Nate Kratch - 4.6 RPG
Assists: Clark- 3.8 APG
FG%: Jarvis Pugh - 55.7%
3PT%: Brownridge - 41.8%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 9-seed. 1-1 (Win [8] Pacific, Loss [1] Gonzaga)
2013: 4-seed. 0-1 (Loss [9] Loyola Marymount)
2012: 9-seed. 0-1 (Loss [8] Portland)

portland wcc tourney banner

If there is one dark-horse team to make noise in this tournament, I'd pick the Portland Pilots. This is Portland's best finish since BYU entered the league. That's because the Pilots shoot very well as a team from the three-point line and free-throw stripe. If you have a player who can go bananas in a given game, that helps a hot tourney run as well. The Pilots have two such players in Kevin Bailey and Alec Wintering, both of whom have posted a 30-point game this season. The problem: mental toughness. Portland has dropped four in a row and has not fared well in recent conference tournaments. It will take a different approach to get over the hump.

First Game
vs. (3)  Saint Mary's - 3/7 at 1:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 0-2 (Home: L 74-64, Road: L 68-51)

Stat Leaders
Points: Kevin Bailey - 14.4 PPG
Rebounds: Thomas van der Mars - 8.1 RPG
Assists: Alec Wintering - 5.9 APG
FG%: Gabe Taylor - 52.9%
3PT%: Wintering - 50.8%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 7-seed. 0-1 (Loss [10] Loyola Marymount)
2013: 8-seed. 0-1 (Loss [9] Loyola Marymount)
2012: 8-seed. 1-1 (Win [9] Santa Clara, Loss [5] San Francisco)

san diego wcc tourney banner

For the first time in four seasons, San Diego won't be the 6-seed. The Toreros have been the definition of a mediocre team, battling well with Boise State and San Diego State, beating BYU, but losing to Pacific and Loyola Marymount. Johnny Dee can be the tournament spark plug (something we say every season for USD), but I'm not sure the Toreros offer much else scoring wise. A jump up one rung to the 5-seed would mean a first-round win gets you Gonzaga -- the Toreros average only 43.5 points per game against the Zags.

First Game
vs. (4)  Pepperdine - 3/7 at 3:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 1-1 (Home: L 59-47, Road: W 72-50)

Stat Leaders
Points: Johnny Dee - 17.2 PPG
Rebounds: Thomas Jacobs - 5.0 RPG
Assists: Chris Anderson - 6.6 APG
FG%: Simi Fajemisin - 60.0%
3PT%: Chris Sarbaugh - 41.7%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 6-seed. 0-1 (Loss [3] San Francisco)
2013: 6-seed. 2-1 (Win [7] Pepperdine, Win [3] BYU, Loss [2] Saint Mary's)
2012: 6-seed. 1-1 (Win [7] Pepperdine, Loss [3] BYU)

pepperdine wcc tourney banner

For a while, it looked like Pepperdine was the latest challenge to the top tier of the conference. The Waves started WCC play 4-2, which included a win at BYU and a two-point loss to Gonzaga. Pepperdine also beat Saint Mary's on the road and then beat BYU again as the back half of the conference schedule began. But the Waves then dropped three straight and were swept by San Francisco, knocking them out of the running for second place. Stacy Davis can do work in the post and can cause matchup problems. But Marty Wilson's crew has been a one-and-done in the conference tournament since he took the job. Can Wilson grab his first WCC tournament win?

First Game
vs. (5)  San Diego - 3/7 at 3:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 1-1 (Home: L 72-50, Road: W 59-47)

Stat Leaders
Points: Stacy Davis - 15.8 PPG
Rebounds: Davis - 7.9 RPG
Assists: Amadi Udenyi - 4.4 APG
FG%: Jett Raines - 50.0%
3PT%: Udenyi - 39.3%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 5-seed. 0-1 (Loss [4] Saint Mary's)
2013: 7-seed. 0-1 (Loss [6] San Diego)
2012: 7-seed. 0-1 (Loss [6] San Diego)

saint marys wcc tourney banner

While Pepperdine put scares into teams, the conference's best really starts here at the 3-seed. For the first time since BYU joined the conference, Saint Mary's is on track to face BYU in the conference tournament and must win twice before facing Gonzaga. When Brad Waldow is on, the Gaels offense works and they can play well as evidenced by a road win at Creighton. But SMC didn't really compete with Gonzaga this season, lost to Northern Arizona at home, and with a decent amount on the line lost to Santa Clara in the regular season finale. But the Gaels are well coached and will be a tough matchup for anyone they face.

First Game
vs. (6)  Portland - 3/7 at 1:00 pm MT, BYUtv
Head-to-head: 2-0 (Home: W 68-51, Road: W 74-64)

Stat Leaders
Points: Brad Waldow - 19.1 PPG
Rebounds: Waldow - 9.0 RPG
Assists: Emmett Naar - 4.1 APG
FG%: Waldow - 56.3%
3PT%: Naar - 46.7%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 4-seed. 1-1 (Win [5] Pepperdine, Loss [1] Gonzaga)
2013: 2-seed. 1-1 (Win [6] San Diego, Loss [1] Gonzaga)
2012: 1-seed. 2-0 (Win [5] San Francisco, Win [2] Gonzaga)

byu wcc tourney banner

For a time, it seemed BYU would be lucky to finish fourth in the WCC after getting swept by Pepperdine. But the Cougars posted an 8-1 record in the back half of conference play (for the second season in a row), capped with a huge road win at Gonzaga that ended a 4+ year home conference winning streak for the Bulldogs. Led by all-time school scoring leader Tyler Haws, BYU is the second-best scoring team in the country. Kyle Collinsworth, NCAA record-holder for most triple-doubles in the season, does everything for the Cougars, while Skyler Halford and Chase Fischer are big-time deep threats. The difference in BYU's two halves has been rebounding and defense in the post. The Cougars haven't looked better in two full seasons. BYU is 4-0 against the two teams it could face first, winning those four games by an average of 22 points.

First Game
vs. 7/10 Santa Clara/Loyola Marymount winner - 3/7 at 9:00 pm MT, ESPN2
Head-to-head: 2-0 against both

Stat Leaders
Points: Tyler Haws - 21.9 PPG (#4 nationally)
Rebounds: Kyle Collinsworth - 8.6 RPG
Assists: Collinsworth - 5.8 APG
FG%: Corbin Kaufusi - 54.5%
3PT%: Skyler Halford - 47.3%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 2-seed. 2-1 (Win [10] LMU, Win [3] San Francisco, Loss [1] Gonzaga)
2013: 3-seed. 0-1 (Loss [6] San Diego)
2012: 3-seed. 1-1 (Win [6] San Diego, Loss [2] Gonzaga)

gonzaga wcc tourney banner

Clearly, Gonzaga is the class of the WCC. Its only two losses this season are to Arizona, in a matchup of teams on track for 1-seeds, and to BYU. And the BYU loss wasn't so much an indicator of Gonzaga slipping inasmuch as BYU is streaking and may have figured out how to match up with the Zags. This feels like Mark Few's most balanced, powerful team yet. Kevin Pangos, newly-minted WCC player of the year, is a perfect general for the team. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky transfer, can fill up the hoop. Gary Bell has turned into a great glue guy. Przemek Karnowski and Domanatas Sabonis make a formidable front court. It's a fantastic team, one that leads the nation in team field goal percentage at 52.4% -- a crazy good team percentage. The Bulldogs get good looks, defend, and rebound. Despite last week's upset, this is still their tournament to lose.

First Game
vs. 8/9 San Francisco/Pacific winner - 3/7 at 7:00 pm MT, ESPN
Head-to-head: 2-0 against both

Stat Leaders
Points: Kyle Wiltjer - 16.5 PPG
Rebounds: Domanatas Sabonis - 7.0 RPG
Assists: Kevin Pangos - 5.0 APG
FG%: Sabonis - 68.4%
3PT%: Wiltjer - 44.9%

WCC Tourney History since 2012
2014: 1-seed. 3-0 (Win [9] Santa Clara, Win [4] Saint Mary's, Win [2] BYU)
2013: 1-seed. 2-0 (Win [9] LMU, Win [2] Saint Mary's)
2012: 2-seed. 1-1 (Win [3] BYU, Loss [1] Saint Mary's)