Around the West Coast Conference

SMC playing some very heinous basketball. Down 32-18 to Xavier with 18 minutes left in the second half after getting drubbed by SDSU. Not sure what’s wrong with them at all, losing Logan Johnson as leader is taking such a bigger toll than I think they expected.


Yeah, it appears that their early season ranking was based on little more than reputation.

In both college football and basketball, preseason rankings are conversation starters, but not much else.


We will see tonight how good the Zags really are. They have only played a single D1 opponent so far (Yale) which is probably unique across all of the rest of D1. Presumably, they wanted to slow roll the OOC so as to maximize preparation for an all-time Maui Invitational field. Tonight they tilt against, possibly, the best team in the country in Purdue. Gonzaga isn’t projected to win, but how good they look in a loss should say something about whether this iteration is right in step with the past decade of totally dominant Zag teams or a step behind (as many project).

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While this isn’t around the conference, Stanford plays Arkansas in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Should they win, they’d play Memphis in the semis.

It’s hard to cheer for Stanford, but we could use the quad 1 win come March, especially knowing the WCC won’t provide many opportunities for those this season.

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I was at the Battle 4 Atlantis last year watching our boys. It makes Firestone Fieldhouse look cavernous. Makes a much better venue for a wedding reception than a basketball tournament (or even a high school hoops game, for that matter).

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I’m watching this game…Stanford is perplexing

They are shooting nearly 50% FG, while Arkansas is shooting 32% or so. But Stanford has far more turnovers and Arkansas is outrebounding the Cardinal.

Game is currently 48-47, Stanford with 1-pt lead with 8 minutes or so to go.

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Stanford loses by 3 in 2OT. They missed ELEVEN free throws (13-24). I gotta say, Stanford is soft. They have a Euro-finesse game, but they can’t bang.

Highlighting some WCC games of interest through this weekend:


  • Wyoming @ Portland, 6pm, ESPN+
  • Boise St. vs. St. Mary’s in Idaho Falls, 7:30, FS1


  • USC vs. Gonzaga in Vegas, 7pm, ESPN
  • LMU vs. Nevada in Vegas, 7pm


  • USF @ Ariz State, noon, Pac12Network
  • Pepp @ Colorado, 2pm, Pac12Network
  • USD @ Stanford, 4pm, Pac12Network
    Intentional or otherwise, appears it’s WCC vs. Pac12 Day.

SMC loses…again. The Gaels are looking like maybe the fourth best team in the WCC right now.

At least Portland beat Wyoming. The Pilots’ loss to Portland State earlier this week must sting, they were leading almost the entire game, and lost on a last second mad-dash layup.

Is the WCC going through a down year (excepting SCU of course) this season? Or is this just a decades-past natural rotation that was disrupted by Gonzaga dominance and Bennett’s magnificence at SMC?

SMC is 3-5 but worth noting their strength of non-con schedule is top 20. 4 of their 5 loss are to Top 70 teams on Torvik: SanDiego St. (#22), Xavier (#58), Utah (#34), Boise St. (#69). Their schedule gets a little easier the rest of the way and they could head in to WCC play at about 9-6.
But never count Bennett out, he’ll figure it out. I’m optimistic the Broncos can overtake SMC in the WCC but no guarantees and will be an uphill battle to knock them off twice in league play.

I never understood the hype for SMC coming in to the season including many predicting they’d top GU in the WCC. But why? They lost two key veteran starters in Kyle Bowen and Logan Johnson. Bowen was their glue guy who played great D, rebounded and scored just enough. Johnson was the only power conference level athlete in their playing rotation and the best perimeter defender in the league, played his butt off, set the tone for their team. Offensively, Johnson was an inconsistent perimeter shooter but was still a good scorer, great slasher and handle the ball. SMC didn’t do much to backfill for those two guys, no high level transfers and one somewhat highly regarded frosh in guard Jordan Ross but he hasn’t contributed much. So again…add all that up and explain why expecting them to be as good or better than last season makes sense. You’d have to see a bunch of younger returning guys make significant steps forward (Mahaney, Marciulionis, and Jefferson) but that really hasn’t happened…at least not yet.

exactly this - SMC lost key guys, yet somehow they were supposed to be better than last year?

While I think it’s clear now that SMC was over-hyped (by how much remains to be seen), they had their biggest stars returning. Mahaney and Ducas were seen as the most important returning players, while Marciulionis was presumed to finally take off and reach potential. The departures of Johnson and Bowen were discounted as a result. Outside observers saw SMC’s relative stability (compared to every other WCC team, including Gonzaga) and bet big on continuity and Bennett’s genius. Not a bad bet given the information at the time.

They just underestimated how much the “core” had actually been lost.

Rough several days for the WCC.
Portland did beat Wyoming on Friday and GU beat USC but aside from that it was a complete loss. Collectively the league was 1-4 vs. the Pac-12.
UOP lost to Northern Arizona by 20 on Saturday, LMU lost to Nevada by 14.

Sunday the league went 0-4, all by double digit margins and three by 22+ points . USF was moderately competitive in an 11pt loss to ASU.

There is still a month of non-con games left but as of now the league as a whole appears to have trended down this season. All WCC teams NET, KenPom, etc. will suffer a bit accordingly.


A nearly full slate of WCC games today, everyone is in action except for USF.
The games of most interest:

  • St. Mary’s @ #13 Colorado St., 3:30pm, CBSSportsNet
  • UOP @ Fresno St., 4pm
  • LMU vs. UNLV, 7pm, in same event as the Broncos.
  • USD vs. ASU, 7:30, CBSSportsNet
  • GU @ Washington, 8pm, ESPN2

Gonzaga a short favorite @ Washington.

Very suspicious line.

I imagine most saw that GU lost to UW. But some other good wins and signs of life in the WCC:

  • SMC beat a ranked Colo St. team on the road, 64-61. They were led by guys who usually aren’t their top contributors: Joshua Jefferson had 16pts and 13 rebounds; Marciulionis had 18pts and 3 assists on 8/11 shooting.
  • LMU beat UNLV. Gonzaga transfer Dom Harris had 28pts, 5rebs in 29minutes off the bench. UNLV isn’t great but still a decent win against a mid-major team and LMU has struggled a little bit. The win moves them to 6-4.
  • And the biggest surprise…USD beat Arizona St. I still expect USD to finish in the bottom half of the league. They are extremely young…brought in something like 6 or 7 freshman this season and have had a couple in their starting lineup and 4 or 5 in their playing rotation. I expect they will have their ups and downs and probably a losing record in league play but they will surprise a team or two.
  • And not great opponents but Portland beat North Dakota and Pepperdine beat UC San Diego.
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I’m glad that SMC got a good win and halted their slide.

I’m most excited for the USD win. Lavin is trying to go old school in recruiting and developing a team from the ground up. NIL and the portal makes that a helluva gamble. He could give his 9 frosh a lot of excellent experience only to have them take their talents elsewhere. And Lavin doesn’t have a reputation as some coaching savant. But I’m hoping for his success because college basketball is much better when program loyalty and the ability to watch players grow remain. If USD is able to show some green shoots and then keep the gang together, it’ll make me happy to root for their success.

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Some interesting WCC games today:

  • Fresno St. @ USF, 5pm, ESPN+
  • #16 Colorado St. @ LMU, 7pm, ESPN+
  • Portland vs. UMass, 10pm, ESPN2, in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic.