The Zappo’s.com West Coast Conference Tournament kicks off February 29th at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. #21 Saint Mary’s (23-3, 12-1 in the WCC) comes in as the favorite at the chip leader at this point in the season with a hand of Matthew Dellavedova and senior Rob Jones setting the tone.
BYU (21-6, 9-3 in the WCC) holds a pair of kings with the duo of guard Matt Carlino and forwards Noah Hartsock, who are as mentally tough as any two players in the conference.
Loyola Marymount (16-10, 9-4 in the WCC) are wild cards as well.
That said, the ace in the hole is Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few.
Here are my Five I am 100% certain Reasons Gonzaga Will Win the Automatic Big Dance Bid
1). Experience: The Bulldogs have enough
The bench has sophomore David Stockton and senior Marquise Carter. The Bulldogs may be young at guard with freshmen Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, Jr. but there is still plenty of leadership on this squad.
The questions could come as the team lacks an upper classman that can score late on the perimeter, but with Sacre and Harris down low, the Zags frontcourt is more than capable of carrying more of a scoring load.
2). Spike may not be the top dog entering the WCC Tournament
Amazingly enough, Gonzaga’s streak of 11 consecutive regular season titles is in danger going into Thursday’s matchups as Saint Mary’s holds a one game lead over the Zags (20-4, 10-2 in the WCC) with four to go.
That said, the Gaels got pounded last week by the Zags 73-59 , which avenged a loss down at Moraga and it wasn’t even that close.
If the streak is broken, don’t think that a rubber match beating won’t be on the minds of the Spokane faithful.
3). Coach Mark Few
The WCChas solid coaches: Dave Rose at BYU; Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s; Rex Walters at San Francisco.
All of them can’t match the success that Few has had in Spokane. The result, Coach Few is a 7-time WCC Coach of the Year since 2001 and has been the head coach in more NCAA tournament games than the rest of his counterparts put together.
With the game on the line, no other coach is better suited to hold a dry erase board more than him.
The Bulldogs have plenty of them. Carter has the ability to shut down anybody in the WCC on the offensive end. Sophomore guard Stockton is capable of providing a spark from the three point line. Pangos has shown that he can score in big games, evidence by his 27 point performance against Saint Mary’s.
5). Spike’s Mystique
Winning the WCC Tournament is Like Going into McCarthey Athletic Center and taking one of Spike’s bones. Since 1999, Gonzaga has won the WCC tournament 10 times in that span with San Diego 2003 & 2008 and Saint Mary’s in 2010 representing the three hiccups.
The Zags will likely be a one or two seed, so any team planning on winning at the Orleans will have to go through Gonzaga.
While Pangos may not yet conjure up mirages of Matt Santangelo, Blake Stepp, Dan Dickau, or Derek Raivio, make no mistake, a match-up with the Zags won’t be an oasis for anybody.
What do you think Zags fan?
Have you got your own reasons the Bulldogs take the WCC tourney? Hit me back below. I’d love to hear from you.