While a lot of the attention this week is going to the Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s matchup on Thursday, there still is plenty left to be decided in the middle of the West Coast Conference.
San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Pepperdine are all separated by three games as they head into the final three weeks before the WCC Tournament. Seeds four through seven are up for grabs and each team will have plenty of opportunity to move up the rankings.
USF and San Diego look like the hottest teams of the group but Santa Clara has the explosiveness to end up in that fourth slot. If Pepperdine catches fire offensively, they too could move up quickly.
Let’s take a quick look at each team and what they have left.
4. San Diego (6-5, 0 games back of fourth place)
Remaining games: at Santa Clara, at Portland, at Gonzaga, vs. USF, vs. Pepperdine.
Opponents WCC record: 24-29
San Diego has had plenty of success against the lower half of the league and but that isn’t to say it will be easy. Their next three games are on the road, including games at Santa Clara and Gonzaga, both of whom the Toreros have already lost to. But a win over BYU could continue to fuel their momentum. The emergence of Jito Kok has also made an incredible difference on defense.
Predicted record: 3-2, 9-7 overall
5. Santa Clara (5-5, 0.5 GB)
Remaining games: vs. San Diego, vs. Pepperdine, at Gonzaga, at Portland, vs. LMU, at Saint Mary’s
Opponents WCC record: 32-33
The Broncos have the toughest remaining schedule and it is highlighted by games at Gonzaga and at Saint Mary’s. Santa Clara is also 3-3 against the remaining teams on its schedule. Remember, LMU’s only league win is against the Broncos. Their defense has to get back on track for them to make a move on fourth place.
Predicted record: 3-3, 8-8 overall
6. San Francisco (4-7, 2 GB)
Remaining games: vs. Portland, vs. Gonzaga, at LMU, vs. Pepperdine, at San Diego
Opponents WCC record: 22-32
USF has the easiest remaining schedule and the Dons are playing with a confidence that will be scary for any opponent. If you look at the remaining games and you look at the USF record, there is a legitimate chance they could finish at 8-8. Who would have thought that after that 0-5 start? Even the “loss” to circle would likely be Gonzaga but remember, the Zags have not won at War Memorial since 2009.
Predicted record: 4-1, 8-8 overall
7. Pepperdine (3-8, 3 GB)
Remaining schedule: vs. LMU, at Santa Clara, at USF, vs. Saint Mary’s, at San Diego
Opponents WCC record: 26-28
Pepperdine also has a difficult road to pave. Their only conference wins have come against LMU and Portland. They see LMU one more time and have to hit the road for three of their final five games. It continues to come down to if the Waves can score enough points. Nikolas Skouen has also been solid of late and scored in double figures in four straight games.
Predicted record: 1-4, 4-12 overall