It’s time to take a look at the first slate of conference games. Seven of the nine teams come into West Coast Conference play on a winning note and all have defended the home court well.
There are some intriguing matchups and it starts with the league opener at the Leavey Center. Here’s a look:
Santa Clara is coming off an impressive performance at Duke, albeit in a losing effort. San Francisco has had its ups and downs and since starting 5-1 have gone 2-5, with the two wins coming over Dominican and East Tennessee State. But all bets are off for this longstanding Bay Area rivalry. It will be up to Marc Trasolini to keep Cole Dickerson off the boards, if at all possible. For USF, they need to make it difficult for Santa Clara to get open looks from the perimeter. The Broncos love the three and will take them.
Predicted winner: Santa Clara
Gonzaga (13-1) at Pepperdine (8-5), TWC SN, ROOT Sports, 6 p.m.
As good as the Pepperdine story is so far this season, let’s be serious here. The Waves have no chance to beat Gonzaga. That isn’t to say Pepperdine cannot show in stretches how they have improved. They rebound well and play defense well. Watching Stacy Davis and Moriba DeFreitas will be interesting in this one. The problems are their depth and lack of consistent offense. Both are Gonzaga’s strengths. This should be Gonzaga running away in the second half.
Predicted winner: Gonzaga
Loyola Marymount (7-6) at Brigham Young (10-4), BYUtv, 6 p.m.
BYU is coming off their biggest win of the season and now get the team that beat them in Provo a year ago. Don’t think that the Cougars have forgotten that. BYU has two players averaging better than 20 points per game (Tyler Haws, Brandon Davies) but will have to contend with Anthony Ireland. The LMU guard is leading the WCC in scoring at just over 21 per game and has been one of their only consistent methods of scoring.
Predicted winner: BYU
Portland (7-8) at San Diego (7-8), FOX Sports San Diego, 8 p.m.
San Diego and Portland have had their ups and downs. For San Diego, they want to adjust to life without Chris Manresa and now readjust to having him back. Portland had to weather a brutal out of conference schedule but may have come out of it for the better. This game comes down to who you like more: the Portland frontcourt or the San Diego backcourt. On a neutral court, I may go with Ryan Nicholas and company but at the Slim Gym, I’m going with Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson.
Predicted winner: San Diego
Follow Zack Farmer on Twitter: @Zack_Farmer