There are only three more Saturdays of league play and then Las Vegas.
The top of the league has now cleared up and it has become perfectly clear who the best is. As if there was any doubt.
The middle of the league, though, is as cloudy as ever. San Francisco’s loss to Portland has moved them into a tie for sixth in the WCC. Santa Clara’s win over San Diego now puts them into fourth place and now hold the tiebreaker with the Toreros. Portland has also gotten themselves into the conversation and sit only a game behind both USF and Pepperdine.
USF, Pepperdine, and Portland are playing to stay out of the eight seed so they do not have to play LMU in a first round matchup.
It is why these final few games are crucial for everybody.
No. 3 Gonzaga (24-2, 11-0) at San Francisco (11-14, 4-8), CSNBA, ROOT Sports, TWC SN, 1:30 p.m.
Gonzaga all but clinched the WCC title with a win at Saint Mary’s on Thursday but cannot rest quite yet. The Bulldogs have not won at War Memorial Gym since 2009 and the Dons, despite their loss on Thursday, have been playing well recently. Gonzaga got combined 38 points from Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos and it seems the guard tandem is starting to get an offensive flow going. USF allowed Portland to shoot 50 percent from the field and have four players in double figures.
Predicted winner: Gonzaga
Saint Mary’s (21-5, 10-2) at Loyola Marymount (8-17, 1-11), TWC SN, CSNCA, ROOT Sports, 4 p.m.
The Gaels let a golden opportunity slip away with their loss to Gonzaga on Thursday but has to be focused for LMU. The Lions are coming off another tough loss at the hands of Pepperdine and once again Anthony Ireland received no help. He scored 26 points and was the only Lion to be in double figure scoring. Saint Mary’s had a similar problem with only Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen Holt reaching double figures against Gonzaga.
Predicted winner: Saint Mary’s
Portland (10-17, 3-9) at BYU (18-8, 8-4), BYUtv, 6 p.m.
Portland’s offense has come alive recently and has shot better than 50 percent in two of their last three games. That has been due in large part to the guards. Tanner Riley has scored in double figures in two of his last three games, the same two games in which the Pilots had their good shooting nights. BYU is coming off two straight losses and has been off since last Saturday. The Cougars are likely ready for Portland.
Predicted winner: Portland
Pepperdine (12-13, 4-8) at Santa Clara (18-8, 6-5), WCC Digital, 7 p.m.
Santa Clara is 6-1 against the five teams below them in the standings and 0-4 against the teams above them. Pretty clear where the Broncos stand. Santa Clara gutted out a win against San Diego on Thursday and held the Toreros to 33 percent shooting. That has been the difference for Santa Clara: its defense. They continue to allow teams to shoot 44 percent from the field in WCC play. Pepperdine has drawn even with USF for sixth in the WCC and is still in striking distance of San Diego.
Predicted winner: Santa Clara