No. 8 Portland (4-12) vs. No. 9 Loyola Marymount (1-15)
Season series: Portland won 2-0
Game time: 6 p.m.
Both teams have struggled to put points on the board for majority of conference play. For Portland, this is not new. They were in this position a year ago and played in the first round game against Santa Clara. The Pilots moved on and faced San Francisco. And, like, last year the winner of this game will play San Francisco.
The winner gets to stay in Las Vegas. The winner goes home. Let’s get this tournament started:
Probable starters: Anthony Ireland, Chase Flint, Ayodeji Egbeyemi, Alex Osborne, Ashley Hamilton
This is LMU’s second last place finish in the last three seasons. The Lions have lost 14 straight games but 10 of those have been by single digits. They have lost at the buzzer to both San Francisco and San Diego. Are they really as bad as their record indicates or could they be the story of the tournament? All-WCC First Teamer Anthony Ireland remains the one constant for LMU but if they could get any help, they could see a win against Portland.
Alex Osbrone has been one of the guys stepping up recently. The junior is averaging 10.8 points over his last five games despite having a season average of just over five per game.
The two games against Portland were decided by a combined 13 points, both ending in Lion losses. The last matchup took Portland’s Ryan Nicholas and Tanner Riley combining for nine three-pointers.
Probable starters: Kevin Bailey, Derrick Rodgers, Bryce Pressley, Ryan Nicholas, Thomas van der Mars
The Gonzaga game aside, the Pilots have gotten more of a boost from the guards recently. Kevin Bailey had 18 points in each of the wins over San Francisco and San Diego in the last couple of weeks and he will need a similar performance against LMU.
Thomas van der Mars has also been more actively on the offensive side. The sophomore center had scored in double figures in seven consecutive games going into its game against Gonzaga last Saturday. The Pilots are 4-5 when van der Mars scores in double figures in conference play.
Then there is Nicholas.
He is averaging 19 points and 8.5 rebounds against the Lions this season, while shooting 72 percent from the field.
Predicted winner: Portland