A Deeper Look: WCC Hoops Comes to Big Monday
by Strike Point Sports - 01/08/2007
This West Coast Conference's spotlight continues this year on Big Monday starting tonight. Each week we'll see the ESPN network nationally televise a WCC game. This week it's the Gonzaga Bulldogs hosting Pepperdine. And for those with ESPNU, Loyola Marymount visits Portland.
WCC ESPN Showcase
Pepperdine - 4-13 (11-5 ATS) at Gonzaga - 10-6 (6-9 ATS)
This year, it's still your typical Gonzaga Bulldogs team, at least talent-wise. Adam Morrison is gone but there is no lack of skill on this squad. However, with Morrison's leadership out the door, the biggest question has been if there is anyone that can lead. And that lacking necessity has been seen over the last couple weeks when the Zags lost five in a stretch of seven games during their brutal non-conference schedule. Losses to Washington State, Georgia, Duke, Nevada and a blowout to Virginia suggest they can play with anyone but have had difficulties winning these big match-ups consistently.
Pepperdine has had a rough start to the season. Despite just four wins, they have proved one of the better underachievers against the number. They are 9-1 ATS in their last ten road games, but against Gonzaga they are just 2-12 against the number. The favorite is also 9-1 ATS in the last ten meetings and the Waves hadn't been favored in any of those games.
Gonzaga has won the last ten meetings with Pepperdine and eight of those victories have come by at least ten points. The Bulldogs opened up WCC play this past weekend with an easy 35-point win over Loyola Marymount. However, with their struggles before that, can they cover this large a number again on the big stage? Gonzaga has been listed by linesmakers as 19-point favorites but they have covered just eight of their last 24 home games. Pepperdine is 8-2 ATS vs. a number of at least seven points. The total is posted at 172.
Prediction: Gonzaga 79, Pepperdine 68
WCC Secondary Showcase
Loyola Marymount - 8-9 (2-7-3 ATS) at Portland - 5-12 (4-11 ATS)
11 p.m. EST
Two disappointing WCC schools clash, hoping to turn around their fortunes with the New Year. The Lions of Loyola Marymount had opened the season 5-2 but losses in seven of their last ten games have seen them dip under .500. Portland has been even worse at 5-12, but fortunately they return home where they have won all of their games.
The Pilots were one of the worst teams in college hoops during the first several months of the season, however Portland has won three of their last four games, covering three of three last four as well.
Both teams have gone back and forth in this series, Portland having won three of the last four meetings but just 6-4 in their last 10.
Loyola Marymount must make up for the huge loss of Brandon Worthy who was lost for the season with a knee injury in late December. Worthy was the team's leading scoring and assist man so far, averaging 18.5 and four a night. Without him, other players must step up. Portland is one team offensively that won't pull away. The Pilots have averaged just 59 points a game this year, close to dead last in the nation. In their last two victories they did manage over 70 in each, hopefully suggesting a turnaround is forthcoming.
Portland is currently a two-point favorite at home, while the total is posted at 127.5. This game can be seen on ESPNU tonight at 11 p.m. EST.
Prediction: Portland 68, Loyola Marymount 63