2018 West Coast Conference Basketball Tournament Odds and Expert Predictions
The only thing interesting about the West Coast Conference Tournament is the prospect of a rubber match between its two best teams, Gonzaga and St. Mary's. But then again, since Gonzaga is 4-0 against the Gaels in their last four league tournament meetings, can we even say that matchup would be all that interesting?
The West Coast Conference Tournament will take place this weekend, beginning on Thursday, March 1, and wrapping up with a championship game on Tuesday, March 6. Unlike most tournaments, which run games consecutively, the WCC takes Sunday off to give teams rest between the quarterfinals and semifinals.
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The games will be held at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Here is Doc's Sports 2018 West Coast Conference preview and predictions, with my own projected odds:
The Favorite: Gonzaga (-200)
The Bulldogs won their sixth straight regular-season title and are now looking for their sixth straight tournament title. The Bulldogs have won seven of the last 10 championships in the WCC and are an overwhelming favorite to do so again here. The Bulldogs have won 11 straight after losing at home to St. Mary's, and they are rolling. Seniors John Williams and Silas Melson, along with junior point guard Josh Perkins, have Final Four experience, and the Bulldogs just have too much size and athleticism for the teams in this league.
The Contender: St. Mary's (+300)
The Gaels once again find themselves in the unenviable position of being squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Last year they survived and were rewarded with a No. 7 seed. But they were a snub despite a 27-5 mark in 2016. Four of their best players on this year's team were also members of that 2016 squad, and they certainly want to spare themselves Selection Sunday nervousness by punching their automatic ticket. The Gaels rely on execution, perimeter shots, and the versatility of Jock Landale. But they are going to need to bowl their backs and step up their defensive intensity if they are going to take down Gonzaga in a likely championship matchup.
The Dark Horse: BYU (+350)
The Cougars finished in third place in the WCC this year. But they suffered their most league losses (7) since joining the conference. This is a young BYU team. They don't even have a senior on the roster, and they start four sophomores. I don't think that they have the size or experience to beat Gonzaga. But this team could play the spoiler role and beat St. Mary's in the semifinals. BYU took the Gaels to overtime in the first meeting and would be playing with house money if they take on St. Mary's a third time.
Early-Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 3 BYU (-5) vs. No. 6 San Diego (4 p.m., Saturday, March 3)
San Diego slid to the No. 6 seed by virtue of a three-way tie with San Francisco and Pacific. But there is no doubt that the Toreros are the league's fourth-best team. That makes it a tough draw for BYU. These two teams split their regular-season meetings, and San Diego is one of the best defensive teams in the country. Their duo of Isaiah Pineiro and Isaiah Wright can be a handful, and since San Diego really only plays six or seven guys they don't have a lot moving parts. BYU has not been playing well. They are just 4-4 straight up in their last eight games, and two of the wins came in overtime. This could be a potential early-round upset.
West Coast Conference Tournament Predictions: I think St. Mary's is the team with the most pressure on them. Gonzaga expects to win. But they know this isn't one of their best teams. The Gaels need wins to boost their NCAA Tournament resume, so their attention may be split between The Big Dance and this potential championship. That's a lot of pressure. I want St. Mary's to win. And I definitely think they can take out a slightly-overvalued Bulldogs team in the title game. But until someone actually beats Gonzaga it's kind of foolish to bet against them cutting down the nets for a sixth straight season.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has posted 10 of 11 winning seasons. He is looking for a monster March run and will have an 8-Unit Conference Tournament Game of the Year next week. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here .
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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