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College Basketball State of the WCC Betting Report: Disappointment in Provo & Dominance in Spokane

College Basketball State of the WCC Betting Report: Disappointment in Provo & Dominance in Spokane article feature image
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Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Timme (Gonzaga)

West Coast Conference play is in full swing, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs have owned the league, as expected.

San Francisco was its greatest test in the WCC before the Zags floored the Dons by 16 points.

Other than that, the conference is as strong as I mentioned in the last article.

San Diego and Santa Clara are tough teams that are not currently mentioned in Bracketology, but they could find themselves in those conversations with a couple of inter-conference resume builders.


Disappointment in Provo

BYU might be the most noteworthy disappointment to date. The Cougars have a victory over Saint Mary’s, but they have dropped games to Santa Clara and Pacific on the road. The latter is a total letdown.

This is the reason they currently rank fourth in the conference.

In the Pacific loss, the Cougars lost the turnover battle 14 to 10. For a team that kept it clean for much of its non-conference slate and the beginning of conference play, this has been the Cougars’ crux lately.

Alex Barcello and Fousseyni Traore have been the main culprits, leading the team in turnovers in each of its past two games, respectively.

Another reason the Cougars dropped the game to Pacific is their lack of success from downtown. As a team, it had been shooting over 35% from deep and over 37% in WCC play.

This shifted dramatically in the Pacific game, as the Cougars only hit 31.8% from outside, while the Tigers landed 40.9% from 3-point land.

If BYU does not clean it up offensively, teams will build off of the film of these last two outings.

Also, if the Cougars do not hit their 3s, they could seemingly be sunk, particularly against taller opponents that can prevent them from getting inside the paint.


Toreros Rising Up the Ranks

San Diego has jolted onto the scene.

As I pointed out in the last article, Jase Townsend’s return was imminent, and this has helped propel the Toreros up the standings. They currently rank ahead of BYU in third place with a 6-3 WCC record.

Even with a 13-9 record as of the end of January, they have definitely surprised WCC fans.

The Toreros are no joke, and their schedule over the next month could prove so.

Their next outing is at home against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs will likely trounce the Toreros, but San Diego has a shot to win every other game on its schedule.

It would be tough, considering the team will have to play Saint Mary’s both home and away, Santa Clara at home and San Francisco at home. However, since the Toreros only have two remaining road games, they have a shot to finish conference play strong.

The reason for this is they played BYU and Santa Clara tightly on the road. They only lost to BYU by eight.

In the loss to Santa Clara, the Toreros took them to overtime. This game was neck-and-neck the whole way through, but the Broncos outlasted them in extra time.

Shortly put, the Toreros belong in the conversation in the WCC, especially if they can manage to only lose up to two games down the stretch. This would give them a great seed for the WCC Tournament and could land them in the bubble conversation for the NCAA Tournament.

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Zags Cruising Along

The Zags really have only been tested for about a half against San Francisco. Otherwise, conference play has been a cakewalk — seriously, they put up over 110 points in three straight games.

Much of this is due to the dynamic play of Wooden Award contenders, Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.

I mean just look at this mismatch:

Projected No. 1 pick Chet Holmgren went 4/6 for 3 last night, including one impressive pullup in transition after pushing off the glass. He's now shooting 46% for 3 (19/34 [56%] in his last ten games), and is ranked second among Top-100 prospects in 3P% despite standing 7-foot-1. pic.twitter.com/Z3cByC2taR

— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) January 30, 2022

They are not the only names that should be mentioned with Gonzaga’s success, though.

Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Andrew Nembhard all average double digits in scoring on the season. Yes, this has to do with the ridiculously fast-paced possessions from the Bulldogs (14.4 seconds per possession, which ranks first in the NCAA), but this is a team sport, and they distribute the scoring evenly.

This will come in handy come tourney time, as Mark Few has his eyes set on a National Championship. The Bulldogs should be nowhere else because this team has a true shot.

Gonzaga’s name is only mentioned with a few other squads that are top-20 in both Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom. The others are: Kentucky, Baylor, Villanova, Houston, Auburn, Arizona and UCLA.

This is good company, and proves, yet again, how the WCC is a strong conference and how good Gonzaga truly is.

Keep in mind, the Zags still have to play BYU, San Francisco and Saint Mary’s on the road. Sure, they have won by major margins over multiple conference foes, but these might be situations where Gonzaga actually can be tested.

If they win all of these games by similarly wide point-discrepancies, then you might be able to chalk the Bulldogs in as a Final Four team already.

They can build their resume in the potential four-to-five bid West Coast Conference.


WCC Conclusion

The WCC has plenty of notable games on the schedule — especially when BYU hosts Gonzaga on Feb. 5. If BYU can put it together from 3-point land, it may be able to test the Bulldogs. KenPom has this game’s line at -8 for the Zags.

In addition, San Diego plays that same day against Santa Clara at home. If the Toreros can edge the Broncos out in this game, they could be mentioned with the tops of the WCC. Do not sleep on the Toreros.

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