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WCC Odds, Third State of Conference Betting Report: BYU or Santa Clara?

WCC Odds, Third State of Conference Betting Report: BYU or Santa Clara? article feature image
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Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Dallin Hall (BYU)

The West Coast Conference stands about the same as it did during the last update, with Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga still sit atop the conference.

The Zags had a couple of close calls on the road, but have still shown that they are like The Goonies and never say die.

Goonies Never Say Die GIF - Goonies Never Say Die Love ...

The Gaels still look like the most dominant team, even though they have the same record as Gonzaga.

The battle for third place — and possibly the final WCC at-large bid — will be between BYU and Santa Clara. BYU has only played Gonzaga at home, while the Broncos of Santa Clara lost closely to both Saint Mary’s and the Zags at their place.

Thursday night, the Broncos host the Cougars, so this should show who truly can keep up with the top two teams in the conference.


Santa Clara or BYU?

Which of these teams is better? Well, the look-ahead line on KenPom is Santa Clara -2, but a one-possession conference game is about as close as it can get.

Santa Clara has a few highlights. It’s the better offensive team between these two. It can shoot the 3. In fact, per ShotQuality, the Broncos rank 18th in 3-point efficiency and 25th in offensive spacing. They also have an offensive rebounding percentage of 33.3%, which ranks 48th in college hoops.

On the flip side, BYU ranks seventh in the nation in defensive rebounding. Per KenPom, it has the 30th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, but it shoots a ton of 3s and only makes 31.7% from deep.

This offense is much more porous.

Photo by CBB Analytics

Overall, Santa Clara is probably the more balanced team and should come out slightly ahead in this matchup.

BYU is permitting opponents to shoot 33.1% from outside the arc. Brandin Podziemski and Carlos Stewart could be offensive mismatches if the Broncos space well enough.


But is BYU a Tourney Team?

This game against Santa Clara will sort the WCC properly.

Right now, the top four in the WCC is about as expected. San Francisco has fallen to the wayside at 1-5 in conference. Loyola Marymount can battle back from 3-3, but it will take a few upsets.

BYU needs to show it can beat the best in the conference. For one, it needs to at least split with Santa Clara. Winning on the road will be a testament to the Cougars’ game plan, but they need to win the game February 16 against the Broncos on their own turf.

The Cougars also cannot drop any “gimmes.” This means they cannot lose to Loyola Marymount at home.

KenPom only has BYU’s game on Saturday at San Francisco as -2, so this could also be within one possession. The Dons are another team that loves to launch 3s. In fact, they rank fourth in the nation in 3-point attempt percentage.

This is one reason I have not been too high on BYU yet. Yes, it blew a lead in a game where it was beating Gonzaga handily, but this team lost too many games early and needs to make up for it.

Losing to South Dakota (294th in KenPom) and Utah Valley at home does not help come committee time.

To make the NCAA tournament, the Cougars need to win three of the next four games to give them a boost for later in the season. That means they need a win over Santa Clara on the road or Saint Mary’s at home.

Both are tall tasks, considering the makeup of each team.

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Toughest Stretch for Saint Mary’s

This team plays Pepperdine this Thursday on the road. The Gaels have one single-digit game in conference play, and it came on the road against Santa Clara.

Otherwise, they cleaned up at San Francisco and at home against San Diego, Portland and Loyola Marymount.

After the game against Pepperdine, the Gaels take on Santa Clara again, but this time it will be at home. They then travel to BYU, and then they play host to San Francisco and Gonzaga. If they can come out ahead in all of these games, they will be on track for the one-seed going into the WCC Tournament.

Gonzaga has seemingly lucked out in every game on the road. The look-ahead line on KenPom is -4 for Saint Mary’s, but ShotQuality has the Gaels losing by eight.

This game between the two WCC juggernauts will be an old-school matchup of defense versus offense.

Saint Mary’s is one of the most prominent defensive teams in the country. Gonzaga has shown a propensity to struggle against a team like this on the road (i.e. Texas), but the Zags are on a roll with 11 straight wins.

On the other side of the floor, Gonzaga has one of the best offenses in the nation. It can shoot the 3 and get the ball inside.

However, the Zags rank 287th in 3-point attempt percentage. Per ShotQuality, four of their top six most efficient plays come from deep from Rasir Bolton, Malachi Smith or Julian Strawther.

This needs to come to the surface because Saint Mary’s limits teams on the inside. Opponents are only shooting 43.7% on 2-pointers against the Gaels, but are shooting around 31% from outside the arc.

Also, the Gaels force teams to shoot outside the arc. They rank 34th in the NCAA in 3-point attempt percentage on defense, so if Gonzaga would like to defeat the Gaels in yet another close road game, it needs to find the open 3.

JULIAN STRAWTHER WITH THE DAGGER 🎯

Gonzaga comes back to win it‼️ pic.twitter.com/vjSQ3vSP48

— ESPN (@espn) January 13, 2023


WCC State of Conference Wrap Up

The heat of WCC play is just picking up. The matchup between Gonzaga and BYU last Thursday was intriguing, and we are just getting started. The games to look out for coming up are:

  • January 19: Santa Clara vs. BYU
  • January 21: Saint Mary’s vs. Santa Clara
  • January 28: BYU vs. Saint Mary’s
  • February 4: Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga

Obviously, we will know more about the conference layout before early February, but keeping an eye on the classic rivalry between Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga is a great idea.

This is the year Saint Mary’s can triumph and no longer be the little brother.

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