Most people think of the West Coast Conference as the conference where the Gonzaga Bulldogs play, which is understandable given how Gonzaga has dominated the WCC in recent years. But the overall talent of the conference is up this season and the WCC has three teams with a realistic shot at making the NCAA Tournament in Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU, although the Cougars will have a tougher time than the first two.
Gonzaga: When you talk West Coast Conference, you have to bring up the Bulldogs, who are looking like a Sweet 16 team once again. Mark Few’s squad welcomes back Killian Tillie, who battled injury problems last season, which is probably the main reason he returned to school. Point guard Admon Gilder comes over from Texas A & M and will have an immediate impact.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels have a solid inside-outside tandem in point guard Jordan Ford, who is a good one, and 7-foot-3 big man Aaron Menzies. The Gaels will get after it right from the start, opening the season against Wisconsin on Tuesday.
BYU: The Cougars could well be an NCAA Tournament bubble team when March rolls around and they’re playing some pretty tough teams in the preseason, where they’ll be without Yoeli Childs for the first nine games. The Cougars have a new coach in Mark Pope.
Pepperdine: The Waves are a decent team, but look to be relegated to one of the minor tournaments, since they’re not as good as the top three teams.
San Francisco: The Dons have a new coach in Todd Golden after Kyle Smith bolted to Washington State. The Dons are pretty average offensively and defensively and should be around .500 at the end of the season.
Santa Clara: The Broncos have a decent shot at a postseason tournament, as they should start off the season strong, playing a pretty weak slate that includes a game against Notre Dame de Namur University. Things will definitely be tougher when WCC play rolls around.
Loyola-Marymount: The Lions are likely to flirt with a .500 record and a possible tournament appearance. Loyola isn’t bad defensively, although that has more to do with their pace than talent.
San Diego: The Toreros have a promising freshman in Marion Humphrey, but that’s about the best that can be said for them, as they lack the offense to compete against some of the other schools in the conference.
Pacific: The Tigers are another team who could finish in the vicinity of .500 due to a fairly soft preseason schedule. They’ll definitely be in the bottom half of the conference standings.
Portland: It looks to be a long season for the Terry Porter and the Pilots, who may just earn a couple of wins in conference play.
West Coast Conference Opening Power Ratings
|Saint Mary’s Gaels||90|
|San Francisco Dons||78|
|Santa Clara Broncos||77|
|San Diego Toreros||71|