Forget about winning the WCC–Gonzaga has to beat BYU tonite to avoid third place!

A couple weeks ago, when I was speculating on Gonzaga’s chances to keep the streak alive, I noted that the Zags had a much tougher remaining schedule than rival Saint Mary’s.  And while the Gaels did ‘em a favour by losing to LMU, the favour was returned on Saturday when Gonzaga dropped a tight game in the dying seconds, 66-65 at San Francisco.  Man, that one felt like a punch to the gut.  After the refs called more charges than I’ve ever seen in 39 minutes, they put the whistle away for the last three plays, which ended up costing Gonzaga the game.  Not that the Zags really played well enough to win, but Elias Harris was definitely hacked on that drive to the basket, and the game-winning shot by Rashad Green only went in after he bumped Kevin Pangos.  Had that play happened two minutes earlier, it woulda been an offensive foul.  Just sayin’…

That being said, the loss effectively halted Gonzaga’s WCC championship streak at 11, the second-longest in college basketball history, albeit two shy of the 1970′s UCLA Bruins.  Saint Mary’s would hafta lose to either Portland or those same USF Dons to give Gonzaga another shot–and the Zags still have some work to do.  In fact, if they lose to BYU tonite, they would drop to third place in the conference, something that hasn’t happened since they made that first run to the Elite Eight so many years ago (1999 to be exact).

The addition of BYU has added some spice to the West Coast Conference, and although they dropped two games to Saint Mary’s and lost a shocker to LMU at home, they’ve still got an outside shot at the Dance.  Beating Gonzaga would certainly help, but they’ll hafta win the conference tournament next weekend to punch their ticket.  And since the top two teams both receive byes to the WCC tourney semi-finals, sealing up second place is crucial for both squads in tonite’s game (tip-off 11 pm Eastern on ESPN2–The Score’s showing another craptacular Pac-12 matchup, so I’ll hafta watch this one online).  Keep in mind that the Fightin’ Mormons beat the Zags by 10 in Utah back on Feb 2, and that one wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.  I actually turned off the TV with about eight minutes to go–hey, it was another 11 o’clock start on the East Coast…

If there’s one great equalizer in college basketball though, it’s the home-court advantage.  Gonzaga’s worst loss of the season came by a 21-point margin at Saint Mary’s, but they avenged it about a month later with a 14-point win at The Kennel.  You also don’t wanna face a good team coming off a bad loss, either.  When the Zags went to Provo, BYU had dropped back-to-back home games to SMC and LMU.  They came out all guns blazin’–as I expect the Zags to do tonite.  I usually save my predictions for hockey, but I’m going to call this one a five-point win for Gonzaga.  Final score?  78-73.  Should be a good one…

GO GONZAGA! G-O-N-Z-A-G-A!

UPDATE 8:55 PM: Just logged on to the Gonzaga men’s basketball forum, where this one guy made almost the exact same prediction as I did–only he illustrated his with MS Paint.  Funny shit.

In light of this, I feel the need to award an extra point to Gonzaga.  79-73 Zags.

UPDATE 2/26: It’s official: the streak is over.  Although Gonzaga pulled off victories against BYU and San Diego, St. Mary’s beat Portland with ease and hung on against their cross-bay rivals to win their first outright WCC championship since 1989.  The game at SFU went down to the wire again, the difference being that this time the Dons didn’t make their shots down the stretch, missing some key free throws and a late three pointer, allowing Saint Mary’s to hang on for the win.  Hey, I guess having the second-longest conference title streak in college basketball is nothing to sneeze at…

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One response to “Forget about winning the WCC–Gonzaga has to beat BYU tonite to avoid third place!

  1. Pingback: March Madness comes a couple weeks early as the Zags and Cougs do battle in the WCC tournament! | Gruesome Views

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