Friday, March 4, 2005

West Coast Conference Tournament Preview

Everyone that even occasionally follows college basketball knows about Gonzaga. However, most people don't know that St. Mary's only finished one game back of them and split their two meetings. No other team finished above .500 in the league, although several teams are talented enough to create some havoc in the tournament.
Favorites: Obviously, Gonzaga is the odds-on favorite to win the tournament. The frontcourt of Adam Morrison, JP Batista, and Ronny Turiaf is nearly impossible to match, not only in the WCC, but in the country. Derek Raivio is a great three point shooter, while Errol Knight is the best defender in the conference. St. Mary's is going to present a challenge for the Zags, as they have a great inside-outside combination in Paul Marigney and Daniel Kickert. Frederic Adjiwanou is one of the top rebounders in the conference, and E.J. Rowland is a solid point guard. St. Mary's also leads the league in scoring defense.
Sleepers: San Francisco has one of the best duos in the conference in wing John Cox and forward Tyrone Riley, who combine for 36 points and 13 rebounds per game. Santa Clara has swept St. Mary's and also owns wins over North Carolina and Stanford. Doron Perkins, Travis Niesen, and Kyle Bailey are the most proficient trio in the league, putting up over 45 points and 15 rebounds per contest.
Prediction: Gonzaga and St. Mary's are virtual locks to make the championship, although Santa Clara could possibly knock off the Gaels. The Zags have more experience and more overall talent at both ends of the floor. No one on St. Mary's is good enough to match up with Morrison; he is going to carry them to victory and a WCC Championship.

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