Season Predictions: West Coast Conference Basketball

1. Gonzaga. Robert Sacre is gone, but coach Mark Few has two more 7-footers ready to plug in. They just need to play defense and clean up around the rim. Meanwhile, the rest of this team can score from anywhere, and on anyone. This team is a lock for their 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament, with the only question being if they can crack a top-4 seed for the first time since 2009.

2. St. Mary's. #FreeBradWaldow. When a team loses their big man and he draws interest from the NFL, you'd think there might be some space issues in the middle. But Brad Waldow is that good. He can replace Rob Jones. Buddy him up with the best pair of guards in the conference, and the Gaels roll will continue. Unfortunately, they're still going to have issues on defense, which will allow Gonzaga to regain control of the conference.

3. BYU. It will be no easy task replacing Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo, especially as the BYU offense was surprising pedestrian last year with those two. But guard Tyler Haws returns after his Mission and should be primed for a big sophomore year. If they can refind their offense, they could supplant Gonzaga and St. Mary's at the top.

4. San Diego. Can someone please grab a rebound? San Diego will be the surprise team in the conference, but lack of rebounding will keep them from making a serious run at the big three. 322nd in offensive rebounding and 229th in defensive rebounding means they're losing the critical possession battle.

5. Loyola Marymount. Drew Viney and Laron Armstead have graduated, and Jarred Dubois transferred. That's a lot of minutes. Luckily (not really) Max Good has gotten used to constantly shuffling lineups due to injuries. As long as junior point guard Anthony Ireland stays healthy, they'll be alright.

6. Portland. This team lost a lot of close games last year (three in conference by a single possession) and though they graduated Nemanja Mitrovic – he was really a liability last season, which was tough to watch after he put up remarkable numbers as a junior. Point guard Tim Douglas is also gone, another player who regressed. But Coach Reveno has a lot of intriguing pieces to work with and should have this program back on track.

7. Pepperdine. Pepperdine is in this slot because, well, no one else really wants to be. Go Waves. (To be fair, they have an excellent recruiting class).

8. Santa Clara. The good news is that Santa Clara returns everyone of note. The bad news is that they went 0-16 in conference and couldn't guard anyone.

9. San Francisco. Head coach Rex Walters doesn't seem alarmed by the mass bailout on his program – six players left – but if your job was on the line you wouldn't point to the fact that you're difficult to play for either.


Kevin Pangos, So., Gonzaga (Player of the Year)

Matthew Delavedova, Sr., St. Mary's

Sam Dower, Jr., Gonzaga

Brad Waldow, So., St. Mary's

Brandon Davies, Sr., BYU