- Ky McKeon
3MW’s All Conference Team:
Player of the Year: Brandon Clarke, R Jr., Gonzaga
Coach of the Year: Mark Few, Gonzaga
Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Clarke, R Jr., Gonzaga
Freshman of the Year: Trey Wertz, Fr., Santa Clara
For the 5th time in Mark Few’s 20 seasons at the helm, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have gone undefeated in WCC play. Further establishing the fact that the Zags are more akin to a Blue Blood versus a mid-major, Few’s squad ran roughshod over the league, winning games by an average margin of 27 points including one game by 59 and two more by over 40. The Zags won by less than double digits in league play as many times as I’ve gone out with Kate Beckinsale (zero - shocking, I know). Few’s squad is a surefire 1-seed come Tourney time and is currently the 4th best team EVER in the KenPom era.
2. West Coast Competitive
Top to bottom, this was one of the best WCC seasons in history. Aside from the Gonzaga juggernaut, teams like Saint Mary’s, BYU, and San Francisco turned in very competitive seasons and sit squarely on the bubble heading into tourney play. Six WCC teams won over 18 games and four ranked in the KenPom 100 (San Diego was just outside).
3. Zags Plus 1?
Storyline #2 brings us into Storyline #3… will anybody be joining Gonzaga in the Field of 68? Despite the strong NET ratings of Saint Mary’s (38), San Fran (65), and BYU (77), the likely answer to this question is “no.” The Gaels have just one Q1 victory on the year (at New Mexico State), San Fran has zero, and BYU has one (over Utah State) combined with a host of bad losses. Each of these teams desperately needed a signature win over Gonzaga, but alas the Zags went Super Saiyan and destroyed everything in sight.
The Tournament will be held from March 7 through March 12, 2019 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Top two seeds receive a bye to the semi-finals, seeds #3 and #4 receive byes to the quarterfinals, and seeds #5 and #6 receive byes to the second round.
Best Team and Projected NCAA Tournament Seed
You’d be kidding yourself if you picked any team outside of Gonzaga to win this conference tournament. As stated loud in clear above while simultaneously giving away my success courting Kate Beckinsale, the Zags haven’t even come close to losing in conference play this season. If they win - or even if they lose - the Zags should be a 1-seed in March.
Dark Horse Team
If by some divine intervention Gonzaga fails to take home the conference tourney title, a slew of teams have the talent to steal the auto-bid. Saint Mary’s, BYU, San Francisco, San Diego, and LMU all have rosters capable of hanging with Power 6 competition. If we want to really get technical, I’d pick a team not on Gonzaga’s side of the bracket (so bye-bye San Fran and LMU). This leaves BYU and Saint Mary’s as having the best shot at taking home the WCC crown outside of the Zags. I’ll take a homerun swing and say the Cougars.
For the record, I do think San Francisco stands the best chance at beating Gonzaga, but the Dons come limping into the tournament on a three-game losing skid.
(9) Pacific over (8) Pepperdine
(7) San Diego over (10) Portland
(5) Loyola Marymount over (9) Pacific
(7) San Diego over (6) Santa Clara
(4) San Francisco over (5) Loyola Marymount
(3) BYU over (7) San Diego
(1) Gonzaga over (4) San Francisco
(3) BYU over (2) Saint Mary’s
(1) Gonzaga over (3) BYU
The Zags are just too tough folks. A Saint Mary’s loss in the semis ends the Gael’s hope for a Tourney bid and Gonzaga earns a top seed in March.