Bulldogs Still Have WCC Title Hopes Entering Final Day
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Gonzaga secured the No. 2 seed into the West Coast Conference Tournament with Thursday's 74-63 home win, now the Bulldogs hope there's a little magic left in their season to claim a 12th straight WCC regular-season title.
Gonzaga (12-3) trails league-leading Saint Mary's College (13-2) by one game heading into the final day of the regular season. Gonzaga visits the University of San Diego Saturday while the Gaels head to the University of San Francisco. SMC has already clinched the No. 1 seed into the WCC Tournament.
The University of San Diego already has the No. 6 seed into the West Coast Conference Tournament wrapped up, but with a win over Gonzaga the Toreros can still climb into a fifth-place tie with the University of San Francisco if the Dons fall to Saint Mary's College. USF would win the tiebreaker. USD is coached by former Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier, in his fifth year at the helm. Grier was an assistant coach with the Bulldogs for 16 years from 1992-07.
Gonzaga leads the series with the University of San Diego 59-20 following a 77-60 victory in the first meeting this season in Spokane. The Zags have won 29 of the last 31 meetings. The Toreros defeated the Zags 69-62 in the title game of the 2008 West Coast Conference Tournament and 72-63 in the 2003 WCC Tournament title game, both played at USD. Last year's meeting in San Diego was a record-breaker for the Zags as they set a school record for fewest points allowed in the 68-31 victory.
Most of the seeds for the West Coast Conference Tournament heading into the final day of the regular season. Saint Mary's College has the top seed secured, Gonzaga the No. 2 seed, the University of San Francisco the No. 5 seed, the University of San Diego the No. 6 seed and Santa Clara University the No. 9 seed. BYU has a one-game lead over Loyola Marymount University for third and fourth, and LMU holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its win over SMC. Pepperdine University is one game up on the University of Portland for the seventh and eighth seed, BYU hosting Portland Saturday while Pepperdine has concluded its WCC season. The tiebreaker favors Portland.
Gonzaga will play the late semifinal game next Saturday in the West Coast Conference Tournament against either the No. 3 seed (BYU or Loyola Marymount University), the No. 6 seed (University of San Diego) or the No. 7 seed (Pepperdine University of University of Portland). The top two teams receive byes into the WCC semifinals, third and fourth receive byes into the quarterfinals and the eighth and ninth seeds must play a Wednesday play-in game in the new 9-team format. The No. 5 seed plays No. 8 and No. 6 plays No. 7 Thursday, No. 3 plays the winner of 5/8 and No. 4 plays the winner of 6/7.
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