Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Only once before, in 2008, has West Coast Conference earned three bids to the Big Bracket.

It could and should happen again this year.

Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.

The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.

The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.

Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)

The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.

So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.



Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.


  1. Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
  2. Elias Harris, Gonzaga
  3. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
  4. Brandon Davies, BYU
  5. Noah Hartsock, BYU

Conference RPI: 11

KenPom.com rating: 11

Sagarin rating: 11

NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
  • Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
  • Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
  • Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
  • Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
  • San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
  • San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
  • Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.

By Matt Norlander

Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:45 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 8:57 am

Wakeup: Ultimate reference list to conf tourneys

Hoyas fans dressed proudly and in unison for Senior Night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

Time-traveling hipster will be all over your Tumblrs and Facebook feeds by Wednesday afternoon. // Volcano eruption imminent. // Seems like such a nice guy. // One of my former colleagues helped write a riveting story about a cannibal. Read it ...

★ Marcus Morris allegedly got punch-happy at a bar after Kansas knocked out Missouri.

★ Wow. This is an incredible piece of reference. It has every single school playing in conference tournament with links to online streams, radio stations. Very valuable.

Derek Needham done for the year for Fairfield, which means the fourth-seeded Stags' hopes to win the MAAC just became realllly slim.


Depressing but not at all surprising.

★ Heady analysis here by Jason Lisk; his definition of the bubble completely matches mine.

★ This Dan Hanner chunky soup of a column reinforces my undying love for college basketball. Sorry to get crude, but it's a terrific poop-and-read.

★ Yes is this a superb column from Pat Forde on Sean Woods.

★ The best big man you've never seen play.

★ This column on Calipari from Doyel makes you think.

★ Keiton Page is now the 3-point leader for Oklahoma State, all-time.

Duke as a No. 1 seed is an impossibility to get a handle on until the Blue Devils' home game against the Tar Heels completes this Saturday.

★ Montana and Weber State play tonight. That game has big implications.

★ Thinking this Kindle/eBook on college basketball tournament trivia is the perfect thing for you.

★ Really like the assortment of good reads in today's Wakeup Call. Scott Powers put together this piece for ESPNChicago.com.

★ New Orleans begins its prep for the Final Four.

♬ The best radio hit OK Go's had is "Do What You Want." Good power pop band. Feel better about yourself; it's Tuesday.

Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:00 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 5:56 pm

Saint Mary's loss gives more hope to Zags Streak

By Jeff Goodman

Gonzaga still has a shot to extend The Streak. 

After last night's shocking loss by Saint Mary's at home against Loyola Marymount, the 'Zags can move within a half-game of the Gaels with a road victory tonight against a Santa Clara team that is winless in WCC play. 

Just a week ago, it seemed far-fetched to think Mark Few could run the program's streak of consecutive WCC regular-season titles to a dozen. Then the Zags took care of Saint Mary's in Spokane -- and the Gaels lost at LMU and also may have lost key starter Stephen Holt, who suffered a knee injury and won't play against Murray State this weekend. 

As I noted last week on my trip out to Spokane, this is a Gonzaga team that has found a way to remain under the radar despite being 20-4 overall (it's the 15th consecutive season the Zags have won at least 20). Maybe it was the losses to Michigan State and Illinois -- or the league setbacks at Saint Mary's and BYU (two difficult places to play). Or maybe it was the fact that the Gaels were dominating the WCC and unbeaten at 11-0 until last week. 

But Gonzaga's freshmen guards -- Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell -- have matured  and the Zags have a couple of experienced guys up front in Robert Sacre and Elias Harris that are capable of playing with just about anyone. Pangos averaged 24 points, 5.5 assists and didn't turn the ball over at all in the last two wins against Saint Mary's and LMU. 

The Zags, with a strong finish in the final five regular-season games, can make it 12 consecutive seasons. 

Just one shy of UCLA's record of 13 straight league crowns back in the glory days from 1967-79. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:04 pm

Mark Few isn't going anywhere -- ever

By Jeff Goodman

SPOKANE, Wash. - Now I get it. 

Mark Few's name is seemingly always out there circulating in late-March and throughout April. When Arizona was looking for a coach a couple years ago, Few's name was near the top of the list. Same for Indiana and, of course, Oregon. 

Few isn't going anywhere. Ever. 

Trust me on this one. 

I never quite understood it, but after taking my first trip to Spokane for the Zags' win over Saint Mary's last night, I'll no longer question why Few spurns just everyone. 

Life is good for Few in Spokane. 

No, life is great

He's an outdoors man, a family man, one of the few in this industry who seem to walk the walk and truly put the balance of work and family from words into action. 

"He sees things in a different light than most people," said Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti. "And he has the balance to make it work." 

There's multiple fishing spots an hour away in just about every direction. He wakes up, steps outside his log cabin and looks out into a picturesque view of the valley. 

"The worst day of the year for me is the first day of school," Few said to me a few hours prior to Thursday night's win over the Gaels. "And the best day is the last day of school." 

That's because the 48-year-old Few has a chance to spend more time with his four young children (ages 3 to 12). On Wednesday night, just 24 hours or so before the Zags biggest game of the season, he could be found at his oldest son A.J's trumpet recital. He heads to his favorite lunch spot and no one bothers him as he blends in with all the natives. 

He'll never be confused with Tom Izzo for his unrelenting work ethic, but that doesn't bother him. He's at peace with himself and what he does to keep the program as one of the elite and most consistent in the country. He doesn't have to go out and speak to alumni on a nightly basis like some coaches, but he has helped organize an annual Coaches vs. Cancer event that has raised more than $5 million -- second only to Syracuse. 

Few understands what he has and is more than just content with it. The Zags have one of the elite student sections in the nation, Few is able to take private plans just about everywhere he needs to go out recruiting -- and his team charters just about everywhere as well. 

Few's an icon in these parts, having taken this program to an unparalleled level for a non-BCS outfit. There is the 334-87 overall record. There's been an NCAA appearance every single season he's been at the helm and also that 11-year streak of winning a league title that's in jeopardy with the Zags currently trailing Saint Mary's by one game. 

Those will criticize him for his inability to get to a Final Four, but Few isn't consumed by it. Instead, he beckons back to the consistency for this program, one that has become a fixture in the Top 25 over the past decade or so. 

Few could have gone to Indiana and had an opportunity to play in the Big Ten. He could have gone to Arizona and had a chance to regularly compete for Final Fours. He could have gone back home to Oregon, where he went to school. It's a stone's throw from where his parents reside. 

But he opted to remain in Spokane -- and he's never leaving.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:06 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:17 am

Gonzaga keeps The Streak alive

By Jeff Goodman

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga's streak isn't over yet. 

A year ago, the Zags made a late run after trailing Saint Mary's by three games to claim a share of the WCC title. It was the 11th consecutive season that Mark Few's team had sat at the top of the WCC, just two shy of UCLA's record of 13. 

Few and his team got blasted by 21 at Saint Mary's last month and then dropped one a couple weeks ago in Provo to BYU while the Gaels rolled through the league slate, winning their first 11 games. 

A two-game edge with five to play. 

But the 'Zags kept their hopes alive on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at the McCarthey Athletic Center -- and one of the most rabid and entertaining student sections I've ever seen. 

It was freshman point guard Kevin Pangos, who has fallen off the national radar since his nine-trifecta performance against Washington State on Nov. 15, who led the 'Zags to a 73-59 win over Saint Mary's. 

Few was upset that his team didn't play tough against BYU -- and they were manhandled on the road in Moraga. But they came out with plenty of intensity in what was the most important game of the season -- and knocked off a Saint Mary's team that came in with a No. 13 ranking and a 12-game winning streak.

That streak is now history. 

But The Streak remains alive.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 7, 2012 12:57 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:21 pm

Tuesday poll, here we go

By Matt Norlander

You know what to do. Here we are again, voting on the outcomes of games. The results will air on "Courtside with Seth Davis" Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET, as well as "Inside College Basketball," which goes live at 11 p.m. ET later that night. Both shows, of course, are on the CBS Sports Network.

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 4:10 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

The Missouri beat writer is voting Missouri fourth.

I don't like it because it's wrong.

But I kinda like it because it's ballsy.

Either way, I wrote about it (and other things) in the Poll Attacks.

(Don't believe me, keep reading.)

Associated Press poll: Jeff Goodman and I ranked Missouri second in the Top 25 (and one). I believe that's right where the Tigers belong based on their body of work, but I can understand somebody putting Kentucky, Ohio State and/or Syracuse ahead of them. It would be wrong, in my opinion. But a reasonable argument could be made. So I'm not gonna freak out about the five AP voters who have Missouri ranked fourth this week. I just think it's funny that one of them is Steve Walentik from the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Yes, Steve covers Missouri in Columbia.

And he's one of the few ranking the Tigers too low.

But I kinda dig it because I know Steve must be catching hell -- especially since he has Big 12 rival Kansas ranked one spot ahead of Missouri despite the fact that KU has three losses (including a loss to unranked Davidson) while Missouri has just one loss (at Kansas State) and is coming off a road win (at Baylor) that's better than any road win the Jayhawks possess. I mean, how strong-willed do you have to be to (incorrectly) rank the team you cover lower than 60 of the other 65 AP voters? That takes some balls.

So I hereby declare Steve Walentik an anti-homer.

He could make the CBSSports.com All Anti-Homer Beat Writer Team that'll be unveiled in March.

Anyway ...

Norm Wood screwed up pretty good this week.

He writes for a newspaper in Virginia.

He has Wisconsin ranked 10th and Marquette unranked, which is stupid for three reasons.
  1. Wisconsin shouldn't be ranked 10th anywhere.
  2. Marquette shouldn't unranked anywhere.
  3. Wisconsin shouldn't be ranked ahead of Marquette
Marquette is ahead of Wisconsin in the AP poll, the Coaches poll and the Top 25 (and one) because though Marquette and Wisconsin have similar bodies of work -- both have one win over a currently ranked team -- Marquette actually has a win at Wisconsin. That's got to count for something. But Norm has Wisconsin ranked 10th and Marquette unranked, and I bet that doesn't make sense to the folks in Milwaukee.

Or the folks in Moraga.

My guess is they're just as confused about Norm's decision to put Wisconsin so far ahead of Marquette as they are about his decision to put Gonzaga seven spots ahead of their Saint Mary's Gaels. In case you haven't been following the WCC, here's what you need to know: SMC and Gonzaga -- like Wisconsin and Marquette -- have similar bodies of work, but SMC owns an 83-62 win over Gonzaga.

Again, that's got to count for something.

I'm not saying Saint Mary's is clearly better than Gonzaga.

I'm just saying you can't have Gonzaga ranked seven spots ahead of Saint Mary's right now.

I mean, you can.

I guess.

But look at what happens when you do it.

Coaches poll: Last week was a prove-it week for New Mexico.

Some folks were already ranking the Lobos.

Others -- like us -- were not.

But what we all agreed on last Monday was that New Mexico would have a chance to prove or disprove it belongs because the Lobos had upcoming games against nationally ranked San Diego State (at home) and UNLV (on the road), and I had basically decided that a split would be enough to launch Steve Alford's team into the Top 25 (and one).

But the Lobos lost both games.

They lost 75-70 at home to San Diego State and 80-63 on the road at UNLV.

So why is New Mexico still getting votes in the coaches poll?

Answer: I don't kow.

New Mexico is 15-4 with zero wins over schools receiving votes in either major poll and two losses to teams (New Mexico State and Santa Clara) that aren't receiving votes. In other words, the Lobos are good ... but they're good with an extremely thin resume. They had two chances to record a notable win last week, but they couldn't do it. And that's why they shouldn't be on anybody's ballot until they show that they can.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:16 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:59 pm

Saint Mary's: contender or pretender?

The Gaels are good -- but how good? Gonzaga on Thursday night should help us find out. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Jeff Goodman

It's finally time to see if Saint Mary's is for real. 

Randy Bennett has played a soft non-conference slate for the most part. There was the tournament in November in Las Vegas where Saint Mary's split against Baylor and Missouri State, but it's been difficult to tell whether the Gaels are a legitimate NCAA tournament squad thus far. 

Tomorrow night Bennett welcomes Gonzaga to Moraga for its anticipated matchup with the Bulldogs. 

We know the 'Zags are a legit Top 25 team. Mark Few's team always plays a brutal non-conference slate and this season was no different. Sure, they lost at home to Michigan State and on the road against Illinois -- but Gonzaga has beaten a bunch of decent teams: Arizona, Notre Dame, Butler and Oral Roberts. 

Few has plugged the most noticeable hole from a year ago -- at the point guard spot -- with freshman Kevin Pangos. The 'Zags have Elias Harris and Robert Sacre up front and freshman Gary Bell has started to emerge on the wing. There's also depth with guys like Marquise Carter and David Stockton in the backcourt, Guy Landy on the wing and Sam Dower up front. 

No one quite knows what to make out of the Gaels. 

They have a 1-2 punch in Aussie guard Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones. 

But with a lackluster resume, Saint Mary's will likely need to finish in the top two in the WCC to have a shot to get to the NCAA tournament. 

Bennett's team beat BYU already in Moraga, but that doesn't mean all that much. Last I checked, Jimmer wasn't in Provo any longer -- and the Cougars and the Missouri State team that the Gaels beat in Vegas could both be NIT teams come March. 

One loss came against defeated Baylor, the other at Denver. 

I'm a huge Dellavedova guy -- and Jones has been performing like a first-team all-league guy. 

But that's really all we know about Saint Mary's. Until Thursday night when the 'Zags come to town. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com