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West Coast Notebook

February 16, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

West Coast Notebook

Big Time – 1 vs. 2
The Kennel Club will be barking loud and clear this weekend when Pepperdine comes to Spokane for a rematch against 8th-ranked Gonzaga. Amongst the many reasons to watch the game on ESPN 2: the Zags are attempting to avenge their only defeat in their last twenty games as well as their only conference loss of the season. It’s also “Dan Dickau Bobblehead Day” at the Kennel. OK, not really, but it is the last game at home for the senior point guard as well as fellow seniors Anthony Reason and Alex Hernandez. The senior transfer trio hasn’t lost at home in two years playing for the Bulldogs.

A win against Loyola Marymount on Thursday and a victory against the Waves would put the Zags into a tie for the WCC lead. A win for Pepperdine, assuming they also win at Portland on the 14th, would put them two games in front and clinch at least a tie for the conference regular season crown. With a second win over Gonzaga and early season wins over UCLA and USC, would Paul Westphal’s Pepperdine squad finally get some love from the Top 25 polls?

Heads or tails?
According to Gonzaga Sports Information Director, Oliver Pierce, if the Bulldogs defeat Pepperdine and the two teams each end the season with one conference loss, the WCC tournament’s number one seed will be decided by a coin flip. After head-to-head competition in which both would have a win, the next tie-breaker is record against conference opponents, which would be the same for both teams. After that it comes down to the luck of the coin.

Player of the Week
6’8″ sophomore center Cory Violette was named WCC/Rawlings Player of the Week for outstanding performances in wins against Santa Clara (14 pts, 7 reb, 3 asst, 5 blk,) and San Diego (25 pts, 15 reb, 2 blk). This is the third such recognition for Violette this season and the sixth time this season that a Gonzaga player has won the award.

RPI Watch/Tourney predictions
The West Coast Conference was the 15th ranked conference in Monday’s RPI ratings, dropping a place from last week’s 14. Team-wise, Gonzaga and Pepperdine lead the way with the number 28 and 46 ratings respectively. Gonzaga enjoyed a two spot jump while the Waves suffered a five-place drop. No other WCC team has a rating better than 161 (San Diego). Portland pulls up the rear at 281.

So, to state the obvious: Unless someone besides the Zags or Pepperdine takes the conference tournament title, there won’t be more than two NCAA tournament bids being handed to the WCC. On the bright side of things, with the Zags highly respected and Pepperdine playing so well all year, these top two are basically locks to make the field of 65. If the Zags win out this season, they’re looking at a possible four seed. Barring a bad loss or losses by Pepperdine, the Waves look like a ten to twelve seed.
Just think though: What happens if the Zags and Pepperdine continue to do their part but one of the other teams in the WCC does sneak in with the unforeseen automatic bid? Does the 15th ranked conference really get 3 teams in the Big Dance? Not in a normal year. But this year, quite possibly.

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