No. 1 Gonzaga (30-2, 16-0) takes on Saint Mary's (27-5, 14-2) Monday at 6:00 p.m. in the West Coast Conference Championship. The game will take place at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and will be televised by ESPN.
The Stats - Neither the Zags or the Gaels looked particularly sharp in their WCC Tournament opener. Gonzaga went 9-for-24 in the first half against Loyola Marymount, hitting just one of its seven three point tries. Meanwhile SMC shot 37.3 percent from the floor, with a 4-for-17 performance from deep. Mark Few's team hit its stride in the final 20 minutes going 11-for-22 and 4-for-7 to run away with the win. As for the Gaels, they needed overtime to finish off the Toreros. With the early tournament jitters hopefully out of the way we should see two of the WCC's most dynamic teams. Both were top-three in conference play when it came to scoring offense, defense, field goal percentage and field goal percentage 'D'. As a result they were the only two squads to average double-digit wins over their WCC opponents. The Bulldogs averaged 80 points in their two wins over Saint Mary's, shooting over 50 percent from the floor in both games. It helps when you can get quick - and in some cases easy - buckets. GU outscored the Gaels a combined 15-0 on the fast break during their regular season meetings.
The Stars - After a quiet 14 points in Spokane Matthew Dellavedova did his part to keep Saint Mary's close (at least for a half) when they met in Moraga. He finished with 22 points, with 18 coming from beyond the arc. In all likelihood this will be his last game against the Gaels' chief WCC rival and a team he has had some memorable performances against. There's probably nothing he'd like more than to win his third WCC Tournament title with another big game against GU. But that will require some help, something he's gotten primarily from Stephen Holt. Holt is SMC's high scorer against the Zags this season, with games of 23 and 17. The junior guard connected on 16 of his 24 attempts in those matchups. As for Gonzaga, to no surprise Kelly Olynyk's 24 points per game paces the Bulldogs against the Gaels. That, of course, includes a 31-point outburst in the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Gaels have allowed GU to shoot a high percentage, and none of Few's players score as efficiently as Olynyk. Meanwhile, Kevin Pangos scored 40 total points against Saint Mary's this season, while Gary Bell Jr. dropped 20 in McKeon Pavilion. Pangos and Olynyk are the only Zags to reach double-figures in both contests. And lets not forget, this is also Elias Harris' final league contest. He finished with 22 points in this game last season, and like Dellavedova would love for a fitting end to his illustrious WCC career.
The Storylines - We are in store for a conference championship bout with national implications played between two bitter rivals. College basketball is a beautiful thing. Gonzaga is hoping to hold on to its No. 1 ranking and do everything it can to bottle up a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. All the while the Gaels appear to be on the right side of the tournament bubble, but this time of year no one wants to leave their postseason destiny in the selection committee's hands. This is Gonzaga and Saint Mary's fifth consecutive meeting in the WCC title game, with GU winning in 2009 and 2011. The current Gaels haven't lost to a team other than Gonzaga since December 23rd. They also haven't failed to win a WCC regular season or tournament crown since 2009. That streak is modest compared to a 14-year run with at least one of the two that SMC snapped last season. Gonzaga got a bit of revenge with its 16-0 regular season run. They'll try to complete the task Monday night.