Futures betting odds courtesy of Bovada
Odds to win NCAA: 25/1
Gonzaga was the toast of the West Coast Conference again last season, going 29-6 with a 15-3 conference record, but eventually being bounced in the third round of the NCAA tournament by the Arizona Wildcats.
The Bulldogs have been able to bring in solid recruiting classes over recent years, and despite losing starters Sam Dower Jr. and David Stockton, the Zags won’t fall off this season.
Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr are both back for a senior season, and Pangos shined last year. He averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while Bell contributed 11.4 points and shot 43 percent from three-point range.
Pangos has started the last 103 games for Gonzaga and was a starter on the 2012-13 team that ranked No. 1 in the nation before the NCAA tournament. His experience along with another returning starter in 7’1” center Przemek Karnowski of Poland. He finished third in the league in blocked shots while averaging 10 and seven as a freshman, and shooting 59 percent from the floor.
Transfers Kyle Wiltjer and Byron Wesley will be featured on the team this year, and Wiltjer won sixth man of the year at Kentucky averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 rebounds. Wesley averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds before leaving USC.
The Zags will also have the son of legend Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas, a 6’10” center who has come to play NCAA basketball instead of play professionally overseas.
BYU has likely the best player in the WCC in Tyler Haws and a lot more depth this season than a year ago. Last season, BYU finished 23-12 with a 13-5 conference record, but lost to Oregon in the second round of the NCAA tournament, by 19 points. Haws averaged 21.7 and 23.2 points per game over the last two seasons, and is on pace to become the top scorer in BYU history. He shoots very well in the mid-range and hit 40 percent from three-point range, as well as 88 percent from the free throw line. The Cougars did lose Eric Mika to his missionary commitment, and Matt Carlino who transferred to Marquette.
Kyle Collinsworth is a great all-around talent who led the team in rebounding last year with 8.1 boards per game, while also dishing out a team high 4.6 assists per game. The 6’6” junior averaged 14 points per game and also made a big defensive contribution, forcing turnovers and averaging 1.7 steals per contest.
Haws and Collinsworth headline this team which could be a surprising one by March. The only reason the Cougars lost so badly to Oregon was because Collinsworth was on the shelf after sustaining an injury in the conference championship game. If 300/1 odds could ever be considered a value, ever a long shot bet worth making, it would be on this Cougars team.
Saint Mary’s finished 23-12 last season with an 11-7 conference record. The Gaels were bounced in the second round of the NIT by Minnesota. The Gaels lost three starters, including leading scorer Stephen Holt. Brad Wadlow returns and was second on the team in scoring and 10th in the league (15.1 points per game) and he was sixth in rebounding (7.5 per game). Kerry Carter averaged 9.3 points per game and was 5th in threes made. Saint Mary’s is unlikely to be able to hang with either BYU or Gonzaga, but should have no problem finishing a distant third this season.
The San Francisco Dons finished 21-12 last season with a 13-5 WCC record. The Dons lost to LSU 71-63 in the opening round of the NIT. Last year, the 13-5 record tied BYU for second place, and while San Francisco looked good against just about all of the league, it was unable to overcome Gonzaga and BYU, losing to BYU in the regular season and the WCC tournament.
Three starters return this season, but the Dons lose Cole Dickerson to graduation and Avry Holmes as a transfer. Kruize Pinkins is the guy to watch on this team, after having deferred to Dickerson in the past. He’s 6’7” 230 and averaged 12 points and six boards last year. Junior center Mark Tollefson averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but will need to board harder given his 6’9” body. 6’5” senior guard Matt Glover is a solid rotational player who posted eight boards, five boards and 3.3 assists a year ago.
San Diego finished 18-17 last season with a 7-11 conference record. The Toreros lost 75-60 to Pacific in the College Insider Tournament. Coach Bill Grier was awarded with a contract extension for helping San Diego improve its program after finishing just 6-24 three seasons ago. The top two scorers are back this season, Johnny Dee and Duda Sandze.
Dee has scored 1,520 points thus far in his NCAA career and will likely pass Brandon Johnson for the all-time scoring record at San Diego. Christopher Anderson will be a valuable cog this year, too, as he led the league in assists last year with 6.2 per game while also scoring about 10 points per contest.
Jito Kok, a 6’9” junior forward from the Netherlands, must rebound much better after averaging just 4.5 per game a season ago. He’s the only legitimate big body that San Diego has.