The WCC basketball race could be intriguing; BYU moves to 31st place in the NET ranking

PROVO – If the opening week of the West Coast Conference game is any indication, this league race could be intriguing as the conference could be deeper than ever this season.

Gonzaga (16-1, 2-0) maintained his No. 1 national rankings on Monday but had to rally to beat Portland on the road and Pepperdine at home this weekend. Saint Mary’s (14-3, 1-1), meanwhile, fell in quadruple overtime at Pacific (14-4, 2-0).

BYU (12-4, 1-0) shone defensively in a 63-38 victory over Loyola Marymount in his first game at the WCC at the Marriott Center.

Cougars and Gaels meet Thursday (9 p.m. MST, ESPN2) in Moraga, California. BYU has a 1-7 record against Saint Mary’s at the University Credit Union Pavilion (formerly McKeon Pavilion) since joining the WCC in 2012.

Gonzaga visits San Diego on Thursday and Santa Clara travels to San Francisco.

Here is where the WCC teams are ranked in the latest NCAA NET rankings – Gonzaga (# 7), BYU (# 31), Saint Mary’s (# 39), Santa Clara (# 77), San Francisco (# 122), Pacific (no. 126), Pepperdine (no. 164), San Diego (no. 204), Loyola Marymount (no. 228) and Portland (no. 231).

In its non-conference schedule, BYU lost to teams ranked # 1 (San Diego State) and # 2 (Kansas) in the NET.

In most recent projections of the NCAA tournament by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi – published last week – Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed, Saint Mary’s is a No. 7 seed and BYU is a No. 1 seed 11.

The Bracket Matrix, which follows the projections of the NCAA tournament, has the Cougars in 52 of the 54 supports.