Sept. 30, 2008
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Two West Coast Conference men's basketball teams are ranked in the 2008-09 Blue Ribbon preseason top 25 poll. Saint Mary's College, listed at No. 19, and Gonzaga University, checking in at No. 21, earned preseason rankings by the established preseason magazine.
The WCC is one of just six conferences in the country to have multiple teams in Blue Ribbon's preseason top 25, joining the Big East (7), Big 12 (4), Pac-10 (4), ACC (3), and Big Ten (3). The SEC and C-USA round out the preseason poll with one team each.
"When I look at the West Coast Conference and see the quality of basketball that's being played there, it makes me long for the days when I was a college basketball beat writer in the newspaper business," said Chris Dortch, Editor at Blue Ribbon.
"What a fun league to watch. At Blue Ribbon, we try to fairly evaluate every team in the country when we produce our preseason rankings, and not just consider the so-called power conferences. And when we evaluated Gonzaga and Saint Mary's, they more than held their own with the best schools in the country,"
-- Chris Dortch, Editor at Blue Ribbon
The Blue Ribbon Magazine is the latest preseason prognosticator to list multiple WCC teams in its preseason rankings, joining Hall of Fame inductee Dick Vitale, who listed three WCC teams in his preseason top 40. Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, and San Diego are listed among the best in the nation by the Basketball Hall of Fame icon.
In addition, San Diego is ranked No. 26 and Saint Mary's No. 33 in the Rivals.com's Preseason Top 65 Countdown. Rivals.com has yet to release its top 20, but Gonzaga, listed in several preseason top 10 polls, is expected to be listed among the top teams in the nation, giving the WCC three teams in the top 35.
The three WCC schools welcome back a wealth of talent as they return a combined 12-of-15 starters, including two All-WCC first team members each. Highlighting the list of returners, is Gonzaga's Jeremy Pargo, the reigning WCC Player of the Year, Saint Mary's Patrick Mills, who starred for the Australian Olympic team this summer, and San Diego's Brandon Johnson, the 2008 WCC Tournament MVP.
All three teams are poised for another run at the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09. Gonzaga returns 77.2 percent of its scoring and 72 percent of its rebounding. Saint Mary's welcomes back 80.1 percent of its scoring from last season and 89.0 percent of its rebounding. Meanwhile, the Toreros bring back a whopping 96.2 percent of its scoring and an identical 96.2 percent of its rebounding.
With three teams advancing to last year's NCAA Tournament, the WCC had the fifth highest percentage (38%) of teams selected to the Big Dance in the country. Only the Pac-10 (60%), Big 12 (50%), Big East (50%), and the SEC (50%) had a higher percentage. The WCC had a higher percentage of its teams selected to the NCAA Tournament than the ACC (33%), the Atlantic-10 (21%), the Big Ten (36%), Conference-USA (8%), the Missouri Valley (10%), and the Mountain West (22%).
Big East - 7
Big 12 - 4
ACC - 3
Big Ten - 3
WCC - 2
C-USA - 1
SEC - 1