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West Coast Conference action tips this afternoon as the Portland Pilots visit Santa Clara.
Following a 13-2 non-conference start, competitive expectations rose and fell as Santa Clara stands 18-12 (5-10 WCC). The Broncos have lost six-straight to enter today’s season finale looking for momentum before conference play tips. Meanwhile, bottom-rung WCC fodder Portland’s 13-game winless run gives host Santa Clara hope as each group readies for March action.
The Broncos’ last win came 85-61 from Portland’s home floor Feb. 1. Highlighting his team’s rare win that day, Keshawn Justice added 17 points to lead a balanced Santa Clara offering.
Portland seems upset bid to end season on high noteWith mounted losses and damaged morale, former NBA standout Terry Porter’s group took mild steps forward this year, but still stare up from an imposing conference hole. As another offseason approaches, it will be interesting to see what direction the Pilots take as Terry Porter’s coaching lineage extends to Gregg Popovich: will that association be enough to rescue Porter’s job after four year’s buried under frequent defeats?
Its a final from the Hilltop. Diabate and Walker finish with 17 points each, while Fahrensohn added 11. Regular season finale is Saturday at Santa Clara at 1 PM. #WeArePortland pic.twitter.com/NfINjxzFWp— Portland Men's Basketball (@PilotHoops) February 28, 2020
Overall, the Pilots average 66.5 ppg and allow 72 -each number rates among the nation’s lower end. As Portland’s struggles are well documented, today’s contest marks a final chance for senior, and leading scorer Isaiah White 12.2, to gain regular season victory. Though, on the road vs. a team which downed them by 24 points to start the month, victory isn’t likely today for the Pilots.
Portland is 2-8 away.
Broncos aim for sweep of Portland to gain WCC Tournament momentumOnce perched among WCC favorites, and on the national radar for greater March considerations, Santa Clara has experienced its share of ineffective play recently. Luckily, however, a core Broncos group which retains eligibility, and has increased its win total over the past three seasons, has one more run together next year. That element may lend a quick turnaround in conference tournament play provided Santa Clara handles business this afternoon against Portland.
Overall, the Broncos average 75.9 ppg and allow 71.7. Veteran sideline leader Herb Sendek bought another season with his maturing group’s impressive early start, but next season may decide Sendek’s fate at SCU. While a win today is expected, the favored Bronco’s are 15-5 from home.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I’ll take the obvious favorite Santa Clara to end its up-and-down season on a mild high note today vs. wayward Portland. The Broncos will repeat, and likely further their dominance today from home while covering the spread opposite Terry Porter’s bunch. Look for another large performance this afternoon from leading Santa Clara scorer Josep Vrankic 12.4 and Trey Wertz 12.0. Behind balanced scoring, take Santa Clara to win today’s WCC season-finale.
Prediction: Santa Clara
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll take the Under here as Portland isn’t likely to generate enough offense to push Over the total. Also, given Santa Clara’s recent setbacks, another Broncos offensive outburst remains unpredictable at best. The best bet today is to take the Under when WCC rivals Portland and Santa Clara face off. Take the Under.