Portland (7-23) vs. San Francisco (18-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 1st, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (9,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: BYUtv, ESPNFC. Home Record: Portland 3-9, USF 12-4. Away Record: Portland 1-13, USF 5-6. Neutral Record: Portland 1-0, USF 1-2. Conference Record: Portland 3-12, USF 8-8. Series Record: San Francisco leads, 49-25.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-seeded Portland Pilots advanced past the lone opening- round game of the West Coast Conference Tournament and will now play the fifth-seeded San Francisco Dons in second-round action tonight at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Portland finished with a poor 3-13 record in the WCC, which included six straight losses to close out the regular season. The Pilots were matched up against last-place Santa Clara in their opening-round matchup on Wednesday, which they won 74-70. They are now 7-23 on the season overall, though three of those wins came against Santa Clara, which finished winless (0-16) in the conference.
San Francisco started this season red-hot, coming out of the gates by winning nine of its first 12 games, but it promptly followed that up by losing five of its next six. Despite the ups and downs, USF has had an impressive campaign overall, going 18-12 all told and 8-8 in conference, finishing a game ahead of San Diego for fifth place. The 18 wins was the club's most since the 1999-2000 season when it won 19 games. The Dons have only gone 1-7 against the teams ranked ahead of it in the WCC, though their most impressive win came against Gonzaga just a few weeks ago. They only have one WCC Tournament crown, that coming back in 1998.
San Francisco owns a comfortable 49-25 advantage over Portland in the all-time series, which includes a series sweep of the Pilots in each of the past two seasons.
Ryan Nicholas had a career-night for Portland in the opening-round game against Santa Clara, shooting 10-of-11 from the field for a career-high 24 points, while also grabbing 11 rebounds. The entire team was on fire, hitting 56.8 percent of its total shots, which included an 8-of-16 showing from three- point range, all while holding the Broncos to just 37.5 percent shooting overall. The game was close at the end however, due to Portland's turnover troubles, as it lost the giveaway battle 15-1, only amplifying its league- worst turnover margin (-4.00). On the season, the Pilots haven't been strong at either end of the court, ranking next-to-last in scoring offense (65.1 ppg) and dead-last in scoring defense (75.7 ppg). Nicholas is the team's leading scorer at 11.6 ppg, and he also ranks fourth in the WCC in rebounding at 7.6 rpg.
In a very competitive conference, San Francisco has the second-most potent offense, netting 75.2 ppg on 46.8 percent overall shooting, though in its latest game against Saint Mary's-CA it had one of its worst scoring outputs of the season, knocking down just 37.3 percent from the floor for 60 points. The Dons have four players averaging in double figures, led by Angelo Caloiaro (14.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Perris Blackwell (12.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg). Caloiaro was one of the five players in the conference named to the All-WCC First Team, while Blackwell was named to the Honorable Mention squad for the second straight year. Rashad Green (11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2 apg) also earned an Honorable Mention nod, while Michael Williams adds to the balanced offensive attack by scoring 10.8 ppg. USF is also one of the best teams in the league in terms of taking care of the basketball, sporting a turnover margin of +2.57.
Portland will be riding some momentum into tonight's game, but it will also be battling fatigue after playing less than 24 hours ago. San Francisco will be well-rested and has clearly proven to be the more capable team, making this a relatively easy win for the Dons.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Francisco 79, Portland 66
03/01 10:33:45 ET