Two programs have dominated the West Coast Conference the past 11 years. Gonzaga has won 11 WCC regular season titles and eight WCC tournament titles. St. Mary’s has finished in second place six times, and has one WCC regular season title and one WCC tournament title. Those numbers are impressive and speak volumes about the quality of coaches and student athletes in both of those programs.

Equally impressive is the “new guy” in the WCC.

BYU, during that same 11-year span, won six Mountain West Conference regular season titles and one MWC tournament title.

If two's company and three's a crowd, then things just got really crowded at the top of the WCC!

Speaking of the top of the WCC, the most recent overall game stats show BYU, Gonzaga and SMC ranked in the top three in scoring offense, scoring margin, FG%, rebounding margin and asst./TO ratio. Adding to that dominance is that they are also in the top four in scoring defense, blocked shots, assists and three point FG made.

The national media, NCAA coaches and expert analysts have also weighed in on the top-heavy WCC. Early evaluations and rankings suggest that the WCC could very well become a three-bid conference:

- AP Poll: Gonzaga #25, SMC #37, BYU NR

- Coaches Poll (ESPN/USA Today): Gonzaga #26, SMC #27, BYU NR

- Ken Pomeroy Rankings (most respected stat service in US): SMC #15, BYU #18, Gonzaga #23

- RPI (average of three national services): Gonzaga #7, SMC #25, BYU #62, SCU #156, LMU #178, Portland #195, USF #204, Pepperdine #230, USD #282

- RPI (strength of conference/mid majors): MWC #4, (strong as ever, even with BYU’s departure), MVC #7, A-10 #8, WCC #10, Conf. USA #11, WAC #16

By all accounts, the 2012 WCC champion or co-champion will be Gonzaga, SMC or BYU.

Winning all of your home games and splitting on the road will often times be enough to win a championship. I don’t see that formula working with the WCC this year. There is too much disparity between the top three teams and the bottom six.

Winning on the road is never easy. Winning at USF, SCU and LMU this year will be a challenging task! In the end, I believe that this year’s champion will be the team, or teams, who not only win on the road, but more specifically, win at USF, LMU and Santa Clara.

Rankings and statistics are great indicators of a team’s performance over an extended period of time. Sometimes however, statistics don’t tell the whole story. Often its diving on the floor for a loose ball, taking a charge, keeping a rebound alive, deflecting a pass or just giving a great effort that makes all the difference.

None of the above will ever show up in a "box score". But in the end, it’s those little things that win championships!

The beauty of college basketball is that on any given night, anything can happen! We love this game because of that uncertainty. Upsets take place throughout the preseason, during conference play and into the NCAA tournament.

There is a reason they call it March Madness!

This March there will be those who will consider it an upset, but to this coach, I see no madness at all in the WCC getting not just two but three teams into the NCAA tournament!

Happy New Year!

Coach Cleve

FYI: I will be joining Greg Wrubel this Thursday, Jan 5, and doing color for the BYU @ LMU Game on KSL 1160 SLC. Game time is 8pm MT. It will be my first radio broadcast and it should be fun!

On Saturday, January 7, I will join the Gold’s Gym Express Halftime and Post Game Shows for the USF/BYU game on BYUtv. Game time is 6pm ET/4pm MT, and you can catch all the action on BYUtv!