Posted: 11:18 a.m. Saturday, March 9, 2013
By Zach Bell
In the course of three days, Loyola Marymount tripled its West Coast Conference regular season win total. The Lions, who were 1-15 in the regular season, took down Portland on Wednesday, San Francisco on Thursday, and most recently Santa Clara last night. The woeful Lions were the nine seed in the nine team conference and have strung together a run that can only be called unthinkable. If they want to continue their magical run, they'll need to complete the stiff task of taking down the top team in the conference and the country. The Zags, who will be playing their first game as the No. 1 team in the nation, are out to avoid falling victim to the massive upset and continue their quest to be a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
While Portland, San Francisco, and Santa Clara all have shown weaknesses all season long, it is truly remarkable that LMU has been able to take down all three in the span of three days. Max Good has somehow been able to motivate his team in a way that he could not all season long and he may have saved his job in the process. As you'd expect, LMU has been led to these three wins by their star guard Anthony Ireland. Ireland scored 23 points, including the game winning lay-in with seconds remaining against Santa Clara. He scored 16 points in the Lions overtime win against the Dons.
Because LMU has had to play three games in three nights, the one thing you really must consider is fatigue. The top-ranked Zags will be very well rested as they haven't played in a week now. On the flip side, Anthony Ireland played 39 minutes against Portland, 44 minutes in their OT win over San Francisco, and 39 minutes against Santa Clara. While the Lions have plenty of momentum, I have a hard time seeing how they will be able to physically handle the Bulldogs attack tonight. In the end, I just think the WCC POY Kelly Olynyk will have his way with Max Good's club and end the Lions remarkable run and it will likely be over by halftime.
While I did not call the LMU run, I do take some pride that my selection of San Diego over BYU did come to fruition. While the Cougars played the Zags extremely tough a few weeks ago, they have been wildly inconsistent, particularly as they have played down to the opposition. Bill Grier's club was paced by their dynamic backcourt duo as Johnny Dee poured in 25 points while Chris Anderson scored 16 points and added six assists. Next up for the Toreros is a date with the Saint Mary's Gaels. That game will immediately follow the conclusion of the Zags and Lions.