7 Santa Clara vs. 2 BYU (9:00 MST; ESPN2)
Regular season meetings: The Cougars swept Santa Clara in the regular season, winning both games by an average of 28 points.
Momentum factor: The Broncos made short work of Loyola Marymount in their Friday play-in game, beating the Lions 85-54 to earn a matchup with the Cougars. BYU comes in a week removed from upsetting No. 3 Gonzaga in Spokane, easily the highest point of its season so far.
What a win means: The winner advances to the tournament semifinals to play Portland, who upset third-seeded Saint Mary’s 69-52 earlier Saturday.
Players to watch: Santa Clara guards Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge each scored 19 points in their torching of LMU yesterday. BYU’s Chase Fischer was key in sparking the Cougars to both of their regular season blowouts. Fischer averaged 16 points over those two games.
Collinsworth returns to the scene of the crime: Kyle Collinsworth makes his first appearance on the Orleans Arena court since tearing his ACL in last year’s WCC Championship Game.
BYU assistant coach Mark Pope’s take on the matchup: “(Santa Clara is) playing really well right now; they’ve won three out of four. Inserting (guard Jarvis) Pugh into their starting lineup has really changed the feel of their team; he’s doing a great job. He brings them unbelievable energy, and he’s a really versatile player. He complements their perimeter guys so well. You look at Johnson, Brownridge and Clark, and that’s a high-powered offensive group. They’re playing really well right now.”
More from Coach Pope: “We beat them twice, and that makes us nervous, because it’s hard to beat a team three times. We’ve had some good fortune playing them the first two times this season. It’s going to be a great battle, two high-powered offensive teams going at it. It’s going to be fun.”