The Santa Clara Broncos enter the 2011-2012 college basketball season as a bit of a dark horse behind Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary's. As those three schools dominate the press, Santa Clara and San Francisco find themselves considered a notch below in the second tier of WCC teams. In reality, both Santa Clara and San Francisco could surprise any of the top three teams in the conference and create some craziness when the conference tournament gets going.
The West Coast Conference has a solid television deal in place with ESPN that gets its many talented squads on national television a decent amount. The addition of BYU could mean even more national exposure for the conference, particularly with the chance for three teams to get NCAA tournament berths.
The conference will have 21 games showcased on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game of the WCC conference tournament. Santa Clara will make at least seven appearances on the ESPN family of networks in 2011-12, with five of the games coming as part of the WCC's package of games.
Santa Clara will make a non-conference appearance on ESPNU during the 76 Classic in Anaheim. Their opening round game with New Mexico will air on ESPNU. If they win, they face the winner of Oklahoma and Washington State on ESPN2. If they lose, they face the loser of OU-WSU on ESPNU. Depending on wins and losses, they could appear on an ESPN channel as many as three times during the tournament.
Santa Clara's national television schedule includes (all times pacific and subject to change):
Thursday, November 24
New Mexico vs. Santa Clara, 6:00 p.m. (ESPNU - 76 Classic, Anaheim)
Saturday, January 14
Santa Clara at BYU, 5:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Thursday, February 2
Portland at Santa Clara, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Thursday, February 9
Santa Clara at San Francisco, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Thursday, February 16
Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, February 18
BYU at Santa Clara, 4:00 p.m. (ESPNU)