The Saint Mary's Gaels host the struggling San Diego Toreros Thursday evening in a game that some might consider a bit of a trap before a crucial stretch of the schedule. In reality every game is crucial as the Gaels look to run the table, but certain games pique fan interest more than others.
If the Gaels handle their business against San Diego on Thursday, they then enter a four-game stretch that features a trip to Spokane to face conference heavyweight Gonzaga, an always interesting rivalry game against Santa Clara, a home game against the surging Loyola Marymount Lions, and then a significant Bracketbusters Weekend matchup against currently undefeated Murray State.
If the Gaels can continue their winning ways, that four game stretch could put them in a position to secure a fairly high seed if they can win out in the WCC tournament. And yet, none of that means much of anything without a win over San Diego. Given the mid-major status of the WCC, a loss to anybody but Gonzaga and BYU (maybe, at this point) is viewed as a fairly bad loss. It might not be fair, but it is how college basketball operates at times.
The Toreros have exchanged wins and losses over their last seven games and currently sit at 3-6 in WCC play, good for sixth place in the conference. Johnny Dee leads them with 14.5 points per game while Chris Manresa is their primary inside presence. Manresa has five double-doubles and is second on the team with 9.4 points per game.
The 7 p.m. tipoff is untelevised, but there will be a live video stream, featuring SMC play-by-play announcer Mike Bouve, available via subscription service Gaels Live on SMCGaels.com. Live statistics will also be available on the site and frequent Twitter updates will be posted throughout the game (@SMCGaels).