It could and should happen again this year.
Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.
The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.
The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.
|Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)|
The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.
So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.
Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game: Monday, March 5, ESPN2.
- Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
- Elias Harris, Gonzaga
- Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
- Brandon Davies, BYU
- Noah Hartsock, BYU
Conference RPI: 11
KenPom.com rating: 11
Sagarin rating: 11
NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga
NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU
Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:
- Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
- Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
- Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
- Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
- Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
- Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
- San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
- San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
- Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.
By Matt Norlander