Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
9 San Francisco def. 8 San Diego
7 Santa Clara def. 10 Portland
9 San Francisco def. 5 Loyola Marymount
6 Pacific def. 7 Santa Clara
4 Saint Mary’s def. 9 San Francisco
3 Pepperdine def. 6 Pacific
1 Gonzaga def. 4 Saint Mary’s
2 BYU def. 3 Pepperdine
1 Gonzaga def. 2 BYU
Bad news for the top half of the bracket: Gonzaga has made the WCC Tournament finals every year since 1998. Bad news for the bottom half of the bracket: Gonzaga is the consensus best team in basketball with an undefeated record. Surely the Bulldogs will run through this conference tournament like they ran through the regular season. Gonzaga won their 15 conference games by an average margin of almost 25 points. The Zags make more than 55% of their shots from the floor and allow only 41%. Bank on another Gonzaga WCC title in dominant fashion.
The Tigers don’t profile as a team to make waves. However, they get a great start in being on the BYU half of the bracket. Additionally, Pacific has had close games against top conference teams this season. They led Gonzaga at halftime in one of their matchups and went to double overtime with BYU in another one. They split their series with Loyola Marymount and ended the season winning three of their last four games. In a lopsided conference with a tough tournament format, the Tigers are the closest thing to a sleeper as it gets.
Matchup to Watch
Saint Mary’s vs San Francisco
Gonzaga should win this tournament and is a lock for March Madness. BYU is virtually locked into the NCAA Tournament as well. The WCC’s only shot at another at-large look are the Saint Mary’s Gaels. They’ll need help in the form of other bubble teams losing but making the conference semifinals may be enough to hang around the conversation. The Dons, on the other hand, started hot with a win over Virginia but went 4-9 in conference play to merit a Thursday game. When these teams first met, The Gaels led almost the entire game while staving off a couple San Francisco rallies. Even though the winner probably gets bounced by Gonzaga, this game should be a close one.
Featured Image courtesy of gozags.com