Note: From here on out, I will make a weekly post about where things stand in between the teams of the West Coast Conference and the NCAA Tournament.
In Good Shape:
Gonzaga: With no real marquee wins, and two true road game losses as well as a neutral-court loss over a good Dayton team, the Zags lack of good wins are cancelled out by a lack of good losses. However, a loss to a non-BYU, non-SMC combined with a loss at Memphis could hurt Gonzaga should they not win in Las Vegas. This past week: wins at Pepperdine and LMU.
Survive and Advance:
BYU: The Cougars loaded up with a difficult conference schedule and, as a result, have a lot of losses on their resume. Two losses to LMU and Pepperdine to start conference play hasn’t helped either. However, they have seemed to recover and have established themselves as a Top-3 WCC team. Their best win is over Texas (46) on neutral court. Wins against Stanford (57) and Utah State (95) help. Four losses against Top-50 RPI teams keep the Cougars RPI high (37) and make sure their seven losses overall aren’t as bad as they sound. This past week: wins at San Francisco and Santa Clara.
SMC: Like Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s has 8 wins over Top-150 teams. (BYU has 7). However, Saint Mary’s does have two losses against Sub 150 teams (Santa Clara and George Mason). With some good wins early on, and a marquee win at Boise State, the Gaels were rolling towards March. However, 5 losses in 8 games has put them right back on the bubble. But with Randy Bennett back and coming off a dominant performance against San Francisco, the Gaels still have a run in them. With three home games remaining before a tough trip to San Diego and BYU, the Gaels could be back and rolling by the time they land in Provo. This past week: win at home against Pacific.
Gonzaga: RPI – 25. Best win – Saint Mary’s (56). Lunardi’s S-Curve: 23. Teamrankings projections: 25-6, 5 seed (20th on S-Curve).
BYU: RPI – 40. Best win – Texas (37). Lunardi’s S-Curve: 69th (which means they are on his first four out). Teamrankings projections: 21-10, 12 seed (46th on the S-Curve).
SMC: RPI – 56. Best win – North Dakota State (49) or at Boise State (50). Lunardi’s S-Curve: 72. Teamrankings projections: 22-9, 13 seed (53 on the S-Curve).
Teams on the bubble alongside Saint Mary’s and BYU:
Side note: while I love the optimism of Teamrankings, I honestly can’t see BYU and SMC getting in with 10 and 9 losses respectively. That means three losses from here on out by BYU, 4 for Saint Mary’s.I think that that is two more losses than each team can afford.
BYU must take care of business at home and get a win at Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga for them to have a realistic chance (while not dropping any more games). Saint Mary’s needs to win all remaining home games and all road games except at BYU. Assuming Gonzaga loses only to BYU and Saint Mary’s, the WCC regular season title could be shared by the Zags and the Gaels with a conference record of 15-3 and the conference could get three teams into the Big Dance. However, while there is clear separation of the Top-3 from the rest of the conference, there remains great parity and it is not a given that Gonzaga, BYU, SMC will beat everyone who is not in the Top-3.