WCC Bracket Watch – March 12th


With the WCC Tournament complete, the work of the teams is done. They have done everything they can to build a case for the postseason, and now they must sit back and await their fate. Gonzaga is the only team assured of their destination after claiming the conference’s automatic bid, but multiple other teams are in contention to appear in a postseason tournament. Even the Bulldogs will have to wait to see their seed and first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

Who will join Gonzaga in the postseason? Will BYU be joining the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament or Saint Mary’s in the NIT? Which other teams will sneak into lower-tier tournaments? Let’s take a look in our final Bracket Watch before Selection Sunday!


Record: 32-2 (17-1)

RPI: 8

Good Wins: SMU, Georgia, St. John’s, BYU (x2)

Bad Losses: None

The loss to BYU to end the regular season has taken a lot of drama out of Selection Sunday for the Bulldogs. Had they won that game and the WCC Tournament, they would have still been in contention for a #1 seed but would have had to wait and see if the committee decided a major conference team with a better strength of schedule was more deserving. Now, they are pretty well locked into a #2 seed with the only question being what region they will head to and what their road to the Final Four will look like.

With the way the Bulldogs have struggled the past month or so, their seeding drop won’t actually make much of a difference. Either way, would have had little trouble in their first game. But they have raised a lot of concerns with their sluggish efforts against a lot of recent opponents, and even their second round opponent will pose a threat on the same level as a good middle of the road WCC team. They did a good job of rebuilding some momentum with their run through Vegas, but their upcoming matchups will have a big effect on whether this year will end with another disappointing exit in March or if it’s the breakthrough run the Zags have been waiting to have for a long time.


Record: 25-9 (13-5)

RPI: 36

Good Wins: Stanford, Gonzaga

Bad Losses: Pepperdine (x2), San Diego

Let the wait begin for the Cougars. They came close, but they could not remove the drama of their NCAA Tournament status as they fell short of capturing the conference’s automatic bid. The good news is that they came into Vegas probably just inside the field, and they didn’t do anything that would damage that status during the WCC Tournament. They reached the finals by avoiding any bad losses, and they stayed close enough to Gonzaga that their upset in Spokane can’t be written off as a fluke.

The only wrinkle is the rest of the conference tournaments. Most other conferences are playing this week and hadn’t even started by the time the final game in Vegas was over. If too many surprise teams steal automatic bids in other conferences, the Cougars will be knocked out by higher ranked teams who now need the at-large slots that the Cougars would have slid into somewhere. But as long as most tournaments are won by favorites, the Cougars should complete their improbable comeback and sneak into the Big Dance. And with they way they have played lately, they could surprise some teams.

Saint Mary’s

Record: 21-9 (13-5)

RPI: 72

Good Wins: BYU

Bad Losses: Northern Arizona, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Portland

The Gaels were already out of the NCAA Tournament field if they didn’t win the WCC Tournament, and they eliminated any chance of that very quickly by falling to Portland in their opening game. They have gone from a legitimate contender for an at-large bid midway through the season to nowhere near the field at this point. They will head to the NIT Tournament, and their seeding probably took a good hit after their recent skid. They are very beatable right now, and they may have already won their final game of the season at this rate.

With the talent on this team anchored by Brad Waldow, it feels like they should have done more. But the strength of schedule damaged their resume a lot. Their narrow win over BYU is their only victory against a team in the top 100 of the RPI, and they have way too many bad losses. Perhaps Waldow facing his last chance at postseason success will motivate them, but there’s no way to know what the Gaels will do considering their recent struggles. They are lucky that they had enough early success to even still be a strong NIT seed at this point. Against smaller teams Waldow can lead to some wins, but that will come down to the matchups.


Record: 18-13 (10-8)

RPI: 133

Good Wins: BYU (x2), Saint Mary’s

Bad Losses: IUPUI, San Francisco (x2), Santa Clara, San Diego, Portland

The Waves got a nice win over San Diego in Vegas, but they never came close to pulling off the big upset to get past Gonzaga in the semifinals. With an RPI that is well outside the top 100, the Waves will be settling for a third-tier tournament despite all their success. Unlike the Gaels and Cougars, the Waves had no reputation of recent success coming into the season. So the Waves had a very weak schedule, and they failed to get a good non-conference win. Their strength of schedule was just too weak to survive their bad losses, and their signature wins have ended up looking less than stellar as the Cougars raised questions about themselves and the Gaels struggled.

The likely landing point for the Waves is the CBI Tournament, a slight accomplishment as it’s an upgrade from the CIT Tournament that most mid-tier WCC teams end up in. The CBI will include some power conference teams, while the CIT is exclusive to mid-major schools. Still, it feels like a disappointment after the strong season the Waves had. With their elite perimeter defense and strength inside, it feels like the Waves could have held their own in the NIT. But at least with no seniors on the roster, the CBI will be a great opportunity to face some quality opponents and build postseason experience in preparation for a big follow-up season next year.


Record: 17-15 (7-11)

RPI: 145

Good Wins: Murray State, Saint Mary’s

Bad Losses: San Francisco, Loyola Marymount, Pacific, San Diego

It’s been a pretty up and down season for the Pilots. They had a good non-conference run, although it lacked any signature wins. Murray State had a great season, but their RPI is still outside the top 50 and they will likely not make the NCAA Tournament. They Pilots had their struggles in conference play, but the win over Saint Mary’s in Vegas was a nice boost. They have seen their RPI steadily rise for a decent stretch which has put them in the postseason conversation.

The CIT Tournament is their likely landing point, and their Athletic Director has already confirmed that’s where they will be heading. You can look at this one of two ways. On the one hand, they had a great start to the season that should have led to more. On the other hand, they are lucky that they managed to recover enough from their struggles to even be in the postseason conversation. Their early success is a testament to their ability considering they are still two games over .500 despite all their struggles. With the right matchups, they could make a very deep CIT run. Both Pacific and San Diego did very well in the CIT last year, and the Pilots are right on the same level as those two squads if not better.

San Diego

Record: 15-16 (8-10)

RPI: 153

Good Wins: BYU

Bad Losses: Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine (x2), Pacific, Loyola Marymount

The Toreros were buried midway through conference play as they were shooting terrible and showing a serious lack of depth. But their late run has them in tournament consideration. The CIT Tournament is a very possible landing point, but they barely got there. The tournament requires teams to finish the regular season with a .500 or better record, and for the second year in a row the Toreros just barely qualified. Last year they finished the regular season at 16-15 and ended up going on the deepest postseason run in school history by reaching the quarterfinals of the CIT. This year, they finished the regular season at 15-15 before dropping under .500 after losing to Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament.

If they hadn’t made a CIT run last year, they may not have gotten any consideration this year considering they were just .500 and don’t have any signature wins outside of one BYU upset. Last year they looked much better with a signature win over Gonzaga late in the season. But their reputation with the CIT after last year just might be enough to get another invite. If they make it, the competition can be weak enough that they could make another run. A Portland-San Diego matchup at some point would be fun after the Toreros were knocked out by WCC opponent Pacific in last year’s tournament.