Gonzaga basketball: Why the WCC is a one-bid league

Gonzaga (Photo credit: David Becker, Getty Images)

Gonzaga (Photo credit: David Becker, Getty Images)

The West Coast Conference regular season has reached the mid way point, and thus far it has been a rocky season for most WCC teams. Gonzaga currently is atop the standings at 9-1 after a shaky win on the road at Santa Clara. While the league is overall better this season, the big teams BYU and St Mary’s, who were both, suppose to make a run at the WCC title have faltered. BYU already has four conference losses while St. Mary’s has three.With the bigger teams struggling and Gonzaga having a weaker than usual resume, there is serious reason to believe that the WCC is a one-bid league

Last Season the WCC was able to get two teams into the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga was a number 1 seed and St Mary’s was an 11 seed.

However this season is different. With BYU and St Mary’s both struggling, it looks like the WCC will be a one-bid league this season.

Currently the WCC has 4 teams in the RPI top 100.

Gonzaga has the highest RPI of the league at 31, while BYU’s RPI is 48, St. Mary’s RPI is 54 and San Francisco’s RPI is 88.

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I have never been a huge fan of the RPI because of the various variables that go into it.

The RPI measures each team’s strength of schedule, wins and losses as well as the team’s winning percentage, opponents winning percentage and opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.

It is a formula that when a team has a low number of losses even if their strength of schedule is weak, they can still have a very high RPI.

A good example this season is Wichita State. Currently, Wichita is undefeated at 22 and 0, with an RPI of 8 and strength of schedule of 85. Needless to say, because they are undefeated, their RPI is high even though their strength of schedule is very weak.

So how does this relate to the WCC teams looking for an at-large bid?

The three teams as I have mentioned that have even the slightest chance of getting an at-large bid are Gonzaga, BYU and St. Mary’s.

Let’s take a look at each team’s resume thus far.

Team            Record     Ranking       RPI       SOS       Wins in RPI Top 50       Losses outside RPI 100

Gonzaga      19-3           24               31         103                   BYU                                    N/A

BYU             14-9          N/A              48          16            Stanford, Texas            Utah, LMU, Pepperdine

St. Mary’s    16-6          N/A              54          67        North Dakota State      South Carolina, Hawaii, USD

Gonzaga currently is ranked 24th, has the highest RPI in the conference but the lowest strength of schedule at 103 and only 1 win in the RPI top 50. However they also have the best record out of these three teams at 19 and 3 and 0 losses to teams outside of the RPI 100.

BYU is unranked with an RPI in the top 50, but has the highest strength of schedule at 16 and two wins in the RPI top 50. Even though their strength of schedule is significantly higher than the other two teams, with 9 losses, 3 to teams outside the RPI 100, BYU’s tournament chances take a hit.

St. Mary’s is also unranked, with an RPI of 54, strength of schedule of 67 and one win in the RPI top 50. At 16-6 their record is not bad, but 6 losses, 3 to teams outside of the RPI 100, hurts their chances as well.

Gonzaga still has one more game against BYU and St Mary’s while BYU and St Mary’s have two head to head matches left against each other.

Each of these teams will have a struggle to get an at-large bid. Gonzaga has the best chance with the lowest RPI, and a big non-conference game coming up against Memphis. BYU and St Mary’s will most likely have to win the WCC tournament to get in. Both teams have too many losses and not enough signature wins worthy of getting an at-large bid.

The only way that the WCC is able to get two teams into the tournament this season is if Gonzaga wins out the rest of the season and losses in the WCC championship game. Even then, Gonzaga may be on the outside looking in due to their weak schedule and lack of quality wins.

There is a lot of time of games left in the WCC regular season and each of these teams will be battling it out to not only improve their rankings, but fighting for the most likely one spot in the NCAA tournament.

This year’s WCC tournament will be very interesting, as each team will want the luxury of the automatic bid to the tournament. If there is ever a year for Gonzaga to miss the tournament for the first time in over 15 years, this season is that. Luckily, it is in their hands to win out the WCC and secure the automatic bid.

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