Is the WCC a one-bid conference this season?
Saint Mary’s was the WCC’s last hope.
The Gaels entered the Diamond Head Classic undefeated with a win at Boise State on their resume. That’s not exactly a season-changing win, but it’s good enough that it would have gotten Randy Bennett’s club into the NCAA tournament conversation had they taken care of business in Hawaii.
Saint Mary’s has already lost their first two games out on the islands, losing to both South Carolina and Hawaii, neither of which can be looked at as a quality loss. Making matters worse is that instead of potentially getting a chance to play Iowa State in the title game, the Gaels will be taking on George Mason. Again, that’s not the kind of game that will boost a team’s resume.
That bad news for Saint Mary’s, but it’s really bad news for the WCC as a whole.
Because neither Gonzaga nor BYU did enough damage in the non-conference.
Gonzaga is in the same boat as Saint Mary’s. They lost in the first round of the Maui Invitational to Dayton, slotting them in the loser’s bracket. Instead of getting a chance to beat the likes of Baylor, Cal and Syracuse, the Zags took on Chaminade and Arkansas. Throw in a loss at Kansas State, and all of a sudden Gonzaga will likely need to win at Memphis if they want any chance at earning an at-large bid.
BYU at least has played a strong schedule. They have wins over Weber State, Texas, Utah State and at Stanford, all of whom could feasibly wind up in the NIT. The losses to the likes of Wichita State, Oregon, Iowa State, UMass and Utah hurt. Even going just 1-4 in that stretch would have been incredibly beneficial.
That’s not to say these three teams aren’t good enough to win a game or two in the tournament. The issue is that there may not be enough meat on their resume to get them picked over some other bubble teams simply because there aren’t many quality wins to be had in WCC play.