Wednesday, March 2, 2016

West Coast conference tournament preview

This is part 10 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
St Mary's 15-3 (25-4)
Gonzaga 15-3 (23-7)
BYU 13-5 (22-9)
Pepperdine 10-8 (17-12)
San Francisco 8-10 (15-14)
Santa Clara 7-11 (11-19)
Portland 6-12 (12-19)
Loyola Marymount 6-12 (13-16)
Pacific 6-12 (8-20)
San Diego 4-14 (9-20)

Tournament format:
Standard format from Friday March 4 to Tuesday March 8, with everyone taking Sunday off because BYU ruins everything.  Pacific isn't eligible, so only 9 teams here.  Vegas, baby!

The matchups:
1) St Mary's vs. 8/9) Loyola Marymount/San Diego
4) Pepperdine vs. 5) San Francisco
2) Gonzaga vs. 7) Portland
3) BYU vs. 6) Santa Clara

The stakes:
Everyone knows the narrative by now with the conference.  Buried at 14th in the CRPI, both St Mary's and Gonzaga have marginal resumes.  Gonzaga scheduled up and did beat N-UConn and N-Washington.  So what's the issue?  There is no depth to the resume.  @BYU is the third best win, then, what, Pepperdine?  Montana?  Their cancelled game against Pitt now looms extremely large.  Losing 2x to St mary's, losing to UCLA and Arizona and A&M and BYU means they gave themselves chances and mostly failed.  I do believe, however, if you slapped the name "Pepperdine" on them, they'd be a chic at-large pick.  This will likely go down to the wire.

St Mary's will too.  They played exactly one road game in the non-con, lost to Cal.  Played and won every other game at home.  Not even a neutral site game.  The selection committee loves to spite these resumes.  Now, at least Irvine and Stanford were home scalps, and they swept Gonzaga.  Their SoS is marginal, but they did beat most of the best teams, as evidenced by 6-2 vs. Top 100 RPI.  On the other hand, 2 losses outside the top 100.  So if you compare this team to other mid-majors, I mean...Monmouth played a gaggle of road games.  UALR and Chattanooga have comparable records with more home games.  Now, St Mary's has the better collection of wins, perhaps, but how do you balance quality wins and road willingness?  It's delicate.  I'm not comfortable making a declaration either way yet.

Bottom line:  one (or both) of Gonzaga and St Mary's will be a Selection Sunday storyline.  BYU is likely beyond reach of the bubble, no signature win to mask just a couple too many losses.  To the NIT they go.  Pepperdine is a deserving postseason team, and San Francisco might get there too, depending on the whimsy of the various selection committees.

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