The WCC announced some pretty big scheduling changes, in theory, to keep Gonzaga from bolting to the Mountain West Conference. One of those changes what a mix in how the scheduling happens.
The conference slate was reduced to 16 games, where: “Every institution will play seven WCC institutions twice, while playing one member at home and another away – based on approved criteria.”
The approved criteria, off the top of the head, looks to be a benefit for the top team with regard to avoiding the lowest WCC teams. Gonzaga, last season’s regular season champions, only play one game against Portland and Pepperdine, the two worst WCC teams last season.
Saint Mary’s, which finished second in conference play, only has one game against Portland and LMU, the No. 9 and No. 8 finishers, respectively. BYU, which finished third, gets one game against Santa Clara and Pepperdine, the No. 6 and No. 10 finishers, respectively.
So for now, the Zags seemingly don’t have two games against bottom feeder teams in the conference, which will be only good things for the RPI and overall tournament profile.
One issue which might arise with the “formula” is that things can change from the start of the season to the start of conference play. What if, for example, the Pilots come roaring out of the gates and finish fourth in the league? The Zags would probably much rather play against them twice than two games against a Pacific Tigers squad, for example, that might struggle throughout the year.
It is an imperfect science, and it almost seems better if the WCC waited a bit longer to release this announcement. Players might still leave programs, or get injured, or anything. There doesn’t appear to be much harm to waiting later in the year to figure this out, especially considering that most teams probably wouldn’t be looking to add extra games during conference play time. Then again, this is the first year of the experiment, and it’ll take time to work out any kinks that might appear.
Overall, theoretically, for a Gonzaga team that is clearly gunning for a No. 1 seed next season, losing two of the potential anchors on the schedule is a good thing.