The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the overwhelming favorite to secure the auto-bid and keep the WCC a one-bid league. Crazier things have happened, however, and Saint Mary’s, San Francisco, and BYU are all playing for a chance at postseason glory.
Storylines to watch
Does anyone else other than Gonzaga have an actual chance?
Despite the fact this is a pro-Gonzaga blog, we try to not be too big of homers here. The simple answer to that question, however, is most likely not. The Zags are the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason, and that gulf of talent has been on display every game during conference play. Gonzaga ran the table this year, beating foes by an average of 27.6 points per game.
Some teams found a way to play it closer, including Saint Mary’s in the final game of conference play. The big issue, however, is that outside of BYU, no one really travels to Vegas quite the Zag faithful, most likely especially in a year in which the odds of succeeding are so low.
There is really no other way around it. If Gonzaga loses in the WCC Tournament, it will be a massive upset, both in terms for the Zags’ seeding in a couple of weeks, and in terms of the rest of the NCAA bubble.
What is going to be the point of watching then?
For Gonzaga fans, the big reason to tune in will be the potential return of Killian Tillie. After missing the entire first half of the season recovering from an ankle injury, Tillie appeared in nine WCC games before falling victim to another injury. He hasn’t played since Feb. 7, and the Zags haven’t really looked back.
You can make a case for not rocking the boat (and seemingly in Gonzaga land, all signs are pointing up), but when a player of TIllie’s potential returns, you have to slot him in somewhere. It is rather inconceivable to think that throughout the year, the Zags haven’t really operated at full strength, yet here we are. If Tillie returns in time for the WCC Tournament, even for the most ardent Gonzaga fan who is sick of WCC play, this is must watch TV.
For the rest of the nation who might just happen to be tuning into Gonzaga basketball for the first time, it is an opportunity to see the Zags’ No. 1 offense up against some halfway decent teams. The WCC Tournament schedule means Gonzaga is off until the semi-finals, so between that game and the championship game, Gonzaga will be facing off against solid squads.
First Round - March 7
- Game 1: No. 8 Pepperdine vs. No. 9 Pacific, 6:00 pm, ROOT Sports, TheW.tv
- Game 2: No. 7 San Diego vs. No. 10 Portland, 8:00 pm, ROOT Sports, TheW.tv
Second Round - March 8
- Game 3: No. 5 LMU vs. Game 1 Winner, 6:00 pm, TheW.tv
- Game 4: No. 6 Santa Clara vs. Game 2 Winner, 8:00 pm, TheW.tv
Third Round - March 9
- Game 5: No. 4 San Francisco vs. Game 3 Winner, 7:00 pm, ESPN
- Game 6: No. 3 BYU vs. Game 4 Winner, 9:00 pm, ESPN2
Semifinals - March 11
- No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Game 5 Winner, 6:00 pm, ESPN
- No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. Game 6 Winner, 8:30 pm, ESPN2
Championship - March 12
- Men’s Championship Game, 6:00 pm, ESPN