I went to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament for the first time in 2019 during the spring break of my senior year and it was one of the best experiences of my life (except for the end result). Besides the fact that I was winning big money at the poker table, the basketball at Orleans Arena was at an all-time high level of fun. That was two years ago. What’s going to happen this season?
I have some thoughts. One plan (and this is probably the most feasible) came from Mark Few on “SportsCenter with SVP” and it involves teams coming up to the Pacific Northwest. Instead of having all 10 teams play in the Sin City, have the top 3 teams (would be BYU, Santa Clara, and Pepperdine as of right now but could easily change) come to Spokane to battle it out with Gonzaga for the WCC title. Now, Zag fans obviously love this idea to win their 18th conference tournament title since 1999 on their home court at the McCarthy Athletic Center. But do the other WCC teams think this is fair?
Another idea that has been flirted with in the WCC is to have Gonzaga opt-out of the tournament completely this season. I’m not a fan of this one and I’m sure Mark Few isn’t either. When has he ever backed down from any sort of competition? Few’s trying to go for his 17th conference tournament title in his 22nd season as the Gonzaga head coach. On the opposite side, I do see why some would think it would be best for Gonzaga to not play. It could mean the potential for more bids to the NCAA Tournament for the WCC (especially if BYU also decides to opt-out and gives say a Pepperdine a shot at winning an automatic bid). Gonzaga would also have a full and healthy squad heading into Indianapolis.
Here are some really vital points that fans should think about. If Gonzaga does decide to opt-out of the WCC Tournament or it’s canceled altogether, the Zags would have about a three-week gap between their final regular-season game and the first round of the NCAA Tournament. I wouldn’t want Gonzaga to have to shake off the rust in the hardest stretch of the season.
The NCAA is also requiring both coaches and players of tournament teams to have 7 consecutive negative COVID tests before arriving in Indianapolis. The WCC Tournament title game is set for March 9th at this moment and the first round of the NCAA Tournament is kicking off on March 19th. That’s a bit sketchy for me, especially with all the COVID issues the West Coast Conference has had to deal with this season.
There is a lot to think about with this decision.
Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho