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2022 WCC Tournament: Storylines on the women’s side

Can the WCC be a two-bid conference?

NCAA Womens Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs BYU Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The WCC Tournament is officially set to begin in Las Vegas on March 3, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs won’t be hitting the court until March 7, thanks to their No. 2 seeding providing a bye into the semifinals.

Bracket, Dates, Times, and TV Schedules

Here is the bracket, the times, and the TV channels for those that need to know.

Storylines to Watch

Does BYU coast to an easy victory?

The BYU Cougars are currently ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll and have, for the most part, rolled through the WCC. They earned the No. 1 seed with a 15-1 conference record, one-half game ahead of the No. 2 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. Led by the power combo of Shaylee Gonzales and Paisley Harding, the Cougars boast a top 10 offense and a near-top 20 defense according to HerHoopStats.

By all accounts, the Cougars should roll through the WCC Tournament and capture the autobid for the NCAA Tournament. They’ve absolutely steamrolled a majority of their competition this season, owning the highest scoring margin in the country. However, one team, semi-recently, had something to say about that.

Can Portland make the NCAA Tournament?

In 2020, the Portland Pilots shocked the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the semifinals and ultimately defeated the San Diego Toreros to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. Of course, as we all know, that NCAA Tournament never came to fruition due to COVID.

Portland, at 16-9 on the season, are limping into the WCC Tournament as the No. 4 seed, having lost four of their final six games of the season. However, they are the one WCC team that defeated BYU this season, and they just happen to be on that side of the bracket. Alex Fowler is one of the best scorers in the conference and Haylee Andrews is hardly a slouch. However, the win over BYU looks more like an aberration than anything else. It’ll be an uphill climb, but the Pilots could make a run to punch their third ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Will the WCC be a two-bid league?

In Charlie Creme’s latest bracket, the Zags are still in it to win it, albeit just barely, as the play-in No. 11 seed. However, that places them as one of the last four teams in the bracket, and that means they could easily have their bubble burst depending on how the other conference tournament shakes out.

So the Zags are in the slightly unenviable position: They don’t technically (yet) need to win the WCC Tournament, but doing so would definitely ease the wait for the next week until the Selection Committee decides their fate.

Of course, winning the whole thing is easier said than done, but not out of the question. If Gonzaga is able to figure out how to capture the magic of the first half of their first meeting against BYU, in which they outscored the Cougars 35-20 and look absolutely dominant, than the Zags have more than a fighting chance. However, that ignores that BYU outscored Gonzaga 105-54 in the other 60 minutes of play this season.

Before even getting go that point, however, the Zags will have to make it past their first round game, which could potentially be against San Francisco, a team they beat this season by six points.