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What Happens To BYU’s At-Large Chances If WCC Tournament Isn’t Played?

BYU basketball head coach Mark Pope coaching up his players. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – The West Coast Conference has a COVID-19 problem with five of its 10 men’s basketball teams on pause due to the pandemic. There are some rumblings that the conference tournament may not happen.

BYU’s scheduled game vs. San Diego on Tuesday was canceled, again, while Gonzaga has been desperately trying to add any game possible. A non-conference game could not be found, so the Bulldogs added conference foe, Pacific on Thursday night.

The shuffling continues with Gonzaga moving up its Feb. 27 game vs. BYU to Monday night Feb. 8 to attempt to keep a consistent schedule.

Gonzaga has no issues earning an NCAA Tournament invite as they are very likely to earn a No. 1 seed and maybe even one overall. Their issue might just be wanting to play games and be sharp for the NCAA Tournament. As for BYU and the rest of the conference, those extra games could determine if an at-large bid is going to happen or not.

What Happens If There Is No Conference Tournament?

Right now, BYU is in decent shape to make an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and is currently projected as a No. 9 seed in BracketMatrix.com’s composite projections of over 80 brackets, but nothing can be taken for granted or assured at this point.

The Cougars are currently No. 36th in the NET rating which should be good enough for an at-large big. That number could go up as they are playing Gonzaga, and even in a loss, BYU could move up in the NET rating which the NCAA selection committee uses to seed and allocated at-large berths. They also have a scheduled game vs. St. Mary’s who is No. 64th in the NET.

Those games will bolster BYU’s chances, especially with wins.

As for a conference tournament, it may not be worth the gamble, and leagues actually have until Feb. 26 to determine how automatic bids are handed out. So, the WCC could just not risk any COVID-19 outbreak at a tournament gathering and say league champion which is likely Gonzaga.

Also, in a survey conducted on Jan. 21, 27 percent of college head coaches feel that there should be no conference tournaments.

KSL Sports BYU Insider Mitch Harper is not completely sure if the Cougars can make the NCAA Tournament if games keep getting removed from the schedule.

“I think, honestly, BYU, if more games go away and there’s no conference tournament, I think BYU is going to be one of those eight teams sweating it out, going into selection Sunday,” Harper said.

Harper goes on to hypothesize that blue-blood college basketball teams will jump the Cougars and keep them out of the NCAA Tournament, similarly as the College Football Playoff rankings which held back BYU.

“Maybe it’s a little bit of reacting to some of the College Football Playoff where the committee knocked BYU like three or four spots lower than expected,” Harper said. “The bubble has teams like North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse. Do you mean to tell me those brands are not going to get in over BYU?

“So, it’s interesting how it’s going to work out, because I will say the game against San Diego, honestly, in terms of metrics and NCAA tournament resume, it might help BYU to not play San Diego because they are only a two-win team and they were a quadrant four-team, so it might actually help not playing San Diego.”

As for having a WCC tournament, it seems that it would benefit everyone outside of Gonzaga to play this event. The Bulldogs are in for sure and likely a No. 1 seed, but for multiple WCC teams to get in these extra games could provide a boost for a second team to secure an at-large bid.

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