How Far Will BYU Advance In Final WCC Tournament Appearance?

Feb 27, 2023, 3:17 PM

PROVO, Utah – The end of the road is here for BYU basketball in the WCC. BYU will participate in its final WCC Tournament as a league member this week.

Since 2012, BYU has been traveling down to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament. Unfortunately, the highlights have been few and far between. They’ve never won a tournament title since being in the league. In addition, BYU hasn’t won a conference tournament championship since 2001.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by KSL Sports (@kslsports)

So it would seem like this year would produce similar results considering BYU is only 17-14 overall on the year and finished 7-9 in WCC play. But there’s some reason for optimism that BYU could make a run in this year’s league tourney.

All seven of BYU’s wins over WCC foes were by double-digits. Three of those victories were against teams on their side of the bracket to set up a potential semifinal showdown with Saint Mary’s, who earned the number-one seed.

Concerning Saint Mary’s, BYU had two close calls against the WCC’s top team this season—a one-point heartbreaker in Provo, then a six-point loss in Moraga.

But what about Gonzaga?

The Zags are beginning to play some of their best basketball at the right time. You can bank on Gonzaga being in the WCC Tournament Championship Game, as they’ve been in the title game every year for the past 25 seasons.

But Gonzaga has shown to be beatable this year by their lofty standards. BYU had a heartbreaker against them in Provo and opportunities to pull an upset in The Kennel.

The WCC as a whole is much improved this year. Across the board, every team has veteran players, and it’s made for an exciting year of WCC hoops.

So how will BYU will close out their final conference tournament chapter in their WCC story?

2023 WCC Tournament Predictions

Here are my predictions for the 2023 WCC Tournament.

First Round

Thursday, March 2, 2023

No. 8 Portland vs. No. 9 San Diego

My pick: Portland

No. 7 Pacific vs. No. 10 Pepperdine

My pick: Pacific

Second Round

Friday, March 3, 2023

No. 5 BYU vs. No. 8 Portland

My pick: BYU

Getting the 5-seed was important for BYU for a variety of reasons. First, it allows them to avoid the opening round, they get the earlier tip times allowing for more warmup time on the floor before tip-off, and then they have a more favorable draw.

Portland caused some headlines in the conference in November, going toe-to-toe with North Carolina and Michigan State while also pulling off a win over Villanova. But they’ve dealt with injuries and inconsistent lineups like BYU.

Pilots have lost seven of their last nine. First games in any tournament are always tricky, but a matchup with Portland could allow BYU to have a feeling-out process and still come away with a win.

No. 7 Pacific vs. No. 6 San Francisco

My pick: San Francisco


Saturday, March 4, 2023

No. 4 LMU vs. No. 5 BYU

My pick: BYU

These two teams split the season series, each defending their home court. BYU’s win over LMU in Provo was one of the best victories of the season for the Cougars, as they crushed LMU by 28 points. A game that didn’t include LMU big man Rick Issanza.

LMU guard Cam Shelton is one of the top players in the league. He will cause a lot of issues, as he always does.

But I think BYU defensively could be the difference here, especially if they limit LMU from succeeding beyond the arc. LMU was third in the league during conference play from three-point range at 38.4% from distance.

No. 3 Santa Clara vs. No. 6 San Francisco

My pick: Santa Clara


Monday, March 6, 2023

No. 1 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 5 BYU

My pick: Saint Mary’s

If the BYU team that crushed San Francisco to close out the regular season shows up in this semifinal matchup against Saint Mary’s, BYU could pull the upset. But there’s also the chance BYU could lay an egg, as shown in spots during the up-and-down regular season.

The elevator bracket setup in the WCC allows the top two seeds to have byes until Semifinal Monday night. But we’ve seen the top two seeds in the last handful of years in battles because of the long layoff and facing teams with a game or two under their belts on the court already.

It’s an unusual setup. But ultimately, the Saint Mary’s stars Logan Johnson and Aidan Mahaney will be too much for BYU as the Gaels escape with another close call.

An upset win over the Gaels would put BYU 40 minutes away from an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and almost lock them into the NIT field. A loss would likely keep them on bubble watch for the NIT.

No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Santa Clara

My pick: Gonzaga

WCC Tournament Championship Game

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

No. 1 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 2 Gonzaga

My pick: Gonzaga

The WCC should hope that a Cinderella or two emerges in this WCC Tournament because that would give the league three NCAA Tournament teams this year. But as we know in the WCC Tourney, it’s the chalkiest field in college hoops.

The Orleans in Vegas is always The Kennel South this time of the year. Gonzaga takes home another WCC Tournament Title in their “down year.”

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

BYU Cougars

BYU Football, Spring Scrimmage, Jake Retzlaff...
Mitch Harper

BYU Football Held ‘Boring’ Scrimmage For TV Cameras

BYU football held a spring scrimmage that led to coaches not wanting to show much.
2 days ago
BYU Football, Alumni Game...
Mitch Harper

BYU Football Alumni Game Comes Down To Final Play Again

BYU football Alumni Game finished with heroics again.
2 days ago
BYU Head Coach Kalani Sitake at spring practice 2023...
Matt Baiamonte

Defense Shines In BYU Football’s Spring Game

It’s only spring football, however, I do believe this defensive line will be much improved come the fall.
2 days ago
BYU Football, Kedon Slovis, Spring Game...
Mitch Harper

Live Analysis From BYU Football’s Spring Scrimmage

Analysis and insight from inside LaVell Edwards Stadium for BYU's spring scrimmage.
2 days ago
Ty Detmer, BYU Football, Alumni Game...
Mitch Harper

Ty Detmer, John Beck Highlight BYU Football Alumni Game Rosters

After the spring game concludes, BYU alums will take the field for an Alumni Game.
3 days ago
BYU Football - Big 12 Conference...
Mitch Harper

BYU Kicks Off Spring Game Schedule For Big 12 Teams In 2023

BYU will be the first Big 12 team in 2023 to have a televised spring event. Here's the schedule for the rest of the league.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
How Far Will BYU Advance In Final WCC Tournament Appearance?