The West Coast Conference Tournament 2017 edition tips off on Friday afternoon as teams look to contend for an automatic bid to the “Big Dance.” The latest tourney is among several that start early in the month of March and bring plenty of “madness” along with them. Teams will basically be looking to knock off the Gonzaga Bulldogs, which up until recently was a feat that seemed impossible within the conference, let alone college basketball.
As reported by USA Today on Sunday, the No. 1 Bulldogs lost their first game of the season, falling 79-71 to the Brigham Young Cougars. Gonzaga had been on a quest to run the tables and go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated, but they now will settle for a record of 29-1 overall and 17-1 in the conference. BYU’s Eric Mika was on fire for his team, finishing with 29 points after shooting 10 of 14 from the floor and hitting 9 of his 13 free throw attempts. Mika also snatched 11 rebounds in the win.
BYU head coach Dave Rose discussed keeping the momentum going in the game and how it impacts the Cougars going forward.
“They haven’t had anyone have a lead on them in the second half for quite a while. I thought that would be a really big emotional thing for us, and an emotional thing for them to have to respond. You beat the No. 1 team on the road the last weekend of the season, it’s good for a lot of reasons.”
One of those reasons is to catch the attention of the selection committee ahead of Selection Sunday. As of this report, ESPN college basketball “Bracketology” expert, Joe Lunardi, has projected just two teams from the West Coast Conference to make the “Big Dance.” Unfortunately, BYU isn’t listed as one of them, as Lunardi has Gonzaga as a No. 1 seed in the West and conference rival Saint Mary’s as a No. 6 seed in the South bracket.
BYU is currently third in the WCC right now with an unremarkable record of 21-10 overall and 12-6 in the conference, although they have the huge win over a No. 1 opponent. Now, they just need to do a bit more work in the conference tournament this week and weekend. If they can win this tournament in full, which could mean knocking off Gonzaga again, that would give them an automatic entry to the “Dance.”
As noted via WCC Sports website, tournament play for the men’s first round opens on Friday evening when No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 9 Pacific step onto the court. The winner of this matchup gets the unenviable task of trying to hand Gonzaga their second-straight loss in less than a week’s time. Also on Friday, No. 7 San Diego takes on No. 10 Portland at 8 p.m. local time.
These first few games of the WCC Tournament will be shown on BYUtv in regions that have the channel, or live streaming online through TheW.tv, with coverage also available via Twitter. Coverage will switch over to several other networks, with ESPN taking over for the Gonzaga game on Saturday night and continuing coverage through the weekend’s championship.
WCC Tournament 2017 Schedule:
Friday, March 3 – First Round:
- 6:00 PM Men’s First Round: No. 8 Pepperdine vs. No. 9 Pacific (BYUtv | TheW.tv | Twitter)
- 8:00 PM Men’s First Round: No. 7 San Diego vs. No. 10 Portland (BYUtv | TheW.tv | Twitter)
Saturday, March 4 – Quarterfinals:
- 1 p.m. No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Loyola Marymount
- 3 p.m. No. 4 Santa Clara vs. No. 5 San Francisco
- 7 p.m. No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No.8 or 9 (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
- 9 p.m. No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 7 or 10 (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
Sunday, March 5 – Off
Monday, March 6 – Semifinals:
- 6 p.m. Semifinal 1 (ESPN/WatchESPN)
- 8:30 p.m. Semifinal 2 (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
Tuesday, March 7 – Championship:
- 6 p.m. Championship Game (ESPN/WatchESPN)
The quarterfinals start at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday with No. 4 BYU taking on No. 6 Loyola Marymount. This game is followed at 3 p.m. local time by No. 4 Santa Clara and No. 5 San Francisco going head-to-head. Games will be shown on Spectrum SportsNet, CSN Bay Area, ROOT Rocky Mountain, BYUtv, TheW.tv and Twitter, where available.
On Saturday night, Gonzaga takes on either Pepperdine or Pacific beginning at 7 p.m. local time. At 9 p.m., No. 2 seed Saint Mary’s takes on the No. 7 San Diego or No. 10 seed Portland. These games will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with live streaming coverage via WatchESPN website or mobile apps, as well as the SlingTV streaming channel service. Viewers can check out a printable bracket for the WCC Tournament via the conference website here.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are still among the favorites on sports odds to win the bigger tournament. As of this report, the team is listed by Vegas Insider with odds of 10 to 1 to win the National Championship. That ranks them fifth behind Kansas, Duke, Villanova, and North Carolina heading into these crucial conference tournaments. If Gonzaga falls again, expect that No. 1 seed to be in jeopardy ahead of the March 12 selection show.
[Featured Image by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images]