WCC Tournament Brackets 2016: Schedule Begins For WCC Tournament

WCC tournament brackets for 2016 showcase Saints Mary's and Gonzaga again. The 2016 WCC tournament brackets began on Friday, March 4, with the play-in game between the eighth and ninth seeds. A report from the West Coast Conference laid out all the match-ups for the first five games in both the men's and women's postseason tournaments. The Saint Mary's Gaels are the No. 1 seed and the favorites to win the tournament, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs slotted as the No. 2 seed after getting swept in head-to-head games with Saint Mary's this year.

No. 8 Loyola Marymount beat No. 9 San Diego 64-61 on March 4 to decide which school advances to play No. 1 Saint Mary's on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m. PT. The other quarterfinal match-ups are No. 3 BYU vs. No. 6 Santa Clara (1 p.m. PT), No. 4 Pepperdine vs. No. 5 San Francisco (3 p.m. PT), and No. 2 Gonzaga vs. No. 7 Portland (9 p.m. PT). The first three games are on CSN BA and BYUtv, while ESPN will cover the Saint Mary's and Gonzaga games Saturday night.

Within the 2016 WCC tournament brackets, the two semifinal games will take place on Monday, March 7 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. PT. ESPN will cover the first game, while ESPN2 will broadcast the nightcap. The men's WCC Championship Game is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8 at 6 p.m. PT. The first round of the women's WCC tournament brackets begins on March 3, with the quarterfinals spreading across March 4 as well. The semifinals are then on March 7, with the women's WCC Championship Game played at 1 p.m. PT on March 8.

Domantas Sabonis With Gonzaga
[Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images]The 2016 WCC Tournament holds more importance to schools this year than in the past, as many college basketball analysts are predicting that the conference will only send one team to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. It could come down to that automatic bid, putting added pressure on schools like Saint Mary's and Gonzaga to go on a quick winning streak. An updated bracketology report from CBS Sports states that both Saint Mary's and Gonzaga could be heading to the NIT Tournament if they don't win the WCC.

During the regular season, Saint Mary's finished with a 24-4 overall record. The school is currently ranked No. 50 in the RPI, with key victories against Stanford and Gonzaga (twice). Gonzaga had a rough non-conference schedule, losing to No. 19 Arizona, No. 25 Texas A&M, and UCLA. The school did beat No. 18 Connecticut and the Washington Huskies, but after losing three WCC games, fell to 23-7 overall. Gonzaga cannot pick up an eighth loss and rely upon the NCAA Selection Committee for an invite.

What might make the WCC tournament brackets even more exciting for fans is that No. 3 seeded Brigham Young University beat both Gonzaga and Saint Mary's during the regular season. That could set up some very interesting match-ups later on in the tournament. If the better seeds win each game, the WCC tournament brackets would lead to Gonzaga vs. BYU in the semifinals. The winner of that game could then move on to play Saint Mary's in the WCC Championship Game if no upsets take place.

Saint Mary's Wins 2012 Tourney
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]A player to keep an eye on in the WCC Tournament is Gonzaga power forward Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis has averaged 17.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per game this season. He is expected to become a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, so there is additional pressure for him to perform well in the conference tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament. Will the 2016 WCC tournament brackets lead to another Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's showdown? Can another school pull off an early round upset and go dancing with the rest of the country later in March?

[Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images]