With many of the nation’s top power conferences tipping off their tournaments on Wednesday, the mid-majors get one last night on center stage on Tuesday. And it’s only fitting that the night’s marquee game features the program all mid-majors aspire to be.
And the way this season has unfolded, if nothing else the West Coast Conference championship game ought to be played with plenty of urgency.
After all, Gonzaga and BYU are probably both headed to the tournament regardless of the outcome . . . probably.
Brigham Young, in particular, could spare itself a lot of Sunday hand-wringing by beating Gonzaga and getting the league’s automatic bid. But both teams have strong-enough RPI numbers to get at-large bids.
GONZAGA — The Bulldogs belonged in the NCAA Tournament before Monday’s 70-54 win over St. Mary’s, and can now secure an automatic bid by winning Tuesday’s West Coast Conference tournament championship game in Las Vegas. But that’ll only be a clerical distinction — Gonzaga is No. 22 in the RPI and four of its six losses have come against the RPI top 50.
BYU — A loss Monday to San Francisco would have made BYU nervous heading into Selection Sunday, despite an RPI of 33. But the Cougars survived in overtime and will face the Bulldogs for the automatic spot. BYU can’t relax yet, but wins over Stanford, Texas and Gonzaga should give the Cougars just enough to slip into the tournament.