Joe Lunardi on possibility of WCC having three NCAA Tournament teams: ‘Very unlikely’
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is not high on the WCC’s odds for three bids
Could BYU still earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid?
“Joey Brackets” a.k.a. Joe Lunardi a.k.a. the man who knows everything about the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Bracketologist expert held a Q&A for his Twitter followers on Tuesday night and one of the questions he answered surrounded the possibility of the West Coast Conference or Mountain West Conference producing three NCAA Tournament teams.
Here was Lunardi’s reply:
Should we be surprised? Probably not. After all, the West Coast Conference has only produced two seasons with three NCAA Tournament squads since 2002 and only one of those has been during BYU’s time in the conference and that was the Cougars first year in 2011-12 season.
The West Coast Conference is currently rated as the 11th best conference according to the KenPom rankings, while the Mountain West Conference is the eighth rated league in America.
The only scenario where I could see the WCC producing three bids this year is if BYU wins the conference tournament and plays St. Mary’s in the Championship game. I expect Gonzaga to win the regular season conference title, since they never lose to anyone not named BYU, and the only time they lose to the Cougars is when the game is in The Kennel. Anyone else in the WCC has no prayer against the Zags. So I expect Gonzaga to earn an at-large bid with a regular season conference title.
St. Mary’s and BYU would then both be on the bubble and both would need to get to at least the WCC Championship Game in Las Vegas. This is all assuming that both teams avoid the terrible loss to a sub-200 team in the KenPom rankings. BYU has luckily avoided that so far as Pacific has shown to not be a fluke since their upset win over the Cougars.
But that’s the only scenario where three West Coast Conference teams could make a case to get in this year. But with how there are not many dominant teams in the Power Five ranks, it’s hard to imagine many mid-major squads earning at-large bids this season.