There is one big college basketball game Monday between the two best West Coast teams but in the big picture it may not matter who wins it.
Gonzaga (30-2), No. 1 in both the golferswest.com West’s Best and the copy-cat national polls, plays St. Mary’s (27-5) for the West Coast Conference tournament title Monday night in Las Vegas. Win or lose, it still appears that the Zags will receive one of the four No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. A loss may drop the Bulldogs out of the top spot in the national rankings but at this point in the season all the teams are playing for No. 1 at the end of the tournament.
St. Mary’s, assured of gaining a tournament berth, could improve its seeding with a victory but it will be a challenge. Gonzaga beat the Gaels twice this season, 83-78 and 77-60.
The Bulldogs earned the WCC’s top seed for the 13th time. The Zags were the first team to go 16-0 in the league in the two years of the 16-game format. It was their fourth undefeated West Coast campaign, also going unbeaten in 2004, 2006 and 2009, when the conference played a 14-game schedule.
The two WCC teams continue to be ranked one/two in our poll. No other team could make a run at them last week because virtually every team lost at least one game. New Mexico, which was No. 3, lost twice and dropped to fifth. Also, Oregon fell from fifth to eighth after two closing losses. The Ducks had the Pac-12 title in hand but collapsed on their final road trip.
California (20-10), which had won seven straight, dropped out of the top 10 after its regular-season finale loss to Stanford. Colorado State (24-7) replaced the Bears.
No. Team / Notes
- Gonzaga (30-2)/ Motivation is beating St. Mary’s Monday and getting a No. 1 seed
- St. Mary’s (27-5)/ Have won six in a row; could get a high NCAA seed
- Weber State (24-5)/ Won final 10 conference games to finish second
- UCLA (23-8)/ Despite upset loss to WSU Wednesday, won Pac-12 title
- New Mexico (26-6)/ Upset by Air Force Saturday but still won MWC
- Arizona (24-6)/ Stumbled to finish line with two losses in final three games
- UNLV (23-8)/ Strange loss – at home – to Fresno Saturday to finish third in MWC
- Oregon (23-8)/ Had Pac-12 title in its grasp but two road losses blew it
- Montana (23-6)/ Closed with four straight wins and the Big Sky title (one loss)
- Colorado State (24-7)/ Needs a good MWC tournament to earn a NCAA bid
CUSP: California (20-10); Boise State (21-9); Denver (21-8); San Diego State (21-9); Colorado (20-10); BYU (21-11).