After a Sunday of exciting West Coast Conference basketball, the 2011 WCC men's basketball tournament has reached it's finale. The No. 1-seeded St. Mary's Gaels will face the No. 2-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, with the winner securing the league's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. A St. Mary's win will give the Gaels back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in school history. Both squads find themselves firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble watch.
Clearly both teams desperately want to win this game. However, the possibility of an at-large berth does exist in some manner for both teams. Both teams find themselves precipitously on the bubble, with the Gaels sitting with an RPI of 46 and the Bulldogs with an RPI of 67. The Bulldogs best win this season was over RPI No. 21 Xavier. The Gaels own an impressive win over the St. John's Red Storm. SMC and Gonzaga split their matchup this season with both teams rolling up a road upset.
Both teams deserve credit for putting together solid non-conference schedules, although at the end of the day losses to good teams aren't exactly the best help. Gonzaga lost at home to San Diego State, Memphis, and Illinois, lost on the road to Notre Dame and Washington State, and lost on a neutral site to Kansas State. Saint Mary's lost on the road to San Diego State and Vanderbilt, lost at home to Utah State, and lost on a neutral court to BYU.
I'd argue that Saint Mary's road loss to No. 317 San Diego would put them in a worse position, but Gonzaga's losses at No. 121 San Francisco and No. 158 Santa Clara don't give them much better cred. It wouldn't surprise me at this point if the WCC ended up as a one bid league. That should make this game all the more entertaining as desperation level should be incredibly high.
We'll have more updates from tonight's game in our WCC tournament story stream. Additionally, you can get a Gonzaga perspective on this weekend's games in SB Nation Seattle's WCC tournament story stream and at The Slipper Still Fits.