By Nathan Farmer
The 2021-22 college basketball season has been a wild and unpredictable one. COVID-19 has forced many programs to pause their schedules, but we have still been able to witness some exciting games through the first half of the season.
One thing almost no one saw coming outside of the West Coast Conference was the emergence of four bona fide tournament-quality teams. Everyone knew Gonzaga would be there at the top and that BYU was expected to be in line for another single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament, but outside of the top two, there were some question marks.
Those question marks have been quickly put to bed, with Saint Mary’s bouncing back after a down year in 2020-21, and the San Francisco Dons getting off to their best start since the Bill Cartwright days. The hashtag, “#FourBidWCC” has been trending on numerous occasions, and it’s starting to gain traction among college basketball pundits.
In his latest “Bracketology,” ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has all four of these teams making the tournament– with Gonzaga as a 1-seed, BYU and USF hovering around the 8/9-seed line, and Saint Mary’s as a 10-seed among the last four byes. NCAA.com’s Stan Becton has roughly the same, but predicts the Gaels will be among the First Four teams playing in Dayton.
Ken Pomeroy, however, isn’t so optimistic. He predicts some attrition to occur in conference play. The college basketball mastermind joined Ben Criddle on Friday to discuss BYU basketball and the possibility of a four-bid WCC come Selection Sunday.
“The WCC is probably not going to get four teams in the NCAA Tournament, that’s important to understand here,” said Pomeroy. “Obviously Gonzaga’s a shoo-in, but BYU, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco are going to be battling it out. Whoever finishes last among that round-robin of teams is going to have a difficult case to make.”
BYU is trending well among the KenPom rankings. The Cougars currently rank 26th overall, and are in the top 40 in both the offensive and defensive metrics. Saint Mary’s and USF are just behind at 32nd and 35th respectively.
Pomeroy believes that the Cougars will have plenty of opportunities in conference play to improve their stock, potentially rising off of the risky 8/9 line.
“They’re going to have opportunities to add to their profile. Their non-conference profile is pretty solid as well, so all that should add up to being able to get a six-seed, assuming they finish 2nd in the league.”
Of course this is all contingent on the WCC actually getting their games in. So far, BYU’s game against Pacific has been the only game that’s been able to be played in the entire conference. USF saw their road matchup against Gonzaga canceled last week, and Saint Mary’s saw their first three games postponed as well. The WCC will surely do their due-diligence to make sure these games are made up, especially the ones among the top four.
You can listen to the full interview with Ken Pomeroy on ESPN 960 below.
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