West Coast Conference Changes Basketball Schedule In Attempt To Keep Gonzaga
WCC really wants to keep Gonzaga
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Will this scheduling change work?
The West Coast Conference is adjusting its basketball scheduling philoshpy in an attempt to create more at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament.
That is what they are saying publicly. Privately this is an attempt to keep Gonzaga from leaving for the Mountain West. The Zags are reportedly mulling over a decision on whether to change leagues over the next few weeks.
The presidents of the WCC agreed to most of these changes starting next season.
“We are pleased to approve scheduling and other changes to WCC men’s basketball beginning next season,” said Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., President of the University of San Francisco and Chair, West Coast Conference Presidents’ Council. “We are confident that these innovative adjustments will enhance access to the NCAA Tournament for the best programs of our marquee sport.”
Those changes include lowering the number of conference games from 18 to 16 which is an immediate change, and the matchups will be decided on criteria and likely meaning the top teams play the top teams twice. That is simialr to what the Mountain West does in its non-balanced schedule.
This will free up each team to play two more non-league plays. With those extra games comes some restrictions. The WCC is implementing a rule where only two non-D1 teams can be scheduled each year and the league will be required to compete in a multi-team event each season, annually play more home games than away game.
In addition, the Conference must approve all “guarantee” games in which a WCC member is paid by an opponent to play at the opponent’s venue.
Another set of changes comes to the conference tournament. It will stay in the Orleans in Las Vegas, but the format is changing. The top two teams earn a triple-bye to the semifinals, the third and fourth seeds get a double-bye, the fifth and six get one by and then seen through 10 play in an opening round.
This is clearly to protect the higher seeds but Gonzaga basically has a cake walk as it is to the semifinals each year, so not sure how much it helps them. This does help the other teams which earn a top-four seed by getting at least one bye and one fewer chance to be knocked out.
All of these changes would help Gonzaga because they could in theory go out and schedule tougher opponents in those two games and an easier path to win the WCC tournament title. However, it does not solve the overall better play which Gonzaga would get by playing in a better overall league in the Mountain West.