SPOKANE, Wash. – Top seed and West Coast Conference regular-season champion Gonzaga University will face either the University of the Pacific or Santa Clara University in a 6 p.m. PST quarterfinal Saturday in the WCC Basketball Championship at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The Bulldogs wrapped up sole possession of first place last Thursday at Pacific, and the eighth-seeded Tigers could be Gonzaga’s foe Saturday. Santa Clara is the No. 9 seed. The Tigers and Broncos meet Thursday in a play-in game with the winner facing the Zags. The Bulldogs swept both foes during the regular season.
Gonzaga has won 15 of the last 17 WCC regular-season crowns and is the defending champion of the WCC Basketball Championship.
One thing is certain entering this year’s post-season; Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s College will not be meeting for a sixth straight time when the championship game is played next Tuesday. With No. 4 seed Saint Mary’s facing No. 5 seed Pepperdine University in a quarterfinal in the same half of the bracket as the Zags, the two teams can only meet in Monday’s semifinal.
The last time the Bulldogs and the Gaels did not face off in the tourney final was 2008 when No. 3 seed San Diego topped No. 1 seed Gonzaga 69-62 in San Diego prior to the WCC Basketball Championship moving to Las Vegas and The Orleans Arena in 2009.
The tournament will begin with a women’s opening round match-up at noon PST on Thursday and continue through the men’s championship game on Tuesday. All 18 games will be televised live nationwide, and all 18 will be streamed on-line.
The top-seeded Gonzaga women, who wrapped up a 10th straight regular-season title last Thursday, will play either No. 8 University of San Francisco or No. 9 Loyola Marymount University in Friday’s 6 p.m. PST quarterfinal.
This season marks the first year as a 10-team conference, and the WCC has adopted a more traditional 10-team bracket. Seeds 7-10 will play in the tournament’s opening round on Thursday. Quarterfinals will take place Friday for the women and Saturday for the men. There will be no games on Sunday with the tournament resuming next Monday with women’s and men’s semifinals. The two champions will be crowned next Tuesday to determine the automatic berths into the respective NCAA Tournaments.
BYU and San Francisco tied for second places in the men’s standings with identical 13-5 marks. The Cougars will be the second seed by virtue of their head-to-head-sweep of the Dons. Saint Mary’s is the fourth seed, and will open tournament play against fifth seed Pepperdine in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. San Diego and Portland finished with a 7-11 record in conference play, and the Toreros earn the sixth seed and accompanying opening round bye due to their head-to-head sweep of the Pilots. WCC newcomer Pacific and Santa Clara tied for eighth place, and the Tigers will be the eight seed as a result of their win over second seed BYU. Pacific and Santa Clara will square off in Thursday’s opening round. Loyola Marymount is the tenth seed and will face Portland on Thursday night.
The championships get underway at noon Thursday with a pair of opening-round women’s games. Women’s action tips off the tournament as No. 7 Santa Clara faces 10th seed Pepperdine. The 8 vs. 9 match-up follows when San Francisco takes on Loyola Marymount. At 6 p.m., the men’s tournament begins when No. 7 Portland battles No. 10 Loyola Marymount, followed by No. 8 Pacific meeting No. 9 Santa Clara.
For the second straight year, every game from the championships will be nationally televised. Twelve games can be seen live in more than 60 million homes nationwide via cable and satellite on BYUtv. Those games – including eight women’s games and the first four men’s games – will also be streamed live on TheW.tv, the West Coast Conference’s new available-anywhere platform.
The two men’s evening quarterfinals will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 6 p.m. On Monday, one men’s semifinal will air at 6 p.m. on ESPN, with the other semifinal immediately to follow on ESPN2. The order of Monday’s semifinals is to be determined following Saturday’s games.
On Tuesday, the women’s championship game will be shown nationwide at 1 p.m. on ESPNU. At 6 p.m., the West Coast Conference men’s championship game will air live on ESPN. All six ESPN Networks telecasts can also be seen live on WatchESPN.com.