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Predicting the Postseason for WCC Teams

We're now less than one month from Selection Sunday. Do any WCC teams have reason to bust out their dancing shoes or should they resign themselves to the NIT, CBI or CIT?

The WCC Tournament Championship trophy.
The WCC Tournament Championship trophy.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Before getting into this allow me to explain the methodology behind what is laid out below.

RPI figures are current as of February 15. The records for this season are predicted through the WCC Tournament using the expected winner of remaining regular-season games according to KenPom's metrics. Teams were then seeded based upon that extrapolation and I assumed the higher seed in each WCC Tournament game to be the winner of that game, to make this exercise simple and objective. Records for past teams include regular season and WCC Tournament games only, so they differ from the final records. I've defined a bad loss here as a loss to a team below 150 in the RPI.

Teams are sorted into three categories which can overlap: the NCAA Tournament hopefuls, the likely NIT teams and those who are CBI/CIT or bust.

The Zags will not be part of this. They're not an NCAA Tournament hopeful, they're a lock for the NCAA Tournament and arguing about that is best left to Twitter, where the "are they worthy of a one seed" debate rages on hilariously among idiots and those who don't realize arguing with idiots online is a waste of time.

I've also eliminated from consideration teams predicted to finish with sub-.500 records.

Finally, once I sorted all of that out I put the predicted 2015 resumes into an historical context so to answer the question of how these tournaments view teams coming from the WCC. This way the question isn't "are they worthy" but rather do they fit the mold set by previous teams.

Now, can a WCC team earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament? Here's how the two teams with any semblance of hope left compare to the four WCC teams to earn an at-large since BYU joined in 2011-12.

WCC NCAA Tournament At-Large

The most obvious deficiency in this year's crop of hopefuls is their RPI. Since BYU joined the WCC no team has earned an at-large bid with RPI's as low as BYU or Saint Mary's have at this point this season.

Both teams can pretty much be eliminated from the at-large berth conversation should the season play out according to my predictions.

However, that's unlikely. Both BYU and Saint Mary's have one more shot at Gonzaga in the regular season. Should one of them ruin Gonzaga's bid for an undefeated conference season, win every other game except the WCC Tournament final (which would likely be against Gonzaga) and get a little help from teams on the bubble, who knows. That sounds impossible, but it's really the only way to keep hope alive if you're a fan of those teams.

While the NCAA Tournament is unlikely both teams are virtual locks for the NIT. So, there's that.

WCC NIT Teams

Saint Mary's won a game in last year's NIT. BYU made it to the final four in Madison Square Garden back in 2013. This season, both teams are on pace for better resumes than any of their three predecessors. They look very much the part of highly capable NIT teams.

What about the remainder of the league? Will the CBI and/or CIT play host to multiple middle-of-the-pack WCC teams as they have in the past? Or are there any teams capable of doing what San Francisco did last season and making a surprise run to the NIT?

The answer to the final question is, unfortunately no.

Portland, a team I was high on coming into the season, fell apart early in conference play and failed to do much of note in the non-conference. The Pilots have righted the ship, just in time, and won four straight games.

Around when Portland faltered Pepperdine came on strong and picked up a bunch of good wins. The Waves looked primed for a strong finish, but now they're hobbling on a three game losing streak and have lost point guard Amadi Udenyi to a ruptured Achilles.

That's not to say their seasons will end in Las Vegas, though. Both teams have better resumes than any of the WCC's three most recent participants in the CBI and CIT.

WCC CBI CIT Teams

The only real problem for Pepperdine or Portland is their strength of schedule. Otherwise, their resumes are comparable or better than any of the three previous CBI and CIT teams to come out of the WCC.

They both look like locks to receive and invite to the CIT but Pepperdine might have a shot at the CBI thanks to those three wins over BYU and Saint Mary's.

For what it's worth, Santa Clara won the 2013 CBI despite having far and away the worst RPI of any team I looked at in this exercise. The Broncos also won a postseason trophy in 2011 as champs of the CIT. Can they keep up the pattern of winning a small postseason tournament every other year? Probably not, they're four games under .500 with four games left, of which KenPom predicts just one victory (vs. Pacific). That would put Santa Clara as the seven seed in the WCC Tournament where they would face tenth seeded Pacific (a victory using my methodology) but then fall to second seeded Saint Mary's. With a record of 13-19 at the end of the season they'll be on the wrong side of things.

San Diego, on the other hand, is currently a game above .500 with three to play. Unfortunately, all three games are on the road — at BYU, Gonzaga and Portland. They're predicted to lose all of them, understandably, which would send them into Vegas as the six seed. That gives them a bye into the quarterfinals where they run into BYU and likely lose. The Toreros finish the season three games below .500 while their dancing shoes collect dust in a closet.

Anyways, back to the teams with legitimate postseason hopes. With this historical perspective where can we expect to see them play come March?

Gonzaga makes the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Mary's and BYU both make the NIT, likely both receiving a seed high enough (1-4) to guarantee a home game.

Pepperdine and Portland both make either the 16 team CBI or the 32 team, exclusively mid-major CIT.

For the second consecutive year the WCC sends five teams to the postseason.

Resume comparisons and history lessons aside, it's important to remember that the WCC tournament is held on a neutral court in Las Vegas, during the mad month of March. It's always possible that one of the nine teams on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble pulls what San Diego did in 2008 and steals the conference's auto-bid.

There's no reason to give up hope with a month left, especially since my predictions assume the favorite wins 100% of the time.