The West Coast Conference announced major changes to its men’s basketball conference schedule on Monday with the goal of maximizing NCAA Tournament bids and having its teams earn the highest seeds possible.
The announcement comes amid rumors that Gonzaga may soon leave for the Mountain West. If that happens, the conference would be left with just Saint Mary’s and BYU as teams routinely in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
The scheduling changes, according to a release:
- The conference schedule will go from 18 games per team to 16.
- Assuming a 10-team alignment, schools will play seven teams twice, one home only, and one road only.
- Each team will be required to play in an MTE (multi-team event, think the Maui Invitational or something like that) each year.
- Teams must play more home games than away games.
- Teams may schedule no more than two games per season against non-Division I opponents.
- The conference must approve all “buy games” (those are the games where schools pay a typically weaker opponent to come in and lose by 100).
BYU head coach Dave Rose said the following in the league’s press release, which highlights why the WCC is making such drastic changes:
“Although it is unique for us to be playing fewer Conference games while other conferences are adding games to their schedule, the disparity in RPI from the top of our league to the bottom is larger than any other conference’s. We believe this approach will allow all 10 of our teams to schedule based on the current state of their program, and all 10 of us can go win more games – which will help everyone.”
The WCC has long been a top-heavy league, with Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and BYU existing in a tier by themselves, and the other seven schools dragging them down. These changes are meant to minimize the damage that the bottom of the conference can do to the top.
In addition, the conference will also change its tournament format to benefit the top teams. The first round, which features seeds 7 to 10, will remain unchanged. But in the second round, teams seeded 5 and 6 will face the winners from the first round. The winners of those games will face seeds 3 and 4 the next night. The top two seeds will receive a bye all the way to the semifinals.