1 Seed Gonzaga and 2 Seed BYU have been rewarded (sarcasm) with opportunities to play games against Santa Clara and LMU, respectively.
These games provide ZERO upside for both teams. Wins for Gonzaga and BYU might actually drive down their RPIs. Losses dramatically decrease odds at an at-large berth for both teams. Santa Clara has an RPI of 206, while LMU has an RPI of 179.
Reasons why our game against Santa Clara stinks:
RPI will go down, win or lose
Santa Clara contested the Zags both times this season, and for some reason, they match up well against us
Tough to beat any team three times in one season
Santa Clara has a game under their belt in that arena and are used to rims and shooting backdrop
Santa Clara gets a day of rest on Friday
Santa Clara gets to play loose; with everything to gain and nothing to lose
I surely hope that both Gonzaga and BYU win and make this a moot point, but I'm frustrated nonetheless. The top teams need to be rewarded for their regular conference season effort. At the very least, why don't they reseed so the highest remaining seed plays the top seed in the quarterfinals (i.e. Zags should be playing LMU) ???!!!???
The WCC conference does not benefit from this format, either. Each year, the WCC has 2-3 teams with a shot at an at-large. The more teams into the dance equals more money and exposure for the conference. Why not use a structure that gives your conference the best odds to get multiple bids? I will go so far as to say that if GU did not have this game against Santa Clara, they would be in no matter what (loss to SMC in semifinal does not hurt their profile enough to be left out). For all we know, the Zags could play very well on Saturday but still lose to a Santa Clara team that goes 10-15 from three. As a fan, I do not want to be sweating out selection Sunday under this scenario. Again, hopefully the Zags continue their positive play and make this a moot point!