Orleans hosts NCAA WCC conference tournament in Las Vegas

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Beginning this Friday, the Orleans Arena has the pleasure of hosting the WCC conference tournament in Las Vegas, which runs through Monday with the Championship game.

The WCC has one of the greatest formats for their tournament in that they don’t hurt their best team’s chances of making the NCAA’s by exposing them to losing throughout the bracket like others conferences do.

The WCC’s top teams of Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are seed No. 1 and No. 2 and will have byes through the first two rounds.

It’s a smart move by the WCC because they know they are likely only to have the automatic bid with no at-large bid coming on a yearly basis. So why not enhance the best teams’ chances of making the big dance and give good representation in the NCAA’s, rather than a team that has one great game in an upset, but is still weaker over the long haul.

For Saint Mary’s, they’re happy about being WCC co-champions for the first time since 1997, but they can’t be delighted with the way they closed out the season. After losing to Gonzaga on Thursday, their third loss in a row, St. Mary’s needed to beat Portland just to ensure a piece of the title.

This was a team that dominated all season long and had gained respect throughout the nation with wins over St. John’s, Mississippi State, Gonzaga and a one-point loss to BYU.

The Gaels demise began as they lost to San Diego on February 16 as an 18-point favorite. They then lost a tough home match to WAC power Utah State as a 5-point favorite, which carried over into last week’s home loss to the Zags. By losing those three games, Saint Mary’s RPI rating has plummeted to No. 55.

Gonzaga, meanwhile, is a team that is hot and moving up the RPI ranks sitting at No. 63, riding their six-game winning streak into the tournament. For bettors, they have also cashed tickets in five of those six games during the streak.

Look for the Zags to keep the streak going and win the tournament title game Monday night.

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