This column would be exponentially easier to write after Thursday's West Coast Conference games, but since there is no time like the present for speculation and postulation, let's get into the WCC's tie-breaking and seeding scenarios for the league's title chase and upcoming tournament, then focus on the possibilities for BYU heading into the regular season's final week.
First things first, and that would be the WCC protocol for breaking ties. It reads as follows, and will serve as a handy reference moving forward:
Determination of Seeds/Tie-Breaker
(a) All conference teams will be seeded based on the order of the final regular season conference standings.
(b) If there is a tie in the standings, regardless of the number of teams involved, the following factors will be used, in this order, until all ties are broken:
(1) Head-to-head competition.
(2) Won-Loss record versus each league member (or the cumulative record of teams tied in a position) based on descending order of finish in the final conference standings.
(3) This comparison on a descending basis will continue until seeding is complete. If a tie still exists, the final deciding factor will be the teams' placement in the most recent Collegiate Basketball News Company RPI published by Jim Sukup.
(c) In the event of a tie involving more than two teams, the same tie-breaking process will be used until one team is removed from the deadlock.
(1) Once a team is removed from the tie, the remaining ties are broken by reverting back to the first step in the procedure (head-to-head competition).
(2) The procedure will then continue (comparing results on a descending basis), always reverting back to head-to-head competition to break remaining ties.
(d) If there is more than one tie in the standings, the tie which can be broken via the earliest tie-breaking step will be broken first.
(1) The review will begin with the lower tie.
(2) If the lower tie cannot be resolved under step one (4.b.1), the higher tie will be considered.
(3) If the higher tie cannot be resolved via step one, the lower tie will be reviewed under step two (4.b.2).
(4) If the lower tie cannot be resolved under step two, then the higher tie will be considered under step two.
(5) This process of alternating consideration will continue until one of the ties is resolved.
(6) Once a tie is resolved, the remaining tie will revert to step one of the system.
Here are the WCC Standings, with teams' remaining games, heading into Thursday/Saturday contests:
WCC Standings and Schedule
|Rank||Team||WCC Record||Remaining Games|
|1||Saint Mary's||12-2||at POR (Thu), at USF (Sat)|
|2||Gonzaga||11-3||v. BYU (Thu), at USD (Sat)|
|2||BYU||11-3||at GU (Thu), v. POR (Sat)|
|4||Loyola Marymount||10-4||v.USD (Thu), v. SCU (Sat)|
|5||San Francisco||8-7||v. SMC (Sat)|
|6||San Diego||6-8||at LMU (Thu), v. GU (Sat)|
|7||Portland||3-11||v. SMC (Thu), at BYU (Sat)|
|8||Pepperdine||3-12||at SCU (Thu)|
|9||Santa Clara||0-14||v. PEPP (Thu), at LMU (Sat)|
As of today, only the following standings placement and seeding positions have been established:
San Francisco will finish either alone in 5th place or tied for 5th place and is the 5 seed. USF would win a potential tie with San Diego by virtue of a season sweep over the Toreros.
San Diego will finish either alone in 6th place or tied for 5th place and is the 6 seed. As mentioned above, USD would lose any potential tie-breaker with USF.
Santa Clara will finish alone in 9th place and is the 9 seed. The 9 seed will face the 8 seed in the WCC Tournament's First Round "play-in" game on Wednesday, Feb. 29.
Portland needs one win in its remaining two games to secure the 7 seed. If Portland wins neither game this week, it will be the 8 seed, regardless of Pepperdine's result at Santa Clara. Since Portland and Pepperdine split their season series, Pepperdine's win over San Francisco would be the tie-breaker.
Pepperdine needs two Portland losses to secure the 7 seed. A Portland win over either Saint Mary's or BYU would give it the tie-breaker with Pepperdine, since SMC and BYU will finish ahead of USF.
Now, to the league's top tier, where things are much more complicated than they are in the bottom five.
Saint Mary's can finish as a 1, 2 or 3 seed, but not a 4.
Gonzaga can finish as a 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed.
BYU can finish as a 1, 2, 3 or 4 seed.
Loyola Marymount can finish as a 2, 3 or 4 seed, but not a 1.
How BYU will be a 1 seed (double-bye to the tournament semifinals):
Win twice, and have SMC lose twice. In that case, BYU would also be the outright conference champion, at 13-3.
How BYU will be a 2 seed (double-bye to the tournament semifinals):
Note: any loss to Gonzaga on Thursday eliminates BYU from contention for a 2 seed.
Win twice, while SMC loses once. In that case BYU, would also be a co-champion with SMC at 13-3 (SMC wins head-to-head seeding tie-break).
Win twice, while SMC also wins twice. In that case, 13-3 BYU would finish alone in second, while SMC would win the outright conference championship.
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland and finish tied for 2nd place with Gonzaga alone at 12-4 (BYU wins head-to-head tie-break).
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland and finish tied for 2nd place with GU and LMU alone at 12-4 (BYU would be 3-1 in composite, GU would be 2-2 and LMU would be 1-3).
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland and finish in a three-way 1st place tie with SMC and Gonzaga alone at 12-4 (BYU and SMC would be 3-1 in composite, GU would be 1-3; SMC wins head-to-head tie-break with BYU).
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland and finish in a four-way 1st place tie with SMC, GU and LMU at 12-4. (SMC would be 4-2 in composite, BYU and GU would be 3-3, and LMU would be 2-4. BYU would win tie-break with GU on head-to-head).
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland, have Gonzaga lose twice and LMU lose at least once, leaving BYU alone in second place at 12-4.
How BYU will be a 3 seed (single-bye to the tournament quarterfinals):
Note: a win over Gonzaga will assure BYU of no lower than a 3 seed.
Beat Gonzaga, lose to Portland, and finish tied for 2nd place at 12-4 with LMU alone, behind 14-2 or 13-3 SMC and ahead of 11-5 GU (LMU wins 2 seed and tie-break on win over SMC).
Lose to Gonzaga, beat Portland, finish in a three-way 1st place tie with SMC and GU alone at 12-4 (SMC would be 3-1 in composite, GU would be 2-2 and BYU would be 1-3).
Lose to Gonzaga, beat Portland and finish in a three-way for 2nd place with with GU and LMU at 12-4 (GU would be 3-1 in composite, BYU would be 2-2 and LMU would be 1-3).
Lose to Gonzaga, beat Portland, finish tied for 3rd place with LMU alone at 12-4, with SMC finishing tied with GU at 13-3, SMC having won at POR, lost at USF (BYU would win tie-break on split with GU, which would win tie-break with SMC on RPI)
Lose twice, LMU loses twice, leaving BYU alone in 3rd place.
Lose twice, LMU beats either and only USD or SCU; finish tied with LMU at 11-5 and have GU finish ahead of SMC (BYU would win tie-break on split with GU).
Lose twice, LMU loses to USD, beats SCU; finish tied with LMU at 11-5 and have GU finish tied with SMC (BYU would win tie-break on sweep of USD).
How BYU will be a 4 seed (single-bye to the tournament quarterfinals):
Lose to Gonzaga, beat Portland and finish in a four-way 1st place tie with SMC, GU and LMU at 12-4. (SMC and GU would be 4-2 in composite, while BYU and LMU would be 2-4. LMU would win tie-break with BYU on split with SMC, after SMC won tie-break with GU on Zags' projected-scenario loss to USD).
Lose to Gonzaga, beat Portland, finish tied for 3rd place with LMU alone at 12-4, with SMC finishing ahead of or tied with GU, SMC having lost at POR, won at USF (LMU would win tie-break on split with SMC, which would win tie-break with GU on sweep of USF).
Lose twice, LMU wins twice.
Lose twice, LMU beats either and only USD or SCU; finish tied with LMU at 11-5 and have SMC finish ahead of GU (LMU wins tie-break on split with SMC).
Lose twice, LMU beats USD, loses to SCU; finish tied with LMU at 11-5 and have GU finish tied with or behind SMC (LMU would win tie-break on split with SMC or sweep of POR).
I have covered most if not every possible scenario above. The important tie-breaking points, relative to BYU:
1) BYU loses any head-to-head tie with Saint Mary's.
2) With a win on Thursday, BYU would win any head-to-head tie with Gonzaga, win any three-way tie involving GU and LMU, and be seeded second in any four-way first-place tie involving SMC, GU and LMU.
3) In a head-to-head tie with LMU, BYU will lose a tie-break if the first tie-breaker is record against SMC, as BYU was swept by the Gaels and LMU gained the split.
4) With a win on Thursday, BYU would win any tie-break with LMU, if the tie-breaker is record against GU and SMC in a tied position.