It’s going to be a long, long week in Moraga, CA.
After losing to No. 1 Gonzaga 65-51 in the WCC title game on Monday, the Gaels are officially a bubble team, missing out on a chance to win the league’s automatic bid and ensure themselves a trip to the Big Dance.
And the problem?
St. Mary’s looks like they are headed for the wrong side of the bubble.
The Gaels are now 27-6 on the season, but their profile is entirely built around a win over Creighton, who currently sits at 25th in the RPI. Beyond that? St. Mary’s has a pair of wins over BYU and … a win over Harvard at home … umm … and 22 wins over teams ranked outside the RPI’s top 100.
Now, the Gaels are 19-3 since Christmas. Those three losses all came to the No. 1 team in the country, Gonzaga. That’s not bad, but the problem is that by going 0-3 against the Zags, St. Mary’s missed out on their only three chances to land another marquee win. They needed one. Their non-conference schedule is ranked 121st nationally, and they have two sub-100 losses (Pacific and Georgia Tech) and a loss at Northern Iowa.
Oh, and it looks like they may have just lost one of their starters, Jorden Page, to a knee injury.
Is that a strong enough to earn an at-large bid?
Well, let’s compare them to other bubble teams. Tennessee has four top 50 wins — including Florida — and nine top 100 wins. Kentucky has seven top 100 wins and has beaten Missouri and Florida since Nerlens Noel went down. Say what you will about those two teams, it’s tough to find a way to argue that St. Mary’s has a stronger profile.
And all the rest of those high-major bubble teams will have more chances to build on their resume.
I want the Gaels in the tournament just like I want Middle Tennessee State to go dancing. But just because a good mid-major team is ‘good’ doesn’t mean that the committee is going to cut them a break.
It’s all about the profile. The Gaels simply may not have enough on it.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.