Kelly Olynyk

Gonzaga’s a No. 1 seed now, does that change by Selection Sunday?


The Zags did just about everything in their power to convince the Selection Committee that they deserve a No. 1 seed when the bracket are announced five days from now.

They steam-rolled their conference. They won their conference tournament in impressive fashion, making a statement in last night’s win over St. Mary’s. They beat good teams — Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor — in non-conference play. They didn’t suffer a single bad loss, and their only loss since early December came as the result of a botched out-of-bounds play that may or may not have involved a push-off and that may or may not have ended on a shot that wasn’t released in time.

Outside of figuring out a way to slow down Brandon Paul less than a month into the season, there literally is nothing else that Gonzaga could have done to better their current spot. It’s not their fault that St. Mary’s picked the wrong season to schedule poorly and suffer a couple bad losses. It’s not Gonzaga’s fault that BYU had a down season.

But will their profile be enough to get them into that top line?

Well, it all depends on what happens around the country over the course of Championship Week. Because like it or not, Gonzaga’s potential to be a No. 1 seed is not in their control.

Indiana and Duke are probably the two teams sitting in the best position right now. Indiana won the outright Big Ten title, an accomplishment that simply cannot be overlooked this season. Duke hasn’t lost a game with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, beating the likes of Louisville, Ohio State, Miami, VCU, Minnesota, Davidson and North Carolina. Those two teams are locks to be No. 1 seeds if they win their conference tournaments; they may be even if they lose in the first round.

Then you have to look at teams like Louisville and Georgetown in the Big East and Kansas in the Big 12. All three own a share of their league’s regular season title, and a run to the conference tournament title — especially if it includes wins over a couple of top seeds — may be enough to get any of the three into a No. 1 seed. And what about Michigan or Michigan State in the Big Ten? And Florida in the SEC? Even New Mexico, if they win the Mountain West tournament, will have an argument for being a No. 1 seed.

The point I’m trying to make is that this is completely out of Gonzaga’s hands right now.

But here’s the bigger question: does it even matter? Is whether Gonzaga’s a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed all that big of a deal?

What truly matters is that they end up in a Salt Lake pod in the West Region, where the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will be played in LA. If the WCC tournament in Vegas has taught us anything, it’s that the good folks of Spokane are willing to travel, and getting to Utah and Southern California is a lot easier than having to make it all the way across the country.

Anyone that watches Gonzaga play knows they are a national title contender whether their run starts from a No. 1 seed or a No. 2 seed.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Big South moving 2016 conference tournament

Cliff Ellis
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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.

The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.

It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.

Virginia Tech could redshirt sophomore guard

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Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.

The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.

Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.

“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”

It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.