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Gonzaga win WCC, finishes 32-1 as attention turns to No. 1 seed

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Gonzaga did their job.

The No. 1 seed in the WCC tournament and the No. 4 team in the country took care of business against No. 19 Saint Mary’s, picking up their third straight double-digit win over the Gaels in a 74-56 win in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

And with that, Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament résumé is complete.

They are 32-1 on the season. They went 20-1 against WCC opponents, including posting a 3-0 mark against the Gaels. They have a win over Arizona. They have a win over Florida. They have a win over Iowa State. All three of those wins came on a neutral floor. Considering what Gonzaga is stacked up against in terms of their ability to schedule, and factoring in that Tennessee, Washington and San Diego State all put together seasons that were different levels of disappointing, it’s about as impressive of a profile as the Zags are capable of putting together.

So now they wait.

As of today, the Zags are a No. 1 seed in the latest NBC Sports Bracketology, but like a golfer in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead while Jordan Speith just started on the back-nine, the Zags can do nothing but sit back and watch how this plays out.

Because there are three teams in the Pac-12 gunning for that No. 1 spot.

That’s really all the Zags have to worry about at this point. If one of Oregon, Arizona or UCLA puts together a run to the Pac-12 tournament title, they’ll have a pretty strong argument for being the No. 1 seed out West. All three have similar enough résumés that there really isn’t one specific team that they have to worry about. UCLA has the best set of wins, including road wins against Kentucky and Arizona and five total top ten wins if they beat Arizona and Oregon en route to the title, but their non-conference schedule was weak. Oregon has the most top 100 wins and a share of the league title, but they struggled early without Dillon Brooks and lost to Colorado with him. Arizona has no bad losses and played a good schedule, but they have the fewest elite wins of the three.

And there’s nothing else Gonzaga can do beyond rooting as hard as they can that those teams lose.

But here’s the thing: Gonzaga is guaranteed a top two seed in the West. However you slice it, they are going to be in a good spot to get to a Final Four.

The more interesting case in the WCC might be the seeding of Saint Mary’s. The Gaels ranked 19th nationally and 19th in the RPI. They are 28-4 on the season and, by just about any metric available, are a really good team. Case in point: KenPom has them 12th nationally, right behind Baylor and in front of the likes of Duke, UCLA and Oregon.

They haven’t really done much to prove that on the floor, though. They won at Dayton, which is probably more impressive than you realize, and they beat the MWC champs Nevada in the season-opener. They have a win at Stanford — meh — and smothered everyone in the WCC not named Gonzaga. But they were also smoked by the Zags all three times they played them and also took a home loss to UT-Arlington.

Going 28-1 against everyone not named Gonzaga is impressive, but they are like Gonzaga Light in the sense that there isn’t all that much there to like.

What this could mean is that the Gaels fall all the way to the 8-9 game, which would put whichever No. 1 seed they draw into a tough situation.

There are going to be a number of really interesting seeding decisions for the committee to make — Wichita State and SMU among them — but Saint Mary’s may top that list, even with Gonzaga in the picture.

VIDEO: Watch UConn’s Katie Samuelson do something no NBA player has ever done

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In Monday’s AAC tournament title game, No. 1 seed UConn won their 8 millionth straight game (it’s actually 107 straight) 100-44 over No. 3 seed South Florida.

The star of the night?

Katie Samuelson, who had 40 points and hit all ten of the threes she attempted in the win. She had 29 points and seven threes at the half. USF had 23 points and four threes.

The NBA record for most threes made in a game without a miss is nine, which was done by Latrell Spreewell and former UConn Husky Ben Gordon on two different occasions.

 

Introducing Cinderella: Mount St. Marys is headed to the NCAA tournament

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Conference: NEC

Coach: Jamion Christian

Record: 19-15, 15-3 (1st)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 215
RPI: 164
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: Mount St. Mary’s is very likely going to end up being a No. 16 seed. The hope is that they avoid the play-in game.

Names you need to know: Elijah Long is the best player on the Mount’s roster, averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 boards and 4.3 assists, but the guy that everyone is going to fall in love with on this team is Junior Robinson. A 5-foot-5 point guard, Robinson averaged 13.8 points on the season and 20.7 points in the NEC tournament.

Stats you need to know: The Mountaineers were the second-best defensive team in the NEC this season on the strength of their ability to force turnovers; they were 24th nationally in defensive turnover rate. They’re not bid and they don’t really rebound, but they can make you pay if you are not careful with the ball.

Big wins, bad losses: The Mount tested themselves during the non-conference portion of their schedule, playing their first eight games on the road, but the only one of those games that they won came at George Mason.

How’d they get here?: The Mountaineers took advantage of the fact that the NEC does the league tournament the right way. They played three home games during the NEC tournament, won all three and advanced to the NCAA tournament as a result.

Outlook: Not good. Mount St. Mary’s is all-but-assured of having to play, in a best-case scenario, a No. 2 seed in the tournament, and there have been just eight No. 15 seeds that have won a first round game. That said, four of those eight have come in the last five years, including Middle Tennessee State last year and Florida-Gulf Coast in 2013. So it’s possible. But the Mount will need to get lucky.

How do I know you?: If you are a real hoop-head, you know the name Jim Phelan, the legendary Mount St. Mary’s head coach that spent 49 years in Emmittsburg, Maryland, and coached the Mountaineers to 830 wins.

Bubble Banter: Three tickets punched, ACC tournament’s bubble teams in action

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The most recent NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here

There will be four tickets punched tonight, including in the WCC, where No. 4 Gonzaga will be squaring off with No. 19 Saint Mary’s for the right to claim a No. 1 seed in the West Region. 

WINNERS

Wake Forest (RPI: 28, KenPom: 30, No. 11 seed): The Demon Deacons won a game that they had to win, picking off Boston College in their ACC tournament opener. For my money, if Wake can get past Virginia Tech in the second round on Wednesday, they’ll be in the NCAA tournament. They still have a chance if they lose, it will just be a long, long week of waiting.

Georgia Tech (RPI: 93, KenPom: 80, next four out): The Yellow Jackets needed to win at least two, and probably three, games if they were really going to have a chance to get an at-large bid to the tournament. They lost to Pitt in the opener. Josh Pastner did a fabulous job this season, but his year is going to end in the NIT.

Cleveland State, Gary Waters to part ways

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Cleveland State and head coach Gary Waters are expected to part ways, sources told NBC Sports.

An announcement could come as soon as today.

Waters had been the head coach with the Vikings for the past 11 seasons, having reached the 2009 NCAA tournament and three NITs in his first six seasons with the program. But after averaging 20 wins in his first nine seasons with the Vikings, Waters’ program was decimated by transfers. Bryn Forbes left for Michigan State after the 2014 season. Trey Lewis (Louisville) and Anton Grady (Wichita State) transferred prior to the 2015-16 season to play their final season at a bigger school. As a result, Waters spent the last two years failing to rebuild his team, finishing 18-45 over that stretch.

Prior to Cleveland State, Waters was the head coach at Kent State and Rutgers.

Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum retires

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Youngstown State announced on Tuesday afternoon that head coach Jerry Slocum will be retiring after 42 seasons as a head coach.

“After 42 years of head coaching, I have been blessed and honored to have coached so many great young men and the privilege of working alongside some great assistant coaches,” Slocum said in a release. “At this time I’m announcing that I’m retiring from coaching and have loved every moment that I was called ‘Coach’.”

Slocum spent 30 years coaching at Nyack, Geneva and and Gannon before finally landing a Division I gig in 2005. He spent 12 years with the Penguins, going 142-232 in those 12 years. Slocum won 723 games in his career.