With the Pacific men’s basketball program not eligible to compete in this year’s WCC tournament after the school self-imposed a postseason ban as a result of an ongoing NCAA investigation, the conference had to make a quick revision to its bracket for the event.
Friday the WCC released the updated bracket, with the first round scheduled for Friday, March 4 now consisting of just one game. The eight and nine-seeds will play that night, with the winner advancing to take on the top seed in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. All four quarterfinals will be played Saturday, March 5, with the semifinals scheduled for Monday, March 7 and the title game Tuesday, March 8.
All games will be played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, which has hosted the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments every year since 2009.
The West Coast Conference tournament in March will be a nine-team affair, as the University of the Pacific announced Thursday that it was self-imposing a postseason ban for this season. This is one of the penalties the school handed down to its men’s basketball program in response to an ongoing NCAA investigation into academic misconduct.
The Tigers are currently playing without head coach Ron Verlin and assistant Dwight Young, as both were suspended by the school December 11. The school did not announce the length of the suspensions, so it remains to be seen when the coaches will return to their respective positions.
Pacific also announced that the program will lose a total of six scholarships over the next three years, and there will be limitations on recruiting as well.
“This is a difficult decision to make, but it seems clear that Level I violations have occurred, and thus immediate actions by the university are warranted,” Pacific Athletic Director Ted Leland said in the release. “Taking these actions at this stage demonstrates our steadfast commitment to integrity and fair play, and serves as a crucial step for moving the program forward.”
The WCC has yet to put together a bracket for the 2016 conference tournament. Last season seeds seven through ten played in the first round of the tournament, with the winners advancing into the quarterfinals to take on the top two seeds (1 vs. 8/9 winner; 2 vs. 7/10 winner). With that being the case, it would be easiest for there to be just one first round game (8-seed vs. 9-seed) with the winner taking on the top seed in the quarters.
The walk-on experience isn’t an easy one as those players do everything their teammates on scholarship do, with little more than a few minutes towards the end of blowouts serving as a reward. But every year many continue to work as hard as they can, pushing their teammates to succeed with the hope of at some point earning a scholarship themselves.
For Pepperdine senior forward Jake Johnson, that goal became a reality on Wednesday. Head coach Marty Wilson announced to the team that Johnson would be placed on scholarship, with Johnson’s teammates mobbing him shortly thereafter. Walk-ons may not see the court much in games, but the work they do in practices to help prepare for games is invaluable.
Above is video of Wilson informing the team at practice that Johnson would be on scholarship for the remainder of the season. Johnson’s played a total of 14 minutes in two games this season, averaging two points and one rebound per game.
h/t Bleacher Report