A season unlike any other in college basketball might get even crazier as it rounds into March. With less than a month to go until the postseason, No. 1 Gonzaga might choose to opt out of their conference tournament.
According to a report from John Canzano, Mark Few’s Bulldogs are currently weighing their options and may not play for a West Coast Conference title in the second week of March. Gonzaga has locked up the No. 1 seed in the WCC and clinched the regular season crown, meaning the powerhouse program wouldn’t have much to play for.
The Bulldogs are a lock for the NCAA Tournament this year, so suiting up for their conference tournament would only bring negative consequences. Canzano accurately cited “risk of injury, a bad loss, or infection” as possible outcomes for a Gonzaga appearance at Orleans Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
Few’s squad isn’t the only team in the conference considering an opt-out. The BYU Cougars, who currently boast a strong NCAA tournament resume, have also thought about removing themselves from the WCC bracket.
Gonzaga and BYU are weighing whether they should opt out of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament.
Nothing in it for either program, except risk of injury, bad loss and infection. They’re both NCAA Tournament bound regardless. WCC ADs are talking about this.
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) February 16, 2021
In a normal year, an unintended consequence of Gonzaga and BYU opting out of the WCC tournament would mean that a team with a worse resume could earn an automatic bid to March Madness. However, the NCAA recently announced that each conference will get to choose whether to award its auto-bid to the regular season champion or its postseason tournament winner.
Even so, the WCC would benefit from getting a third team into NCAA Tournament, so a decision would need to be made if Gonzaga and BYU go through with opting out. According to Canzano, conference athletic director’s are having discussions about the possibility.
If Gonzaga does opt-out of the WCC tournament, fans will still get a chance to see the No. 1 team in the country in late March. Few’s Bulldogs have been dominant in 2020 and will be an NCAA Tournament favorite when the bracket is revealed.