Austin-Miller-barely-gets-in-safely-after-not-sliding

What in the West Coast Conference is Going On?

After a three-year hiatus, the West Coast Conference re-established an end-of-the-season battle for supremacy. From 1999 to 2005, the West Coast Conference featured a championship series, pitting the two division champions against one another.

Prior to the 2006 season, with the comings and goings of conference realignment, the conference returned to a single division format, but kept the championship series until 2009.

For three years there was no championship series, but the West Coast Conference re-established a conference tournament at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif. last year. The San Diego Toreros won the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, defeating San Francisco, 2-0, in the finale.

But this year neither team  may make the four-squad face-off. San Francisco has already been eliminated with an 11-16 mark and San Diego sits 2.5 games back of first place Pepperdine. The Toreros have already finished their regular-season schedule with a 34-20 record and currently sit in fourth place with a 16-11 mark in conference.

Will that be enough to garner the Toreros a trip to Northern California next weekend? This weekend, San Diego will watch W.tv as three big series determine the outcome of the conference race and who will battle for the title next weekend:

Pepperdine (17-7) at Gonzaga (15-9)

Loyola Marymount (15-9) at Pacific (14-10)

St. Mary’s (eliminated) at Santa Clara (14-10)

Pepperdine, looking for its second title in three years, currently holds the top spot in conference with a 17-7 mark. The Waves hold the cards and a two-game lead in the conference. They control their own destiny. They travel to Spokane to take on Gonzaga, who has won 13 of 17 games in taking its last five series.

Sitting two games back, Gonzaga still has a shot at the regular season title should it sweep Pepperdine. Of course, the Bulldogs need some help from Pacific because the Tigers’ opponent, Loyola Marymount, also has a shot at the regular season crown.

Pacific is currently tied for fifth with Santa Clara with a 14-10 conference mark. If the Tigers want to be playing rather than watching the WCC Tournament in their hometown, they will have to win the series against LMU.

Likewise, Santa Clara is in a situation where if it loses its series against St. Mary’s, the offseason will begin on Monday.

With five of the six teams vying for the four WCC Tournament spots playing and four of them facing off against one another, there is room for a ton of movement.

In fact, if my calculations are correct (of which when I contacted the West Coast Conference office, they couldn’t confirm because of how complex the situation is), there are 48 different outcomes from the three series involved that would affect the standings. There are also 29 different arrangements the standings could finish.

So how does your favorite team win the regular season conference title or get into the WCC Tournament?

Here’s the breakdown:

1. Pepperdine (17-7)

How can the Waves win the conference?

    1. Win at least 2/3 at Gonzaga.
    2. Win 1/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific wins at least 1/3 vs. LMU.

How do the Waves finish second?

    1. Win 1/3 at Gonzaga AND LMU sweeps Pacific.
    2. If get swept at Gonzaga AND Pacific wins at least 1/3 vs. LMU AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.

The Waves can also slip to the No. 3 seed in the WCC Tournament if they:

    1. Get swept at Gonzaga AND LMU sweeps Pacific.
    2. Get swept at Gonzaga AND LMU wins 2/3 vs. Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 1/3 at Santa Clara.

The Waves can not finish below third.

T2. Loyola Marymount (15-9)

The Lions can win the conference? How?

    1. Sweep Pacific AND Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine.

What transpires for the Lions to finish second?

    1. Sweep Pacific AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 vs. Gonzaga.
    2. Win 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins 1/3 at Santa Clara.
    3. Win 2/3 at Pacific AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine.

The Lions have the most possible different conclusions linking them to the No. 3 seed:

    1. Win 2/3 at Pacific AND Gonzaga sweeps Pepperdine AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.
    2. Win 2/3 at Pacific AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.
    3. Win 1/3 at Pacific AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

But the Lions can also slip to No. 4 and also potentially create the crazy FIVE-WAY TIE for second place. Here’s how they could end up the No. 4 seed:

    1. Win 1/3 at Pacific AND Pepperdine wins 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s (Five-Way Tie if SC wins 2/3).
    2. Win 1/3 at Pacific AND  Pepperdine sweeps Gonzaga AND  Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s.
    3. Win 1/3 at Pacific AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    4. And even if LMU is swept, there’s still a slim window to slip in WCC Tournament, if Pepperdine also sweeps Gonzaga AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

But you’re saying that Loyola Marymount could also miss the WCC Tournament?

    1. If LMU gets swept by Pacific, the Lions can only get in if Gonzaga gets swept AND Santa Clara drops the series to St. Mary’s.
    2. Also, if LMU wins 1/3 at Pacific AND Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s…the Lions would again be out.

T2. Gonzaga (15-9)

It’s pretty simple for the Bulldogs. Win one game and essentially you get in (though there is one tiebreaker possibility where they would still be out). Gonzaga has a shot at the conference title as well, so how does it take home the title?

    1. Sweep Pepperdine AND Pacific wins at least 1/3 vs. LMU.

But the Bulldogs will finish second if they:

    1. Sweep Pepperdine AND LMU sweeps Pacific.
    2. Win at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific wins at least 2/3 vs. LMU.

How does Gonzaga end up finishing with the No. 3 seed?

    1. Win 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins at least 2/3 at Pacific.

But how would the Bulldogs slip to the No. 4 slot?

    1. Lose at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU sweeps Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    2. Lose 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific sweeps LMU AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    3. Lose 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    4. Get swept vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

Could the Bulldogs be left out in the cold, missing the WCC Tournament? Yes. How?

    1. Lose 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins at least 2/3 at Pacific AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s.
    2. Get swept vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins at least 1/3 at Pacific AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s.

4. San Diego (16-11)

Watching from home with their schedule already finished, how can the Toreros get new life in the WCC Tournament? Well, they’ll need some help. The Toreros essentially need two series losses between Gonzaga, Pacific and Santa Clara. Though they could also sneak in a couple other ways.

Being two games back in the win column, San Diego can’t make up any ground, so it has no shot at the regular season conference crown. The Toreros also can’t finish second.

So how do they wind up gaining a spot and getting the No. 3 seed?

    1. Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND LMU wins at least 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    2. Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific sweeps LMU AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

San Diego could also wind up staying as the No. 4 seed:

    1. Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins at least 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    2. Gonzaga sweeps Pepperdine AND LMU wins 2/3 at Pacific AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    3. Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific sweeps LMU AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    4. Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific wins 2/3 vs. LMU AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    5. Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND LMU wins at least 2/3 at Pacific AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s.
    6. Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific sweeps LMU AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s.

T5. Santa Clara (14-10)

Still with me? Coolie-O. So what do the Broncos need to do? Win a series against a squad that hasn’t won a squad since March. It’s that simple for Santa Clara.

But how does the seeding potentially play out? Santa Clara doesn’t have a shot at the conference title, but can move up to the No. 2 seed with a strong weekend. Here’s how the Broncos get there:

    1. Sweep St. Mary’s AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific wins at least 2/3 vs. LMU.
    2. Win at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific wins 2/3 vs. LMU.

The Broncos have more scenarios of ending up with the No. 3 seed. How does that happen?

    1. Sweep St. Mary’s AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific sweeps LMU.
    2. Win at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND LMU sweeps Pacific.
    3. Win at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND  Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific wins 2/3 vs. LMU.
    4. Win 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND LMU wins 2/3 at Pacific.
    5. Win 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Pacific sweeps LMU.

But how would Santa Clara wind up with the No. 4 seed?

    1. Win at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND  Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND LMU wins 2/3 at Pacific.
    2. Win at least 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND  Gonzaga sweeps Pepperdine AND Pacific sweeps LMU.
    3. Win 2/3 vs. St. Mary’s AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Pacific sweeps LMU.

What happens if the Broncos lose the series to St. Mary’s?

    1. THEY GONE!

T5. Pacific (14-10)

Like Santa Clara, Pacific can’t win the conference, but the Tigers have the simple task of winning a series.

The Tigers can move all the way to the No. 2 seed? Yes, if they:

    1. Sweep LMU AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND St. Mary’s wins at least 1/3 at Santa Clara.
    2. Sweep LMU AND Gonzaga sweeps Pepperdine AND St. Mary’s wins at least 1/3 at Santa Clara.
    3. Win 2/3 vs. LMU AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

Pacific has a much greater statistical probablility of ending up in the No. 3 slot, if they:

    1. Sweep LMU AND Gonzaga sweeps Pepperdine AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.
    2. Sweep LMU AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.
    3. Sweep LMU AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.
    4. Win 2/3 vs. LMU AND Pepperdine wins at least 2/3 at Gonzaga AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 at St. Mary’s.
    5. Win 2/3 vs. LMU AND Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND St. Mary’s wins at least 2/3 at Santa Clara.

Could the Tigers also end up in fourth? Indeed…

    1. Sweep LMU AND Gonzaga wins 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Santa Clara sweeps St. Mary’s.
    2. Win 2/3 vs. LMU AND Gonzaga wins at least 2/3 vs. Pepperdine AND Santa Clara wins at least 2/3 at St. Mary’s.

And if the Tigers lose the series to Loyola Marymount?

    1. THEY GONE!

***If you want to check out the entire breakdown of the scenarios, my WCC Scenarios matrix with all the relevant outcomes to the three big series is available to view.