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Before the big boys start playing in the WCC Tournament, Loyola Marymount and Portland have to face off to see who gets to be the eighth team in what amounts to the real bracket.
The WCC Tournament should be relatively interesting, as No. 1 Gonzaga tries to finish off a perfect conference season while fending off teams like Matthew Dellavedova's St. Mary's squad. But it won't get interesting for a few days, as the staggered start to the tournament means its tip-off Wednesday features the worst game the bracket has to offer.
6 p.m., Orleans Arena, Paradise, Nev., BYUtv: No. 8 Portland (4-12, 11-20, Kenpom ranking 254) vs. No. 9 Loyola Marymount (1-15, 8-22, Kenpom ranking 237)
It's basically a play-in game to be in a real eight-team bracket. Thrilling, right? The Pilots only got four wins all season in WCC play, but two of those came against the Lions, who have lost 14 in a row. Oddly enough, Ken Pomeroy's numbers give the edge to the dismal LMU squad. They're led by Anthony Ireland, who has the second-highest scoring total in the league at 20.6.
On Thursday, the tournament starts in earnest. As you can see in this full WCC Tournament bracket, No. 5 San Francisco takes on the winner of Portland/LMU, while No. 6 San Diego and No. 7 Pepperdine play. The winners of those games will take on Santa Clara and BYU, respectively. The winners of those games will take on Gonzaga and St. Mary's, leading into Monday's finale.
The format obviously sets up nicely for Gonzaga and St. Mary's: they've earned byes to the semifinals each of the past four years, and squared off in the finals each time.
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