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Bracketology 2017: Gonzaga’s No. 1 seed is at stake vs. St. Mary’s in the WCC title game

If the Bulldogs defeat Saint Mary’s for a third time, they should lock up the top spot in the West Regional.

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs Santa Clara Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There could not be more of a contrast between the Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s West Coast Conference tournament title game and the finales in three other leagues that will also hand out auto-bids. With the right combination of results in the Horizon League, Northeast Conference, and Summit League, we might have a good idea of the identities of half of this year’s 16 line. We might also have a good grasp of which 16 seed will be destined to play in the First Four in Dayton, particularly if the Horizon’s 10 seed, the 11-23 Milwaukee Panthers, defeat the Northern Kentucky Norse — a team that’s aiming to make the NCAA tournament in its first season of eligibility after moving up from Division II.

However, a Bulldog loss to the Gaels in Las Vegas would open the door for the champion of another conference tournament scheduled for the Strip later in the week — the Pac-12. And such a result must be considered a possibility after Gonzaga struggled to get past the fourth-seeded Santa Clara Broncos in last night’s semifinals, while Saint Mary’s routed BYU by 31 (a loss that extinguished the Cougars’ very faint at-large hopes).

After today’s full bracket and rundown, I’ll take a look at the three teams that clinched bids on Monday night and Tuesday’s ACC tournament first round. The cut line picture didn’t change after last night, so check out yesterday’s projection for capsules on the last four in and first four out.

1. Midwest (Left) and 2. East (Right)

Kansas City (Thu/Sat) New York (Fri/Sun)
Kansas City (Thu/Sat) New York (Fri/Sun)
Tulsa (Fri/Sun) Buffalo (Thu/Sat)
1. Kansas (Big 12) 1. Villanova (Big East)
16. JACKSONVILLE STATE (OVC) 16. Mt. St. Mary's/North Dakota
8. Virginia Tech 8. Miami
9. Arkansas 9. Michigan State
Milwaukee (Thu/Sat) Orlando (Thu/Sat)
5. Notre Dame 5. West Virginia
12. Vanderbilt/Illinois State 12. Nevada (MW)
4. Purdue (Big Ten) 4. Florida
13. Bucknell (Patriot) 13. Vermont (AmEast)
Sacramento (Fri/Sun) Orlando (Thu/Sat)
6. Saint Mary's 6. Maryland
11. Middle Tennessee (C-USA) 11. Seton Hall
3. UCLA 3. Florida State
14. WINTHROP (Big South) 14. FLA GULF COAST (ASUN)
Indianapolis (Fri/Sun) Tulsa (Fri/Sun)
7. Creighton 7. Dayton (A 10)
10. VCU 10. Providence
2. Louisville 2. Baylor
15. Omaha (Summit) 15. Northern Kentucky (Horizon)

4. West (Left) and 3. South (Right)

San José (Thu/Sat) Memphis (Fri/Sun)
San José (Thu/Sat) Memphis (Fri/Sun)
Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat) Greenville (Fri/Sun)
1. Gonzaga (WCC) 1. North Carolina (ACC)
16. UC Irvine (Big West) 16. New Orleans/N.C. Central
8. Oklahoma State 8. Michigan
9. Northwestern 9. WICHITA STATE (MVC)
Buffalo (Thu/Sat) Salt Lake City (Thu/Sat)
5. Minnesota 5. Cincinnati
12. UNC WILMINGTON (CAA) 12. UT Arlington (Sun Belt)
4. Virginia 4. Arizona
13. Princeton (Ivy) 13. E. TENNESSEE ST. (SoCon)
Greenville (Fri/Sun) Milwaukee (Thu/Sat)
6. SMU (American) 6. Iowa State
11. Xavier/Syracuse 11. USC
3. Duke 3. Butler
14. Cal State Bakersfield (WAC) 14. Akron (MAC)
Sacramento (Fri/Sun) Indianapolis (Fri/Sun)
7. South Carolina 7. Wisconsin
10. Marquette 10. Wake Forest
2. Oregon (Pac-12) 2. Kentucky (SEC)
15. Texas Southern (SWAC) 15. IONA (MAAC)

First Four

To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
To Buffalo (Tue.) To Milwaukee (Tue.) To Greenville (Wed.) To Greenville (Wed.)
16. Mount St. Mary's (NEC) 12. Vanderbilt 16. New Orleans (Southland) 11. Xavier
16. North Dakota (Big Sky) 12. Illinois State 16. N.C. Central (MEAC) 11. Syracuse

Rundown

BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
BIDS BY CONFERENCE AVOIDING DAYTON ARRIVALS DEPARTURES
ACC: 10 VCU (38) ETSU South Dakota
Big East: 7 Providence (39) Omaha UNC Greensboro
Big Ten: 7 Seton Hall (40)
Big 12: 5 USC (41)
SEC: 5 LAST FOUR IN
Pac-12: 4 Xavier (43)
A 10: 2 Syracuse (44)
American: 2 Vanderbilt (46)
MVC: 2 Illinois State (47)
WCC: 2 FIRST FOUR OUT
One-Bid: 22 Illinois
Rhode Island
Iowa
Kansas State
NEXT SEVEN OUT
California
Georgia Tech
Monmouth
Ole Miss
Indiana
Clemson
Georgia

Two of Monday’s auto-bid winners are definitely names you’ll want to keep an eye on when making your picks next week. The CAA champion UNC Wilmington Seahawks are making their second straight trip, and you might remember Kevin Keatts’ squad giving the Duke Blue Devils a fight in their 4-vs.-13 matchup in Providence. After defeating the College of Charleston Cougars in last night’s final in North Charleston, S.C., UNCW — which returned most of last season’s squad — looks likely to earn a 12 seed, though an 11 is possible. Keep a particular eye on forward Devontae Cacok, who connects on a mind-boggling 79.9 percent of his field goal attempts.

Meanwhile, the Southern Conference tournament-winning East Tennessee State Buccaneers may have been seeded third in that event, but of the trio of squads that tied for the league’s regular season crown, Steve Forbes’ outfit always looked to be the one most likely to put a scare into a higher seed in the Big Dance. ETSU took out fellow tri-champ UNC Greensboro last night in a game that got tight late in Asheville, N.C. The Bucs’ defense ranks 40th in KenPom, and while their offense isn’t quite as efficient at 110th, they have plenty of sharpshooters to test even the sturdiest defense. ETSU is likely to be a 13 seed.

Now defense is definitely not the strong suit of the MAAC champion Iona Gaels, but Tim Cluess’ squad returns for the second year in a row (and fourth time in six) after winning an overtime thriller over Siena in a game played in the Saints’ home arena in Albany. Look for the Gaels to end up as a 15 seed, with an outside shot at a 14, and be sure to spend a little bit of time watching them run and gun next Thursday or Friday.

While there were no changes to the bubble picture after Monday’s action, that changes today as all three ACC tournament first-round games have the potential to shake things up. The second of the day’s three tips, Wake Forest‘s matchup with last-place Boston College, is the most important as the Demon Deacons will want to avoid picking up a very late bad loss to the RPI’s 212th-ranked team. Otherwise, Clemson (against N.C. State) and Georgia Tech (against Pitt) will drop off the board outright with losses in Brooklyn.

Barring a Gonzaga loss tonight, look for tomorrow morning’s update to be another relatively short one. But with some important matchups in the ACC, Big East, and Pac-12 later scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday’s could see some noteworthy changes.