Gonzaga nearly found itself out of the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals for the first time since 1997, surviving a spirited bid by Santa Clara to win, 77-75, Saturday night in Las Vegas. For that, they get the title of the inaugural Northwest 11, in what wasn’t a very memorable year for college hoops in our region.
If they had lost, the Zags could have imperiled a 16th straight trip to the NCAA tournament, since Santa Clara had a 212 RPI computer ranking (which is hard to believe if you watch the Broncos play, at least against Gonzaga). But now, the worst they can do is drop a game Monday night to St. Mary’s, which wouldn’t be a bad loss.
Herewith, our final rankings:
1. Gonzaga (26-6) . . . Gets St. Mary’s again in WCC, but this time, in semis
2. Oregon (22-8) . . . Ducks peaking at the right time
3. Washington (17-14) . . . Draws dangerous Utah in Pac-12 tournament opener
4. Boise State (19-12) . . . Ouch: Closed with overtime losses to Nevada, Air Force
5. Oregon State (16-14) . . . Rubber game with Ducks in the league tournament
6. Portland (15-16) . . . Season went splat with WCC tourney loss to LMU
7. Washington State (10-20) . . . Hmm: Lose to USC and beat UCLA . . .
8. Portland State (16-13) . . . Win over Weber pushes Vikings into Big Sky tourney
9. Idaho (14-17) . . . At least Vandals closed well, sweeping on road
10. Eastern Washington (15-16) . . . Near-miss vs. Weber spells end of season
11. Seattle U. (13-16) . . . Finishes in three-way tie for last in WAC