The West Coast Conference officially released Sunday the bracket, with seedings and schedule, for this week’s tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas that included the Ken Pomeroy Conference Adjusted Winning Percentage.

As expected, BYU (21-9, 9-6) will be the No. 5 seed. Going into the season, the Cougars had never had a seed worse than No. 3 in the WCC Tournament.

BYU will face the winner of Thursday’s first-round matchup between No. 8 Loyola Marymount and No. 9 Pacific in a second-round game Friday (7 p.m., MST, BYUtv) at Orleans Arena.

The Lions (4-13) actually finished behind the Tigers (4-11) in the standings, but LMU earned the better seed due to the adjusted winning percentage algorithm.

San Francisco (10-6), which sits at No. 28 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, received the No. 4 seed, behind No. 3 Santa Clara (10-5), according to the adjusted winning percentage.

The Broncos are No. 72 in the NET.

That’s good news for the Cougars because it means a potential showdown with the Dons in Saturday’s quarterfinals. That would be a Quad 1 game for both BYU and USF.

The winner would meet top-ranked Gonzaga, which lost its only WCC game Saturday night to Saint Mary’s, in next Monday’s semifinals.  

Meanwhile, BYU coach Mark Pope and his staff have been talking with more than 20 teams this past week about the possibility of scheduling a road game that would offer the Cougars an opportunity to play a Quad 1 contest to potentially bolster their NCAA Tournament resume. 

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But with that Quad 1 game possibility in the tournament against USF, will BYU continue to seek a non-conference Quad 1 road game before then? That would replace the game at Portland that was scheduled for New Year’s Day. 

The Pilots had to postpone that game due to COVID issues within their program and it was not rescheduled.

After the Cougars’ 75-59 victory over Pepperdine Saturday on Senior Night, Pope and the coaching staff said they would keep looking into possibilities for potential non-conference Quad 1 games. 

But there’s a lot to consider. 

If a game a considerable distance away became available, such as against a team like Loyola Chicago, which might also be looking for a resume-building game, would it be worth it to travel that far just days before playing Friday night in Las Vegas? 

The Cougars might run the risk of becoming worn out before the tournament even begins.

Pope wants to do everything in his power to give his team the best opportunity to put it in position to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. 

“Those conversations have gone in earnest the last three to four days. We’ve reached out to about 20 different teams. Decisions on that will probably be made after everybody gets through the weekend,” Pope said last Tuesday.

“We have some teams that could play (next) Tuesday. A lot that could play Wednesday. Most of them we’d need to be on the road to make it a Quad 1. ... It would be a resume-builder for the winner. That’s the idea … All that is in limbo right now. We’re just trying to evaluate. We’re really aggressively, actively pursuing potential opportunities. So much would have to come together to make it happen. That’s something we’re talking about.”

What do his players think of scheduling another game before the tournament?

“We trust our coaches to make the right call. They’re figuring games out, whether we’re going to play or if we’re not going to play,” guard Alex Barcello said Saturday night.

“But we’re going to be prepared, we’re going to be ready, and we’re going to know as soon as we can if a team wants to play us. We’re ready for whatever. We’re ready to fight. We’ve got a lot of fight left in us. We don’t see our season ending anytime soon … This is it. We want to go out with a bang, and I think everybody on our roster wants to as well.”

As of Sunday, BYU is No. 50 in the NCAA’s NET rankings. 

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“I’m pretty sure we’ll do what’s best for us. A lot of the games that we played early on are holding pretty solid for us to be in contention to make the tournament,” said guard Te’Jon Lucas.

“If the game’s going to help us, I’m pretty sure the coaches will try to get one, but if it’s not going to do anything for us, I’m pretty sure we won’t play another one. I leave that up to the coaches and let them figure that stuff out. I’ll just be ready to play.”

The Cougars understand that their NCAA hopes are dangling precariously, but they also know, despite finishing in the middle of the WCC standings, the importance of winning whatever game presents itself.

“Landing in fifth is clearly not where we wanted to be, but we’re going to go in and take one game at a time, honestly,” Lucas said. “I think we’ll probably be one of the scariest fifth-place teams in the conference — in any conference.

“We’ll attack it how we can and prepare for one game at a time now. It’s Season Three. We had non-conference and then conference and so this is Season Three now. Everyone is 0-0. Win or go home. The good thing about it is, we’ve playing like that the last couple of weeks. Some teams have to start doing that like, ‘Hey, it’s win or go home now.’ Honestly, we’ve been like our lives are on the line for the last couple of weeks, so this is nothing new for us, and I think we’re going to carry that edge over to Vegas.”

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This WCC explained Sunday in a release why it used the adjusted winning percentage to determine the seedings.

“With interruptions during the 2021-22 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCC did not fully complete these conference schedules, leaving some disparity in the number of conference games completed among member programs. In total, six women’s basketball games and five men’s basketball games were declared non-contests by the Conference during the 2021-22 conference regular season,” it read.

“With an unequal number of games, the WCC partnered with Ken Pomeroy to develop a model that uses a proprietary algorithm that best reflects conference games completed and yields a conference adjusted winning percentage for each men’s and women’s basketball team.

“The conference adjusted winning percentage accounts for the strength of the opponent and the location (home/away) of the game played. The offensive and defensive efficiency metric is not utilized in the algorithm to determine a team’s conference adjusted winning percentage.”   

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