Tuesday Truths: This Boeheim’s On Fire Edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 127 teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis. For a tidy little homily on why this stuff is so very awesome, go here.

Over the weekend a coach got somewhat upset, and it got me to thinking about past examples of wondrous instantaneous fury spewing forth like lava.

GB83

The difference being, of course, in college basketball we have peculiar mechanisms for enforcing standards of decorum. See below, “ACC.”

American: No, Connecticut is not the greatest 9-5 team in the history of sports
Through games of February 24, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville       12-2   68.2    1.17    0.91    +0.26
2.  Connecticut       9-5   66.2    1.12    0.96    +0.16
3.  Cincinnati       13-2   62.4    1.06    0.93    +0.13
4.  SMU              11-4   65.9    1.06    0.95    +0.11
5.  Memphis          10-4   69.0    1.09    1.00    +0.09
6.  Houston           5-9   67.0    1.00    1.11    -0.11
7.  Rutgers          4-10   69.6    0.99    1.12    -0.13
8.  Temple           2-12   67.7    1.01    1.14    -0.13
9.  UCF              2-12   66.1    0.98    1.16    -0.18
10. S. Florida       3-11   65.7    0.93    1.12    -0.19

AVG.                        66.8    1.04

Usually when you outscore your league by 0.16 points per trip you get better results than UConn’s .643 winning percentage. Here’s what we’ve seen from such teams in the short happy life of Tuesday Truths.

Teams that outscored their leagues by 0.16 points per trip

                      W-L    Pct
Syracuse      2012   17-1   .944
Michigan St.  2012   13-5   .722
Gonzaga       2012   13-3   .813
Duke          2011   13-3   .813
Ohio St.      2011   16-2   .889
Wichita St.   2011   14-4   .778
Pitt          2009   15-3   .833

                    101-21  .828

That’s some pretty august company, and at first it might appear that the Huskies are being woefully underrated. Maybe so, but keep in mind another possibility as well. 

We may have to start formulating some new perceptual rules for the American, where fully half the league’s comprised of teams outside the top 100 at KenPom. In games played against Houston, Rutgers, Temple, UCF or USF, Kevin Ollie’s team has outscored opponents by 0.31 points per trip. (And, of course, that amazing margin actually includes a loss, UConn’s shocking defeat at Houston on New Year’s Eve.) Conversely UConn has been outscored by 0.05 points per possession in six games against Louisville, Cincinnati, SMU and Memphis.

And speaking of unusually large efficiency margins at the top of the American….

Weekly “We will all toil in Louisville’s underground sugar caves” tracker. I’ll have more to say on the Cardinals and their Kentucky-in-2012-good per-possession scoring margin later this week at Insider. See you then.

ACC: I’m not sure people understand technical fouls. I’m not sure coaches do.

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Virginia         14-1   60.0    1.12    0.90    +0.22
2.  Duke             11-4   62.8    1.19    1.02    +0.17
3.  Syracuse         13-2   57.0    1.09    0.98    +0.11
4.  North Carolina   10-4   68.6    1.08    0.98    +0.10
5.  Pitt              8-6   61.7    1.07    1.00    +0.07
6.  Florida St.       7-8   63.0    1.06    1.05    +0.01
7.  Maryland          7-8   67.5    1.03    1.03     0.00
8.  Miami             5-9   56.7    1.01    1.02    -0.01
9.  Clemson           8-6   56.8    0.98    1.02    -0.04
10. NC State          7-7   65.3    1.00    1.07    -0.07
11. Notre Dame       5-10   61.0    1.05    1.13    -0.08
12. Boston College   3-11   60.4    1.08    1.17    -0.09
13. Georgia Tech     4-10   63.0    0.97    1.08    -0.11
14. Wake Forest      4-10   66.1    0.98    1.12    -0.14
15. Virginia Tech    2-12   59.6    0.93    1.08    -0.15

AVG.                        62.0    1.04

Over the weekend a coach got somewhat upset, and it got me to thinking, again, about how basketball is weird among the major American team sports. Only in hoops do you see such direct and unhindered scoring opportunities for the opponent — namely free throws — doled out as an enforcement mechanism for proper sideline/dugout comportment. When a manager goes nuts in baseball he’s ejected and possibly fined, and when a head coach goes nuts in football he’s possibly fined and maybe there’s some yardage walked off.

And, sure, points are different in basketball because there are more of them. Other things being equal a direct and unhindered scoring opportunity for the opponent will be less decisive in hoops than it would be in those other sports. But that difference shrinks late in close games. And if you’re down 60-58 with 10.4 seconds left and a bad call goes against you resulting in the other team getting the ball, your assistants should pin a post-it note to your collar that reads as follows:

The worst thing I could do right now would be to give the other team four free throws. After all, we’re only down two, and the other team’s been shooting free throws like a blindfolded Arinze Onuaku all night. We’ll try for a steal on the inbounds, and if we don’t get it we’ll foul and extend the game. And if I ever do give the other team four free throws with 10.4 seconds left, even if the opposing coach praises my passion and the media loves my sit-down version of a stand-up routine at the postgame presser, the relevant comparative figure isn’t going to be Mike Krzyzewski or Jerry Seinfeld. It’s going to be Chris Webber, the time he called a timeout his team didn’t have.

He’s still my COY, and we all make mistakes in the heat of the moment. Just as long as we’re clear that it was a mistake. Standing up and fighting for your team are honorable qualities, and the rules of basketball can on occasion set those qualities in opposition to winning the game. Be aware of that fact when you choose the manner in which you stand up and fight.

Weekly “We will all toil in Virginia’s underground sugar caves” tracker. The race for Tuesday Truths No. 1 in the ACC is coming right down to the wire. (It’s a cool honor. My mom sends you a coffee cake.) Duke has two sweet stat-inflating opportunities upcoming (at home against Virginia Tech and on the road at Wake Forest) before closing the season at Cameron Indoor against North Carolina. Meanwhile the Hoos have home games against Miami and Syracuse before they act as the ACC’s official goodbye committee and send Maryland out of the conference with a game in College Park a week from Sunday. I’ve been asked this question on Twitter but for your reference, the highest efficiency margin we’ve seen out of the ACC in the Tuesday Truths era was the +0.18 recorded by the eventual national champion Blue Devils in 2010. Also bear in mind, however, that the overall statistical strength of the ACC that season was a good deal better than it is this season. Time your awed hush accordingly.

Weekly Syracuse tempo tracker: No longer No. 127 out of the 127 teams tracked here. Congratulations, Cuse! Maybe I’ll start a “Weekly Miami tempo tracker.” Oh, the click-bait!

Big 12: The Streak

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kansas           13-2   68.2    1.19    1.02    +0.17
2.  Oklahoma St.      6-9   68.2    1.08    1.04    +0.04
3.  Oklahoma          9-6   70.5    1.10    1.07    +0.03
4.  Texas             9-5   69.0    1.07    1.05    +0.02
5.  Iowa St.          9-5   71.9    1.08    1.06    +0.02
6.  Kansas St.        8-6   65.9    1.05    1.03    +0.02
7.  Baylor            6-8   65.3    1.09    1.08    +0.01
8.  Texas Tech        5-9   61.9    1.08    1.11    -0.03
9.  West Virginia     7-7   68.4    1.11    1.13    -0.02
10. TCU              0-15   65.0    0.90    1.17    -0.27

AVG.                        67.4    1.07

With last night’s 83-75 win at home over Oklahoma, Kansas clinched at least a share of its 10th consecutive regular-season Big 12 title. In addition to recording an amazing basketball feat, Bill Self has also pulled off a small miracle of human resources management. The first complaint of any college coach regarding the one-and-done era is that you can’t plan in advance. You don’t know which kids will still be around next season.

Self doesn’t know that either, but somehow there are always really good players on hand to get the job done. I remember in the preseason leading up to 2011-12, the thought was that here, finally, was a season where the Jayhawks were going to be somewhat normal in terms of personnel. And there were grounds for that thought — Self himself talked that way. But then Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey blew up huge on offense and defense, respectively, within the same season, and all KU did that year was go to the national championship game.

Granted, the streak has been helped along by circumstances. The Big 12 hasn’t produced a KenPom top-10 team not named “Kansas” since the No. 2-seeded Missouri team that lost to No. 15 Norfolk State in 2012. But any major-conference streak that extends to a full a decade is going to be recorded against a goodly share of tough opponents. And whether your rival of choice is Oklahoma in 2009, Texas in 2008, or the Longhorns in 2006 (and don’t forget Texas A&M in 2007!), Kansas has managed to be as tough or tougher 10 times in a row.

Bill Self, I salute you!

Big East: When bad defense attaches to a physical location and transcends coaches

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Creighton        13-2   65.0    1.21    1.04    +0.17
2.  Villanova        12-2   65.6    1.15    1.03    +0.12
3.  St. John's        8-7   66.5    1.05    1.00    +0.05
4.  Xavier            8-6   64.5    1.12    1.10    +0.02
5.  Providence        8-7   63.9    1.09    1.08    +0.01
6.  Seton Hall        5-9   64.7    1.06    1.07    -0.01
7.  Marquette         8-6   65.5    1.05    1.07    -0.02
8.  Georgetown        7-8   63.6    1.04    1.06    -0.02
9.  Butler           2-13   62.8    0.99    1.12    -0.13
10. DePaul           2-13   67.3    1.00    1.17    -0.17

AVG.                        64.9    1.07

From time to time I’m intrigued by extremes in futility, and be forewarned that I may have occasion to direct this same fascination toward a certain Big 12 team before the season is complete. For now, however, I have my lawn chair unfolded and have taken a comfortable shady spot next to the train wreck that is the DePaul defense. It turns out this train has been wrecking for years.

Worst opponent effective FG percentages in the Tuesday Truths era

Major-conference games only

                     Opp.
                     eFG%
Oregon        2009   58.4
DePaul        2014   57.8
Northwestern  2011   56.5
Indiana       2009   56.5
DePaul        2011   56.2
Colorado      2009   56.0
Providence    2010   55.7
DePaul        2009   55.6
Temple        2014   55.3
DePaul        2013   55.3
UCF           2014   55.0
Stanford      2009   55.0

The Blue Demons have allowed an awful lot of made shots from the field over the past six seasons, and 2013-14 is shaping up as the most permissive campaign yet. Big East opponents are shooting 56 percent on their 2s and 41 percent on their 3s against DePaul.

Playing in the same league as the historically terrifying Creighton offense doesn’t help your stats, of course, but no defense has been ravaged by the Bluejays quite like the Villanova defense has and the Wildcats still return on other occasions and play actual defense against other opponents. Suffice it to say the Blue Demons’ problems on D go beyond tough opponents. The team has the league’s highest foul rate by far, and the Demons get very little bang for that buck in the form of opponent turnovers.

You can watch major-conference basketball for a very long while and not see a defense like this.

Big Ten: Gophers in peril

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Iowa              8-5   68.2    1.13    1.01    +0.12
2.  Michigan St.     11-4   63.7    1.12    1.01    +0.11
3.  Michigan         11-3   61.8    1.16    1.07    +0.09
4.  Wisconsin         9-5   63.9    1.13    1.04    +0.09
5.  Ohio St.          9-6   63.4    1.04    0.96    +0.08
6.  Nebraska          8-6   64.7    0.99    1.00    -0.01
7.  Indiana           5-8   64.2    0.98    1.02    -0.04
8.  Minnesota         6-9   62.1    1.03    1.07    -0.04
9.  Purdue            5-9   65.3    0.99    1.06    -0.07
10. Illinois         4-10   63.3    0.95    1.02    -0.07
11. Penn St.         4-10   66.2    1.00    1.09    -0.09
12. Northwestern     5-10   60.8    0.89    1.04    -0.15

AVG.                        64.0    1.03

Minnesota hasn’t won back-to-back games in seven weeks, and at 6-9 in Big Ten play the Gophers keep showing up in mock brackets due in part to the quality of the opponents they keep losing to. Richard Pitino may need to extend that dynamic even further, starting with tonight’s game in Minneapolis against Iowa.

Right now Minnesota is clinging to the field of 68 as a projected No. 11 seed, and, as chance would have it, two of the team’s final three games are against upper-echelon Big Ten opponents (the Hawkeyes and Michigan, in Ann Arbor Saturday). How many of those games the Gophers need to win to breathe easier will depend to some extent on how many bids are stolen away by conference tournament wackiness across Division I. But in pure performance terms the situation is pretty straightforward: Minnesota needs some stops.

When Illinois can come to your place in 2014 and score 1.10 points per trip, you have defensive issues. The Gophers are too foul-prone for a unit that isn’t forcing turnovers, and Pitino’s men are getting roundly abused on their defensive glass. Meaning the challenge that stands before the Gophers is large: Iowa and Michigan are both excellent offensive teams. Still, there could be a bid in it for Minnesota if the team can find an 11th-hour answer on D.

Pac-12: I haven’t started my end zone dance yet. But I’m stretching….

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Arizona          12-2   64.0    1.08    0.90    +0.18
2.  UCLA             10-4   71.1    1.13    1.00    +0.13
3.  Stanford          9-5   67.3    1.09    1.01    +0.08
4.  Utah              7-8   65.7    1.06    1.01    +0.05
5.  Cal               9-5   68.2    1.08    1.03    +0.05
6.  Oregon            6-8   69.1    1.09    1.06    +0.03
7.  Arizona St.       8-6   71.0    0.98    0.99    -0.01
8.  Colorado          9-6   67.5    1.02    1.04    -0.02
9.  Washington        7-8   67.3    1.03    1.07    -0.04
10. Oregon St.        6-8   67.6    1.06    1.11    -0.05
11. USC              1-13   70.7    0.94    1.12    -0.18
12. Washington St.   2-13   60.3    0.91    1.13    -0.22

AVG.                        67.5    1.04

I continue to wonder whether the impact of Brandon Ashley’s injury on Arizona may have been overstated at the time it occurred. This is quite separate from observing merely that the Wildcats would be better with Ashley. Of course they would be. But when Ashley suffered his season-ending foot injury on the first day of February, the consensus seemed to be this was likely to be a devastating setback for Sean Miller’s previously undefeated team.

We now have a nice sample size of about 400 post-Ashley possessions, and Arizona still looks pretty good to me. Four of the last six games have been played on the road, but the Wildcats have still outscored their opponents over that stretch by 0.12 points per trip — a figure that can be trusted all the more because (sorry Trojans and Cougars) none of those games were played against either of the league’s two worst teams. Also for the first 280 or so of those possessions Nick Johnson played some of the worst basketball of his junior season on offense. If the Cats can still outscore opponents by a comfortable margin when their star is suffering through a miserable slump, there may be hope for these plucky underdogs yet.

This offense isn’t going to remind anyone of Kansas, but that was more or less the case with Ashley in the lineup as well. And Miller’s defense is still excellent. Assuming this post-Ashley rotation can safely navigate its now-smaller margin for error in the areas of foul trouble and injuries, I think Arizona can still win some games next month.

Thank you, SEC, for this glimpse into hoops metaphysics

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Florida          14-0   61.7    1.14    0.94    +0.20
2.  Kentucky         11-3   66.2    1.12    1.00    +0.12
3.  Tennessee         7-7   62.2    1.08    1.02    +0.06
4.  Georgia           9-5   63.7    1.03    1.00    +0.03
5.  Arkansas          7-7   70.6    1.03    1.02    +0.01
6.  Missouri          7-7   65.7    1.11    1.11     0.00
7.  LSU               7-7   70.9    1.07    1.07     0.00
8.  Ole Miss          7-7   67.8    1.05    1.06    -0.01
9.  Vanderbilt        7-7   61.5    1.01    1.03    -0.02
10. Auburn           4-10   67.6    1.03    1.07    -0.04
11. Texas A&M         7-7   63.1    0.94    0.99    -0.05
12. Alabama           5-9   63.5    1.01    1.09    -0.08
13. South Carolina   3-11   67.3    1.00    1.08    -0.08
14. Mississippi St.  3-11   68.9    0.95    1.08    -0.13

AVG.                        65.8    1.04

Seven out of 14 SEC teams have a 7-7 record. Sounds like a good time to look at performance and wins in basketball.

Tennessee is 7-7 even though the Volunteers have outscored opponents by 0.06 points per possession. Texas A&M is 7-7 even though the Aggies have been outscored by 0.05 points per trip. Same records, yet there’s a much larger difference in per-possession performance between these two teams than there is between A&M and, say, 4-10 Auburn.

Then there’s the fact that Texas A&M is 2-0 against the Vols. So Tennessee, nominally the much better team, keeps losing to the oh-so-inferior Aggies. What does it all mean?

It means basketball is really unpredictable, and therefore really fun. If you want performance to show a much higher correlation to wins I suggest you start watching bowling. But here in hoops within the constraints of the unpredictability we do the best we can. And if Billy Kennedy’s team pulls a miracle in the SEC tournament and wins the league’s automatic bid you should not expect the Aggies to do as well as their seed position would suggest.

A-10: The schedule now turns in VCU’s favor

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Saint Louis      12-0   67.9    1.02    0.90    +0.12
2.  VCU               8-4   71.9    1.03    0.93    +0.10
3.  GW                8-5   68.9    1.05    0.98    +0.07
4.  UMass             8-4   70.6    1.04    0.99    +0.05
5.  St. Bonaventure   6-7   67.4    1.08    1.04    +0.04
6.  Saint Joseph's    9-3   65.7    1.04    1.01    +0.03
7.  Richmond          8-4   64.6    1.06    1.03    +0.03
8.  Dayton            7-5   64.9    1.07    1.04    +0.03
9.  Rhode Island     3-10   65.6    1.01    1.08    -0.07
10. George Mason     2-10   68.7    1.06    1.13    -0.07
11. La Salle          4-8   65.5    0.97    1.04    -0.07
12. Duquesne         3-10   68.1    1.00    1.09    -0.09
13. Fordham          2-10   67.9    0.99    1.17    -0.18

AVG.                        67.5    1.03

Saint Louis (or “Lil’ Cuse,” as I like to call the cardiac Billikens), is ranked in the top 10 nationally, and VCU did not receive a single vote this week. That may have something to do with the fact that the Rams just lost back-to-back road games (at SLU and UMass) by a combined total of seven points.

I’m not dinging the pollsters, I’m saying buy your VCU stock now.  As it happens the teams piloted by Jim Crews and Shaka Smart have played at very similar levels over the last 800-odd possessions. And this week the Rams play at Fordham before returning home to host the Billikens on Saturday.

Smart’s team is a mere shadow of what it was last season on offense, but at least VCU has addressed the extreme feast-or-famine issues it displayed on D last year. This is now a legitimately strong defense not only in terms of forcing turnovers but also when it comes to forcing missed shots. Opponents have trouble scoring even if Briante Weber doesn’t get a steal. (He pretty much always does, though.) I haven’t closed the book on you yet, Rams. Show me something.

Missouri Valley: Comparing the Shockers to the past mid-major greats 

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wichita St.      16-0   64.0    1.16    0.93    +0.23
2.  N. Iowa           8-8   63.8    1.16    1.09    +0.07
3.  Indiana St.      12-4   64.4    1.04    1.00    +0.04
4.  S. Illinois       8-8   61.3    1.08    1.07    +0.01
5.  Illinois St.      8-8   65.8    1.00    1.01    -0.01
6.  Missouri St.      8-8   62.7    1.06    1.09    -0.03
7.  Bradley           7-9   62.5    0.99    1.02    -0.03
8.  Loyola           4-12   63.0    1.00    1.06    -0.06
9.  Drake            5-11   63.5    1.03    1.11    -0.08
10. Evansville       4-12   65.7    1.00    1.13    -0.13

AVG.                        63.7    1.05

It was just four years ago that Butler came within three inches of winning a national championship, and, for that matter, it was just one year ago that Wichita State led Louisville 47-35 in the second half of a national semifinal. So I had rather hoped the discussion of whether a mid-major can win a national title had been answered by events. (Yes, a mid-major can, even though a mid-major hasn’t for a long while.)

Now we can turn to a slightly different question. Is this Wichita State team good enough to win the national championship? Short answer, yes. (Again, many of the same guys, national semifinal, 47-35.) But if you want the longer answer, these are the best mid-majors Tuesday Truths has tracked:

Efficiency margin, conference games only     
                      W-L     EM
Gonzaga       2013   16-0   +0.30
Memphis       2009   16-0   +0.27
Wichita St.   2014   16-0   +0.23
Wichita St.   2012   16-2   +0.22
Memphis       2012   13-3   +0.22
Xavier        2011   15-1   +0.22
BYU           2010   13-3   +0.22
Butler        2010   18-0   +0.20

Obviously the team Memphis had in 2008 would be up on these same bleachers if I had been tracking Conference USA in 2008, which I was not.

What’s compelling and historic about this season’s Shockers, of course, is that they’re the only team on this list of mighty mid-majors that entered its conference season undefeated. Unless Bradley says otherwise in Peoria this evening, WSU’s “0” in the loss column will live to see March. So make that “compelling, historic, and thrilling to watch.”

Weekly Valley tempo and style tracker: Still faster and imbued with more sheer per-possession offensive firepower than the ACC. Oddly.

Mountain West: The triumph of the Aztecs

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  New Mexico       12-2   63.8    1.14    1.01    +0.13
2.  San Diego St.    12-2   62.4    1.06    0.95    +0.11
3.  Boise St.         8-6   63.8    1.14    1.09    +0.05
4.  Wyoming           8-6   57.5    1.06    1.02    +0.04
5.  UNLV              8-6   62.7    1.06    1.03    +0.03
6.  Nevada            8-7   62.6    1.07    1.05    +0.02
7.  Fresno St.        7-8   64.5    1.09    1.09     0.00
8.  Colorado St.      6-9   63.5    1.07    1.07     0.00
9.  Utah St.         5-10   62.0    1.06    1.11    -0.05
10. Air Force        4-10   63.1    0.98    1.07    -0.09
11. San Jose St.     1-13   62.6    0.88    1.10    -0.22

AVG.                        62.6    1.05

With San Diego State having lost two of its last four games and, more importantly, with little fear of contradiction from the next 40 minutes (Steve Fisher’s men host San Jose State this evening), now is the perfect moment to point out that the Aztecs are way, way better than anyone thought they would be this season.

Whether you prefer your forecasts to come from humans or laptops, neither brand of fortune-telling thought we would see anything from SDSU this season. Fisher lost Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, and James Rahon, and junior-year-version Xavier Thames was a supporting player who shot 35 percent on his 2s.

This did not project to be a group that would enter March with an excellent chance of being one of the first 16 teams on the S-curve. The Aztecs force opposing offenses out of their sets and into turnovers, and SDSU does so while maintaining an exceptionally low foul rate. If it were easy every team would do that, but I haven’t seen many copycats yet.

Steve Fisher, I salute you!

West Coast: Gonzaga is your standard non-2013 Gonzaga team

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Gonzaga          13-3   65.8    1.11    0.96    +0.15
2.  BYU              12-5   69.5    1.16    1.07    +0.09
3.  Saint Mary's     10-6   63.0    1.11    1.05    +0.06
4.  San Francisco    11-5   64.2    1.09    1.07    +0.02
5.  Portland          7-9   65.6    1.08    1.09    -0.01
6.  Pepperdine        8-8   66.2    1.06    1.08    -0.02
7.  San Diego        7-10   61.6    1.04    1.08    -0.04
8.  Pacific          5-11   66.8    1.07    1.14    -0.07
9.  Santa Clara      5-11   64.5    1.03    1.10    -0.07
10. Loyola Marymount 3-13   68.4    1.01    1.14    -0.13

AVG.                        65.6    1.08

Every season Mark Few’s team finishes first or second in the West Coast Conference in terms of per-possession performance, and every season the NCAA men’s basketball committee has to figure out where to seed a statistically dominant team from a league rated somewhere between No. 9 and 13 among D-I conferences. Here’s how that process has played out the past few years:

        W-L     EM   Seed   Bid type
2014   13-3   +0.15
2013   16-0   +0.30    1    Auto
2012   13-3   +0.16    7    At-large
2011   11-3   +0.17   11    Auto
2010   12-2   +0.18    8    At-large

Note that in 2011 when Gonzaga may have been ticketed for a nervous Selection Sunday, the Zags had  the good sense to win the WCC tournament and remove all doubt from the question.

Few’s men may want to exhibit that same good sense this season. The evidence provided by 1,053 in-conference possessions this season suggests this Gonzaga team is more or less as good at basketball as past teams in Spokane (with the obvious exception of last season’s aberrantly beastly table-runners), but it just so happens that people will say this year’s team “hasn’t beaten anyone.”

People will be right. This year’s team hasn’t beaten anyone. (Speaking even more precisely, this year’s team hasn’t played anyone.) And with this past weekend’s loss at San Diego, the Zags’ seed is dipping perilously close to double-digit territory in the mocks.

Few’s men wrap up the season with games at Pacific and Saint Mary’s, then it’s on to the WCC tournament at the Orleans Arena in Vegas. Any single Gonzaga loss in that sequence of games — even if it’s just one defeat, and even if it comes, say, by one point in Moraga — will trigger cries of “they haven’t beaten anyone.” Losses, plural, would really boost sales at torch and pitchfork outlets nationwide. Finish strong, Bulldogs.

Life in a post-Jimmer program. Congratulations to BYU, which has played its way out of complete invisibility and is now squarely on the bubble thanks in no small measure to last week’s 73-65 win over Gonzaga in Provo. The Cougars wrap up the regular season on Saturday at San Diego.

For the first time since 2011 it’s likely that at least one of the teams in the WCC tournament title game will be playing for its NCAA tournament life. (In each of the past two years the Zags and SMC collided knowing they both had bids locked up.) Perhaps both finalists will be in that boat.