The West Coast Conference tournament will begin next week, and Gonzaga Bulldogs are the favorites to win it. But there have been doubts about their participation, and now coach Mark Few has finally weighed in on the rumors.
He admitted that he wants to participate, but there are a few factors holding him back. “I want to play and I’m happy to help everybody get a shot. It’s just I’ve never been great with the idea of taking 10 men’s and women’s teams to Vegas in one venue at the same time,” Few said on The Field of 68 podcast.
Coach Few also complained about it being “off the floor, casinos in and out, all the people gathered in one place.”
He questioned that if fans aren’t able to attend, how would the WCC make money, further challenging the rationality of the venue. The WCC tournament is scheduled to begin on March 4, and it will be held Orleans Arena near Las Vegas.
The winners of the conference tournaments are guaranteed a place in the NCAA tournament. With an outstanding record of 17-0 so far, the Bulldogs are a lock for the NCAA tournament. So they don’t need to play the tournament to assure their qualification.
As analyst John Canzano pointed out, the Bulldogs risk “injury, bad loss, and infection” if they play in the tournament. Being in one venue with so many teams for almost a week is likely to cause health risks. The WCC doesn’t have funds like the NBA to have a completely safe bubble, which is why the Bulldogs and a few other teams are worried.
There are rumors that BYU are likely to follow suit if the Bulldogs opt out, since they can also qualify without having to play the conference tournament. This will open up a chance for a third WCC team to qualify for the NCAA tournament. While that could be beneficial for the WCC, a deserving team could miss out on an at-large bid.
There are multiple consequences if the Bulldogs opt out, both positive and negative. So they need to be careful with this decision.