We’ve been avoiding putting up one of these posts because until things started to solidify, there honestly just wasn’t any point. Yes, we could have discussed it to death, but… Literally there wouldn’t have been any point because SO much could change and to go through every particular scenario… It would be moot. It would be like predicting the D1 bracket before any mid-major conference tournaments had been played.
And yet… It is finally that time when we have SOME idea of what might be going on. Maybe.
Here are the GNAC standings as they stand today, Friday Feb. 21, 2020:
Basically: SPU is in and SPU has the first round BYE 100% guaranteed because they’re 16-1 and only have three games left, so even if they lose all three they’ll still be 16-4, which is two games ahead of any potential number two.
That’s where the good news ends for the Falcons, because… Winning the conference this year even with the Falcons notoriously difficult non-con means almost nothing.
In almost any other year it would be good non-con + far and away conference champ = NCAA tournament berth, but… For those fluent in WIAA basketball: SPU is Mercer Island and the CCAA is the Metro League. Sure SPU has this great shiny record in-conference and though they’ve had some scares, it’s not the nitty gritty terror that the CCAA teams face night in and night out.
In order to make the NCAA tournament as a GNAC team, even SPU is likely to require the auto-bid via winning the conference tournament, because as we see it currently:
UCSD is 100% in and hosting.
Chico State is in over SPU because they have the head-to-head match-up blow-out + strongest conference overall.
Cal Poly Pomona is in over SPU because they have the head-to-head match-up on the road + strongest conference overall.
San Bernardino is on the bubble, lucky for the Falcons, but… We’ll see what they do in the CCAA tourney.
Cal Poly Pomona & San Bernardino play DH & LA respectively, and then Monterey Bay and East Bay; UCSD also plays Monterey Bay and East Bay, while Chico State has a dangerous game at Stanislaus to end the year, but… Chico State and CPP we wouldn’t consider to be bubble teams; they both had a strong non-con while San Bernardino’s was weak.
In the realm of the Pac-West…
Azusa Pacific is 100% in because they had a super strong non-con and are hosting the conference tournament, although we actually don’t like their odds of winning the regular season. They still have a match-up with CU-I, while Point Loma has the legendary trio of NDNU, Art U., and Holy Names.
Point Loma should be 100% in; their non-con isn’t as good as APU and CU-I’s, but they should win the regular reason and it should be enough because the Pac-West is top-heavy.
CU-Irvine is more of a bubble team than they’d like to be, and could be where SPU gets their shot at an at-large berth. APU/Chico/Cal Poly Pomona, the Falcons actually have a win over the Eagles. Unless CU-Irvine wins the Pac-West tournament, they will be a bubble team because of a late-season loss to Dominican and fact that they play not only Art U., but Biola and Azusa Pacific this week, which is a much harder schedule than PLNU & the Bay area.
Chaminade now requires the autobid. They have recent losses to CU-Irvine, Fresno Pacific, and now host their two rival Hawaii schools that are going to want to take them down because the Chaminade guys are obnoxious; source: Played Chaminade last year.
Here at Home…
While yes the Pac-West and CCAA has better top teams, the GNAC actually has the better conference top-to-bottom. We basically only have CU-Portland as our annual “gimme” game (we see you SFU/Steve Hanson), while the Pac-West has HNU, Dominican, and NDNU. The CCAA has Sonoma State, Humboldt State, and usually Monterey Bay and East Bay; Bryan Rooney is now at East Bay, and SFSU beat Monterey Bay in the collapsing-after-non-con-game, but point is the CCAA usually has three guaranteed win teams.
For those checking in from the Pac-West and CCAA…
The GNAC is freaking NUTS.
And SPU isn’t that good, as y’all are likely aware with the Falcons non-con record. Realize that we’re an SPU alum ourselves and are like the biggest SPU homer you could ever possibly meet, buuuuut being an SPU alum means we have a functional brain, unlike most of our conference compatriots, and so we’ll be the first to ask you WHY HAVE WE WON SO MUCH WITH A BUNCH OF FRESHMEN?!?!?!?!? And like zero post presence. And a junior that won’t stop shooting even when he’s cold. And losing our one four-year starter of a senior in the middle of January. Have you seen our non-con record?!?! WE SHOULDN’T BE DOING THIS!!!!!!!!!
That’s not to say we don’t love and believe in our guys and our coaching staff and are ridiculously proud of every single one of them including our redshirts of which there are numerous, but… WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!? Our second best frosh isn’t even playing!! He’s out for the year. We see you Zack Paulsen.
And despite the huge rant of “SPU ISN’T THAT GOOD,” there are a lot of very above average GNAC teams. Are they great? Are they gonna get an at-large bid? Is the conference perception wrong and should we have more teams in contention for an at-large berth??
No. Definitely not.
Because the one consistent thing throughout our conference is that there’s zero cohesion and minimal consistency.
Pretty much every team has a handful of guys that we love and swear by and are super fun to watch play and do great things for the teams, but can you count on them night in and night out? No.
Western Oregon: Dalven Brushier, Darius Lubom, John Morrill-Keeler, and Emanuel Gant is fantastic, but it’s hard to it with four. WOU is arguably the most balanced team in the conference in terms of being able to rely on any one of them, but again: hard to do it with four.
Western Washington: Trevor Jasinsky, Logan Schilder, D’Angelo Minnis, Luke Lovelady, Leif Anderson, Siaan Rojas, and Cameron Retherford have all had fantastic games, but can any of them do it consistently? Trevor, sort of.
Northwest Nazarene: Jayden Bezzant, Beto Diaz, George Reidy, Zeke Alley, Spider Adentunji, and Sam Roth; great line-up, but zero consistency. Sam Roth was consistent before this year, but not this year, Jayden and Beto were absolutely insane this year but we’ve only seen it a few times for each this year.
Alaska-Anchorage: Oggie Pantovic, Niko Bevens, Tobin Karlberg, Jack Macdonald, Tyler Brimhall, Deandre Osuigwe, and Tyrus Hosley have all had lights-out games, but can they do it cohesively and consistently? It’s been a struggle.
Alaska-Fairbanks: Shadeed Shabazz, Alex Sommerfield, Spencer Sweet, Mawich Kachjaani, and Koby Huerta all have had lights out games, although we would say Shadeed and Alex is our 1-2 from the Nooks.
Central Washington: Davon Bolton, Xavier Smith, Kevin Baker, Marqus Gilson, Jeryn Lucas, Gamaun Boykin, Micah Pollard, Matt Poquette; we’re pretty sure every single one of those guys has led the Wildcats in scoring at some point, but no one knows who it’s going to be and all are forever trying to become the hot hand.
Simon Fraser: Jasdeep Singh, Othniel Spence, WIl Balata, Mike Provenzano, Julian Roche, Drew Bryson, Graham Miller, Mike Hannan… This team has fallen off a cliff. If you asked us about this team last year we’d be like “THEY’RE SO GOOD!!!!!” this year, it’s Jasdeep + 1 random other guy on any given night.
Those are the seven teams in contention for the five remaining spots in the conference tournament. Because we literally just went through all of them, we’re going to put up the list of SPU guys we would count, and then select a 12-person GNAC all-star team, just for fun:
Seattle Pacific: Divan’te Moffitt, Harry Cavell, Shaw Anderson, Braden Olsen, Gavin Long.
If we were making a GNAC All-Star team out of the above guys, who would we take?
Shadeed Shabazz, Oggie Pantovic, Jack Macdonald, Jasdeep Singh, Trevor Jasinsky, Divant’e Moffitt, Gavin Long, Shaw Anderson, Matt Poquette, John Morrill-Keeler, Emanuel Gant, and Spider Adentunji.
Why did we pick those 12? We trust every single one of them to actually play as a team. There’s not a guy on that list that’s going to hurt you by playing selfishly. Is it a little short? Yes. But do we trust Logan Schilder or Julian Roche more than we trust one of the power forwards listed? Absolutely not. Logan and Julian were amazing last year, but where they disappeared to this year, who knows?
Meanwhile, back at the seven teams battling for five spots…
We feel like talking about spots in the conference tournament has gotten heavy on the violence and war metaphors, but… It’s intense! And it’s been intense for over a month. Absolutely insane. It’s never let off and we doubt it will as it comes down to the close because…
WOU (11-6) is at NNU on Saturday, and then next week hosts the Alaska schools. WOU has a great home court advantage, but everyone’s gonna be in all out warfare mode.
WWU (11-6) hosts SPU on Saturday, Simon Fraser on Tuesday, and then flies to Billings on Thursday. Billings is an insanely hard place to play, SFU and WWU have become better “rivals” as of late, and then SPU vs. anyone is always a fight.
NNU (11-6) is hosting WOU on Saturday, and then heads to SPU and SMU for the coming week. Don’t let SMU’s record fool you; they’re a tough team and NNU has had to be stay at full power for almost two full months now.
UAA (10-7) is hosting MSUB on Saturday and then heads to the Oregons to finish out the season. This is honestly one of the easier schedules to finish out the year; they should over-power MSUB just fine and then same with CU-Portland. WOU is the only game where they’ll be underdogs, and so… That’s looking like a 12-8 record at worst, which is good.
UAF (10-8) escaped a terrifying match-up with MSUB last night, is off tomorrow, and then heads to the Oregons this coming week, which gives you a likely 11-9 record at worst or 12-8 record at best, which is still fine.
CWU (8-9) doesn’t face a bad schedule to end the year, the problem is where they are currently, It would have helped them buckets to get the win over WOU last night. Tomorrow they take on a CU-PDX team that almost beat NNU, and then next week they take on the Puget Sound schools. Realistically they’re looking at a 10-10 record.
SFU (7-10) is dangerous because they’ve got a bunch of guys that all played really well last year, and yet can’t seem to get it together this year. They kept SPU close for a full half but couldn’t hold on. Saturday they host SMU, and then next week they’re at WWU and MSUB… Not the easiest games to play. They absolutely have the ability to go 3-0 and end at 10-10, but it seems like realistically they’re looking at 8-12, maybe 9-11 if they’re lucky.
If SFU does in fact end up at 8-12 and MSUB can shock the world and go 3-0 to end the season, then the results are still moot because provided things fall as relatively predicted…
Your final five GNAC conference tournament teams likely are:
Western Oregon, Western Washington, Northwest Nazarene, Alaska-Anchorage, and Alaska-Fairbanks.
While yes, CWU and SFU aren’t out of contention yet, because of their current records and the opponents the teams above them are facing, they don’t control their own respective destinies and they would need help in order to make it, despite it not being out of the mathematical realm of possibility. On the one hand, the numbers above are pretty strong…
On the other hand, this is the GNAC and while we have relative confidence in what teams are going to ultimately make the conference tournament (finally) we’re only figuring that out with three games left to be played, and what the final order will be is wayyy beyond our scope of reach because you never know and once again: this is the GNAC.
Alright, that was a lot of information. Send your hate mail about why we think SPU sucks/why we’re such an SPU homer to @GNACMBB on twitter.
Be safe, have fun, and always remember: WEST COAST IS BEST COAST!!
Except for D2 men’s basketball it’s not, it’s really not. Reality is hard.