Here’s why GCU won’t play in the WAC tournament until March 15

Jeff Vinton
6 Min Read

The Lopes just wrapped up their season winning their first-ever outright WAC regular season championship. Here’s why that earned GCU almost a week off.

PHOENIX — For the first time in program history, the Grand Canyon University men’s basketball team has won the outright Western Athletics Conference regular season championship. And now, they will head to Las Vegas as the No. 1 seed in the WAC tournament as the Lopes look to win back-to-back WAC Tournament championships and head to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. 

However, GCU clinching the No. 1 seed also means fans won’t see them on the court at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas until Friday, March 15.

In the WAC Tournament, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds earn double-byes to the semifinals. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds earn a single-bye into the quarterfinals and Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8 seeds will play in the first round. 

The winner of the matchup between the No. 5 and No. 8 seeds will play the No. 4 seed in the quarterfinals. The winner of that quarterfinal game, the Seattle Redhawks, will play GCU on March 15 at 6 p.m. for a spot in the WAC Tournament championship. 

The WAC Tournament Championship Game will be played on March 16 at 8:30 p.m. The winner of that game will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

How GCU earned the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament

GCU started the 2023-24 season hot. The Lopes won 17 of their first 19 games, winning all but one of their non-conference matchups and staying undefeated in WAC play until Jan. 20. 

The Lopes did run into a late-season hiccup as they lost back-to-back games against Tarleton State and Abilene Christian on Feb. 22 and 24, but ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak to finish with a record of 27-4 (16-3 WAC). 

GCU clinched at least a share of the WAC regular season title when Tarleton State lost to Utah Valley on March 7. They clinched the outright title by beating California Baptist 68-47 on Saturday.  

GCU will be looking for their second straight WAC Tournament title and third overall. The Lopes also won the tournament in 2021 in their first season under Head Coach Bryce Drew. 

GCU’s history in the WAC 

The Lopes had a rich basketball history in both the NAIA and NCAA Division II before jumping up to Division I and joining the WAC in 2013. GCU won three NAIA national championships in 1975, 1978 and 1988 and qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament 10 times. 

Since jumping up to Division I, the Lopes have made appearances in the Postseason Tournament three times (2014, 2015 and 2016) and have played in the College Basketball Invitational two times (2018 and 2019). 

GCU has qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice in 2021 and 2023. In 2021, the Lopes lost to Iowa in the first round, and in 2023, the Lopes lost to Gonzaga in the first round. 

GCU has seen most of its success in the WAC since Drew took over as head coach in 2020 after the firing of Dan Majerle, who had led the program during their first seven seasons in the WAC. Drew has gone 91-31 so far in his four seasons. 

Here’s a year-by-year look at GCU’s history in the WAC. 

  • 2013-14: 15-15 (Made Postseason Tournament) 
  • 2014-15: 17-15 (Made Postseason Tournament) 
  • 2015-16: 27-7 (Made Postseason Tournament) 
  • 2016-17: 22-9 
  • 2017-18: 22-12 (Made College Basketball Invitational) 
  • 2018-19: 20-14 (Made College Basketball Invitational) 
  • 2019-20: 13-17 (Majerle fired after season, Drew hired) 
  • 2020-21: 17-7 (Won WAC regular season co-championship, won WAC Tournament and made the NCAA Tournament) 
  • 2021-22: 23-8 (Lost in WAC Tournament semifinals) 
  • 2022-23: 24-12 (Won WAC Tournament and made NCAA Tournament) 

Arizona sports 

The city of Phoenix is home to five major professional sports league teams; The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.

The Cardinals have made State Farm Stadium in Glendale their home turf and the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix is home to both the Suns and the Mercury. The Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers play at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale. The Coyotes play at Mullett Arena on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Phoenix also has a soccer team with the USL’s Phoenix Rising FC, who play at Phoenix Rising FC Stadium in Phoenix.

The Valley hosts multiple major sporting events on a yearly basis, including college football’s Fiesta Bowl and Guaranteed Rate Bowl; the PGA Tour’s highest-attended event, the WM Phoenix Open; NASCAR events each spring and fall, including Championship Weekend in November; and Cactus League Spring Training for 15 Major League Baseball franchises.

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Jeff Vinton ,
KPNX Vivrr Local Feed: sports , 2024-03-15 04:26:56
Categories: march-madness,sports,ncaa,ncaab,college,local-sports,basketball,valley,news,local,arizona,home

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