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Caption:LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 08: Emmett Naar #3 of the Saint Mary's Gaels drives against Domantas Sabonis #11 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the championship game of the West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzaga won 85-75. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Gonzaga’s 85-75 Victory Over St. Mary’s Bad News for Syracuse

The NCAA Tournament bubble is rapidly becoming a very unpredictable disaster, more so than usual.

Gonzaga’s 85-75 Victory Over St. Mary’s Bad News for Syracuse

The latest surprise was Tuesday night’s West Coast Conference title game, where the Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-7, 15-3 WCC) defeated the top-seeded St. Mary’s Gaels 85-75 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This marked the eighth time since 2004 that the two teams have met in the WCC title game.

Syracuse’s ACC Tournament game against Pittsburgh in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday is thus looking more and more critical for the Orange if they want to make it to the NCAA Tournament this year.

Syracuse currently leads the series 19-12. As of Tuesday night, the Orange owned an RPI (Rating Percentage Index, a measure of a team’s wins and losses as well as its strength of schedule) of No. 60 as calculated by ESPN and a Ken Pomeroy rating of No. 41.

Following Gonzaga’s win, several regular-season conference champions like St. Mary’s, Wichita State, Valparaiso and Monmouth can now potentially steal bids come Selection Sunday.

“It was huge for us because nothing’s guaranteed,” said Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, who scored 17 points and made 6 of 10 shots and all four of his free throws. “We didn’t want to be on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday, and I’m proud of these guys for these past couple games, just having the will to win.”

The Zags outscored Saint Mary’s 15-4 on points off turnovers and hit 18 of 26 shots to lead 43-35 at halftime.

The Bulldogs have now made their 18th straight NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series against Saint Mary’s 63-29. St. Mary’s must now wait to see if it gets an NCAA at-large bid on Sunday.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 08: Emmett Naar #3 of the Saint Mary’s Gaels drives against Domantas Sabonis #11 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the championship game of the West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gonzaga won 85-75. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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Written by Pablo Mena

Writer and assistant editor for usports.org. NY Giants and Rangers fan. Film and TV enthusiast (especially Harry Potter and The Office) and lover of foreign languages and cultures.

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