ESPN’s Gasaway: Grand Canyon men’s basketball on bubble watch for 2024 NCAA Tournament
Feb 6, 2024, 5:13 PM
Over the past few months, Grand Canyon men’s basketball has dominated the WAC and boasts a 21-2 record.
In head coach Bryce Drew’s fourth season at the helm, the Antelopes are building a resume for back-to-back bids to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
However, according to ESPN’s John Gasaway, GCU still has work to do before it can go dancing in March.
Grand Canyon might turn out to be the strongest team the WAC has produced since No. 12 seed New Mexico State took an Auburn team destined for the 2019 Final Four to the game’s final possession in the round of 64. Whether that strength, even should it materialize, will translate into a bid for the Antelopes is of course a separate question. Bryce Drew’s 21-2 team lost on a neutral floor to South Carolina by seven in the only game GCU will play against a major-conference opponent prior to Selection Sunday. On the plus side, Drew did coax Brian Dutcher to bring San Diego State to Phoenix, and the result was a six-point win for the Antelopes. (updated Feb. 6)
Playing only WAC opponents from here on out is not ideal for a program on the outside looking in for the Big Dance, as the strength of schedule has always been one of the many deciding factors for a team getting in or out.
They defeated San Diego State in Phoenix earlier this season when the Aztecs were ranked No. 25 in the country. However, the Antelopes also lost to South Carolina at a neutral site.
Grand Canyon is 46th in the 2024 NET rating. It holds a 4-2 record against Quad 1 and 2 teams and is a perfect 16-0 against Quad 3 and 4 teams.
The most feasible route to the NCAA Tournament is to win the WAC Tournament, and the Antelopes are the favorite to do that, currently holding an 11-1 record in the WAC with a multiple-game lead over second place Tarleton State.
Drew’s squad is led by seniors Tyon Grant-Foster and Gabe McGlothan, plus junior Ray Harrison. Harrison was named the 2023-24 WAC Preseason Player of the Year by the coaches after landing on the all-conference first team as a sophomore transfer last season.
All three players average more than 10 points and will be focal points down the stretch this season for the Antelopes.
Former Arizona State player Duke Brennan has been a feature in the starting lineup and is averaging 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in his sophomore season.
Together, the ‘Lopes have a perfect 11-0 record at home this season and have won 14 games by double digits. They would be the first back-to-back champions since New Mexico State won three in a row from 2017 to 2019.
Grand Canyon also received a singular vote into the top 25 this week after getting on a four-game win streak since losing to Seattle on Jan. 20.
If GCU doesn’t win the WAC Tournament, it will still have a chance if it wins at least six out of its last eight games.