Could Grand Canyon basketball make the NCAA Tournament as at-large team?
Feb 13, 2024, 6:55 AM
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
While Grand Canyon has the best record in the nation amongst Division I programs, the chances of the Antelopes making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team remains a big question mark.
ESPN’s John Gasaway thinks GCU has a shot at making the tournament as an at-large team if they were to fall in the WAC Tournament, but precedent would suggest the odds are against them.
There are three Division I teams with just two losses on the season: Purdue, UConn and Grand Canyon. Can the Lopes parlay their sterling record into an at-large bid if the need arises? History says the odds are long, but Bubble Watch is all about analyzing those chances. Certainly the top-50 NET ranking for Bryce Drew’s team is eminently respectable, and the win at home over San Diego State doesn’t hurt. Throw a stick at the middle of the Big 12 and you’ll hit any number of profiles similar to GCU’s in terms of straight NET and strength of record rankings. If 22-2 Grand Canyon keeps winning, this could become an interesting conversation.
In Bryce Drew’s fourth season in charge, the head coach has led the ‘Lopes to their best start in program history after 24 games, but strength of schedule is a primary concern. GCU sits 44th in the NET rankings.
Even though GCU is a perfect 16-0 against Quad 3 and 4 teams, the ‘Lopes are a combined 3-2 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games.
Grand Canyon (22-2, 12-1 WAC) is 1-1 in Quad 1 games this season, losing to South Carolina at a neutral site and winning over San Diego State at home.
In Quad 2 games, the ‘Lopes are 2-1 with a win over San Francisco at a neutral site, a win at Liberty and a loss at Seattle.
GCU is not projected to face any additional Quad 1 or Quad 2 opponents during the regular season.
The ‘Lopes are aiming for back-to-back bids to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. Last year, they received their conference’s automatic bid after beating UT Arlington, Seattle, Sam Houston and Southern Utah to win the WAC tournament.
Saturday’s 94-65 win over Southern Utah was Drew’s 250th career victory. GCU is a perfect 12-0 at home this season and with four home games remaining, it have the opportunity to match the 1991-92 team that also went undefeated at home.