Granted, it is their own doing, but there isn’t a team in the nation who is playing with a greater sense of urgency than the Saint Mary’s Gaels. Reason being for the urgency? The four year probation that is technically underway but the sanctions really start to hit when the Gaels’ season comes to an end.
Saturday saw the Gaels narrowly avoid being upset by the San Diego Toreros in the WCC semifinals. It took overtime, but St. Mary’s was still able to win and advance to the tourney finals. Of course, being that the WCC is awesome, the number one ranked team in the country is waiting for them, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
This provides St. Mary’s with a golden opportunity to test their NCAA Tournament merit. The Gaels are certainly a lock to make the dance, but I am not sure if they even know how prepared they are for the tourney. Playing a team like the Zags will definitely be a good way to gauge what kind of success they can expect come the NCAA Tournament. Not to mention, whatever flaws and weaknesses St. Mary’s might have to work on can be tweaked in the match-up.
St. Mary’s is still playing for seeding, a WCC Tournament title, all while sanctions loom over their head. This is one of the rare instances where a non-bubble team will actually be playing with a greater sense of urgency than those grasping for a pair of dancing slippers. With the sanctions and four years of being irrelevant hanging over their heads, St. Mary’s knows this is their last shot in a long time at postseason glory.
Let’s just hope they play like it.
St. Mary’s and Gonzaga square-off Monday night at 9 pm eastern.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone