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Injuries to Laura Stockton, Jill Townsend have bracketologists split on Gonzaga’s NCAA Tournament seeding

UPDATED: Thu., March 14, 2019

Gonzaga Bulldogs guards Laura Stockton, right, and Jill Townsend, left, await the start of the West Coast Conference Tournament championship  Tuesday  at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs guards Laura Stockton, right, and Jill Townsend, left, await the start of the West Coast Conference Tournament championship Tuesday at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Will the NCAA add insult to the injuries already suffered by the Gonzaga women’s basketball team?

Quite possibly.

With Selection Monday around the corner, the Zags are 28-4, ranked 12th in the Associated Press and 14th in the Rating Percentage Index, or RPI.

It’s an impressive body of work, but the body is no longer whole.

Starting point guard Laura Stockton and versatile Jill Townsend, the Zags’ top reserve, were injured in Monday’s West Coast Conference semifinal win over Saint Mary’s.

There’s still no official word on the status of Stockton and Townsend.

“We will continue to evaluate the injuries and will know more by Selection Monday,” athletic spokesperson Jenna Larson said Thursday.

The injuries to Stockton and Townsend appear to be serious. Both were on crutches on Tuesday. Without them, the Zags weren’t the same team, falling 82-68 to BYU.

That brings up the question before the NCAA selection committee: How much do you penalize a team for major injuries?

For much of the season, Gonzaga had flirted with the chance of being a No. 4 seed and hosting first- and second-round NCAA games at the McCarthey Athletic Center. That possibility seemed to fade as other schools’ resumes – especially those of Power-5 programs such as Syracuse, Iowa State and Texas A&M – were bolstered last week by wins in their respective conference tournaments.

For the last two weeks Gonzaga has been a steady presence on the No. 5 line, meaning it would face a No. 12 seed in the first round. If form held and the favorites won, the Zags would then face a No. 4 seed on the latter’s home court.

That still may happen. ESPN’s Charlie Crème still had the Zags at a No. 5 seed in Thursday’s edition of his bracket.

However, highposthoops.com raised the issue on Wednesday: “When seeding teams, the committee looks at the personnel that a team has for the tournament. Today, we can pencil in Gonzaga as a dangerous 6, subject to change.”

In its bracket prediction, highposthoops had GU traveling to third-seeded Miami and playing Tennessee.

Crème’s bracket has GU as a No. 5 seed, facing Ohio Valley Conference champion Belmont in a foursome hosted by Iowa State.

If past actions are any indication, the committee will certainly take a look at the effect of injuries to Stockton and Townsend.

“Some members of the committee probably consider it very strongly and other members less so,” said Ron Wellman, former chair of the men’s selection committee said.

“It is a subjective factor that the committee members do take into consideration, like I said, to varying degrees,” Wellman added.

Dropping down a seed means a tougher first-round opponent – an 11 seed instead of a 12. Likewise, the probable second-round opponent would be a No. 3 seed instead of a four.

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