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The WAC had a very similar season to last year. They had the same exact RPI (9) and the same dominant team in Nevada. Moreover, New Mexico State and Utah State were in the mix behind the Wolf Pack once again. One difference, though, is the fact that the WAC is not likely to get a second bid unless Nevada loses in the conference tournament. Only three other teams finished above .500 in conference play, the best being NMSU at 11-5. It should be an interesting WAC tourney.
Favorite: How could it not be Nevada? The Wolf Pack went 26-3 overall, and 14-2 in the WAC, with both losses coming on the road by a combined 9 points. Nevada has the most efficient offense in the conference, the best shooting team, and they take care of the ball better than anyone else. Oh, and they have Nick Fazekas, a bonafide All-American. He averages 21 points and 11 rebounds per game, and can dominate a game. Marcelus Kemp is a big-time scorer on the wing who can shoot the ball; he had 57 points in the final two games. Ramon Sessions is a very good all-around point guard who can hit the boards as well as distribute. Kyle Shiloh is another solid performer.
Contenders: New Mexico State may have the best shot at dethroning Nevada in the tournament. They already beat them once at home, and only lost by four on the road. The Aggies are deep and have multiple options offensively. Former Utah transfer Justin Hawkins is one of the best players in the conference, and does everything well. Florida A&M transfer Tyrone Nelson is a very good option down low, and St. John’s transfer Elijah Ingram is a good scorer in the backcourt. Third-leading scorer, Kansas State transfer Fred Peete, is questionable with a broken foot. Oh, and the Aggies will be playing on their home court for the tourney. Fresno State has won six straight games, including a sweep of New Mexico State and a road win at Utah State. They are 6-1 since double-figure scorer Ja’Vance Coleman was dismissed from the team. The forward tandem of Quinton Hosley and Dominic McGuire is one of the toughest match-ups in the conference. Both are athletic, inside-outside players. Hector Hernandez is another big man down low. Kevin Bell is one of the best distributors in the WAC. Utah State had won ten of twelve before dropping three of their last four. Jaycee Carroll is one of the best players you’ve never heard of; he can really shoot the ball and leads the WAC in scoring. Chaz Spicer and Stephen DuCharme anchor the frontcourt at the forward positions.
Sleeper: Boise State has lost three in a row heading into the conference tournament, but with the trio that they have, the Broncos can beat anyone. In fact, their first round opponent is Fresno State, a team they have already defeated. They are led by Coby Karl, son of George Karl. He is a very good shooter who has good athleticism and can get to the basket. He is also a very good passer. Inside, the duo of Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry is dominant at times. They combine for about 28 points and 17 rebounds per game, easily the best post combo in the conference.
Prediction: This could be a troublesome tournament for bubble teams. The only way that the WAC gets two bids is if a team other than Nevada wins the automatic bid—and that’s exactly what is going to happen. New Mexico State has already shown they can beat the Wolf Pack, and they will be playing on their home court. The Aggies have the perimeter scorers and the inside presence to knock off Nick Fazekas and Nevada. Fresno State-New Mexico State in the semi-finals should be a great battle.
If Fresno St makes it to the finals and shows well against Nevada, the WAC could get two. Historically, the WAC is a 2 bid league and with a ranking of 9, they deserve 2.ReplyDelete
Fresno's RPI is currently 73, cetainly not great but they are hot. Their win against Crieghton certainly helps....
Watch out for New Mexico State. The beat Nevada once already, and have a bad taste in their mouths from a loss at Nevada that was one of the worst called games I've ever seen. Even with the lousy officiating, NMSU could have pulled off the season sweep if they could shoot free-throws! Watch for an NMSU victory if both teams reach the WAC tourney final.ReplyDelete
In my prediction paragraph, I have NMSU winning the automatic bid. Don't worry, I'm "watching out" for them.ReplyDelete