Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Western Athletic Conference tournament preview

This is part 30 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Cal St-Bakersfield 12-2
New Mexico St 11-3
Grand Canyon 11-3
UMKC 8-6
Utah Valley 6-8
Seattle 5-9
UT-Rio Grande Valley 2-12
Chicago St 1-13

Tournament format:
Thursday March 9 to Saturday March 11.  Grand Canyon is still transitioning, so only 7 teams here.

The matchups:
1) Cal St-Bakersfield vs. 4/5) Utah Valley/Seattle
2/7) New Mexico St/Chicago St vs. 6/7) UMKC/UT-Rio Grande Valley

The stakes:
The WAC is RPI 19, a pretty solid improvement over the past few years.  They're making progress.  Bakersfield crept lower than RPI 100, giving itself a fighting chance at the 14 line.  Whether they hit the 14 or 15 will likely depend on what happens in other conferences.  Their resume's probably good enough to make the 14 line in a vacuum.

New Mexico St actually was lurking around RPI 50 for the longest time.  Their non-con resume was a bit smoke and mirrors for a RPI like that, but still they're sitting at RPI 64.  I don't think a NIT at-large bid is coming, though.  Could be a 14 seed in the NCAAs if they get there though.  Needless to say, if any other team here wins this, they're headed to Dayton.

Grand Canyon is 22-9 overall, and should have another CIT bid if they want it.  UMKC is also above .500, so we'll see if these lesser tourneys are desperate enough to invite them as well.

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