Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

Three sets of three teams, that’s how the standings look as the nine teams look to start the second half of the conference schedule. The top three teams are Utah State, winners of seven in a row, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. The middle tier is led by Nevada with the two California schools, San Jose State and Fresno State close behind. Then there are the bottom three teams. Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i are all 2-7 in conference play and it appears that the three will battle for the final two spots in the WAC tournament.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 17-6 (7-2)
  2. Louisiana Tech, 19-4 (7-2)
  3. New Mexico State, 13-8 (6-2)
  4. San Jose State 12-10 (5-5)
  5. Fresno State, 11-12 (4-5)
  6. Boise State, 11-11 (2-7)
  7. Idaho, 10-11 (2-7)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-13 (2-7)

This week the ESPNU BracketBusters pairings were announced and the league received four televised games in the event.

  • Sat., 2/20, Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, Nevada at Missouri State, 3 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, New Mexico State at Pacific, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Sat., 2/20, Wichita State at Utah State, 11:59 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)

The other five teams also face non-conference opponents as part of the event but their games will not be televised.

  • UC Santa Barbara at Fresno State
  • San Jose State at Montana State
  • Long Beach State at Idaho
  • UC Davis at Boise State
  • Cal Poly at Hawai‘i

The WAC will certainly look to put its best foot forward in the BracketBusters event as two teams, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, will face conference leaders Pacific and Northeastern respectively while Nevada and Utah State will face two teams from The Valley in Missouri State and Wichita State.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (11-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Fresno State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/07 vs. Idaho, 02/11 vs. Utah State

The Broncos have won two in a row in conference play after handling a Paul George-less Fresno State squad 65-59 in Boise. The Broncos led for most of the game and never trailed in the second half. Daequon Montreal and Kurt Cunningham each scored 13 points while Paul Noonan hit four three-pointers to finish with a dozen points. The Broncos earned a season split with Fresno State with the win and moved into a three-way tie for 7th place along with Idaho, their next opponent, and Hawai’i.

Fresno State (11-12, 4-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Boise State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Hawai’i, 02/11 vs. New Mexico State

It appears the effects of losing leading scorer Paul George have caught up to the Bulldogs. Fresno State lost back-to-back games in the state of Idaho and both by similar margins. Their latest loss was a 65-49 loss at the hands of Boise State. The Bulldogs remain winless on the road and must face Hawai’i in Honolulu on Saturday before coming home to host New Mexico State. The Bulldogs are winless on the road in conference play.

Hawai’i (9-13, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 @ Nevada

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. Fresno State

The Warriors’ slide continues as they put up a valiant fight but still fell to Nevada 66-60 in Reno. The Warriors have lost six of their last seven games and with four of their next five games coming against the top four teams in the league, there is not much a light at the end of the tunnel. Hawai’i can take solace from the fact that they battled in Reno in a game in which nobody gave them a chance. Roderick Flemings scored 17 points for Hawai’i and they tied the game at 56 with four minutes left to play but six consecutive free throws in the final 37.5 seconds by Nevada was the difference.

Idaho (10-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Seattle, 87-85,  02/03 L @ Utah State, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/07 @ Boise State,  02/10 vs. Nevada

The Vandals had an up and down week, mostly down as they squeezed out a close win against Seattle 87-85 and then were spanked by Utah State on national television.  Although to be fair they played without leading scorer and team leader Mac Hopson, who was held out after violating curfew the night before the game. The Vandals travel to Boise State in a revenge game and an all-important game in the league standings. Should Boise State win, the Vandals would essentially be two games behind the Broncos in the league standings as BSU would hold the tiebreaker with Idaho. However, if Idaho can pull out a victory, it would put them a game ahead of the Broncos in the standings and ensure that the tiebreaker would require more than a look at the head-to-head results.

Louisiana Tech (18-4, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 L vs. New Mexico State, 91-77, 02/04 W vs. San Jose State, 71-64

Upcoming games:  02/08 @ New Mexico State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games but remained in first place after getting manhandled by New Mexico State, as they used a 15-0 run to start their game against San Jose State en route to a 71-64 victory. The Bulldogs travel to New Mexico State where they’ll look to exact revenge for their loss just over one week ago.

Nevada (13-8, 5-3)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Utah State, 02/10 vs. Idaho

The Wolf Pack nearly suffered deja vu as they allowed an undermanned Hawai’i squad to hang around before icing the game from the free throw line. Nevada jumped out to an early lead but allowed a 12-0 run to end the half to send them into halftime tied with Hawai’i. The second half was a back and forth battle before Nevada’s six made free throws in the final 37.5 seconds saved the Wolf Pack from another stunning loss. Nevada travels to Logan to take on league-leading Utah State on Saturday night and then a trip to Moscow, Idaho, to take on the Vandals.

New Mexico State (13-8, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Louisiana Tech, 91-77

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. San Jose State, 02/08 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handed Louisiana Tech their first home loss of the season in a convincing 91-77 victory in Ruston. They played arguably their best game in two seasons and got a major outing from Hamidu Rahman who scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and was named the WAC Player of the Week for his effort. The Aggies also got 24 points from their bench which proved to be the difference in the game. NMSU faces San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, the two teams they just faced, at home in Las Cruces as they try to keep pace with Utah State at the top of the standings. And they got another boost as the NCAA declared redshirt sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater academically eligible to play for the remainder of the season. New Mexico State filed an appeal on behalf of Gillenwater with the NCAA to grant him eligibility which ended in a favorable ruling. Gillenwater averaged 12.1 points per game last season as a redshirt freshman.

San Jose State (12-10, 5-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Utah State, 77-58, 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ New Mexico State

The Spartans’ hot streak was cooled off by the red-hot Utah State Aggies. San Jose State trailed Utah State by just two less than a minute into the second half but a huge run by the USU buried San Jose State as they fell by 19 points, 77-58. Adrian Oliver scored 19 points for the Spartans. Against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the Spartans fell behind 15-0 to start the game and could never recover. They were able to cut the lead to seven points midway through the second half but the initial deficit was too much to overcome. The Spartans wrap up their road trip on Saturday night against New Mexico State, a team they defeated in San Jose.

Utah State (17-6, 7-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. San Jose State, 77-58, 02/03 W vs. Idaho, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/05 vs. Nevada, 02/11 @ Boise State

The league’s hottest team resides in Logan, Utah. The preseason pick to win the league has risen to the top of the standings after a rough 0-2 start. Since getting blown out by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has won seven in a row and has had just one close game, an overtime win at Nevada 79-72. The other six games have been decided by an average of 23.5 points. The Aggies host Nevada in a rematch of that classic battle earlier in the season in Reno before taking a road trip to Boise State and San Jose State.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 02/06 – New Mexico State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, ESPN Full Court)
  • 02/06 – Boise State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/06 – Hawai’i vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m . HT (KFVE Honolulu, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 02/06 – Utah State vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • 02/08 – New Mexico State vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPN Regional)
  • 02/10 – Idaho vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 02/11 – Boise State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/11 – Fresno State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
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