Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.
After starting out conference play 0-2 the Utah State Aggies have stormed their way to the top of the conference. The Aggies are winners of ten straight and at 10-2, have a game and a half lead over second place New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The bottom of the league is starting to clear itself up as well as Idaho has gotten warm at the right time to move into seventh place. Boise State and Hawai’i are battling for the final conference tournament spot.
This weekend the WAC steps out of conference as they take on their BracketBusters foes highlighted by 20-6 Utah State hosting 20-6 Wichita State, 15-9 New Mexico State traveling to 16-8 Pacific, 20-5 Louisiana Tech traveling to 17-9 Northeastern and 15-9 Nevada traveling to 17-8 Missouri State. Additionally, Fresno State will face Big West leading UC-Santa Barbara. The rest of the WAC will face members from the middle of the standings in the Big West.
Utah State, 20-6 (10-2)
New Mexico State, 15-9 (8-3)
Louisiana Tech, 20-5 (8-3)
Nevada 15-9 (7-4)
Fresno State, 13-13 (6-6)
San Jose State 12-10 (5-7)
Idaho, 12-12 (4-8)
Hawai’i, 9-15 (2-9)
Boise State, 11-14 (2-10)
The week’s results: 02/07 L vs. Idaho, 79-55, 02/11 L vs. Utah State, 72-67, 02/13 L vs. Nevada, 88-80 (OT)
Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/20 vs. UC-Davis
The Broncos have dropped three in a row and sit in last place in the WAC and with a loss at eighth place Hawai’i earlier in the conference season, the Broncos appear to be the team on the outside looking in at the postseason. They’ll need to start winning some games and hope for some help from the Hawai’i opponents as the conference schedule winds down if they hope to make the eight-team conference tournament. The Broncos step out of conference this week to face a pair of Big West foes in Cal State-Bakersfield and UC-Davis as part of the ESPN BracketBusters event.
Fresno State (13-13, 6-6)
The week’s results: 02/06 W @ Hawai’i, 61-51, 02/11 W vs. New Mexico State, 83-64, 02/13 L vs. Idaho, 68-59
Upcoming games: 02/20 vs. UC-Santa Barbara
The Bulldogs continue their up and down season. Following wins over Hawai’i in Honolulu and a beating of then-first place New Mexico State, the Bulldogs followed up with a loss at home to seventh place Idaho, 68-59. The Bulldogs were swept by the Vandals this season and sit two games ahead of the Vandals with four tough conference games remaining as they will play three of their final four conference games on the road at Nevada, at San Jose State and at Utah State before closing out the season with Louisiana Tech. Their sweep at the hands of Idaho could play a big factor in the seedings in the conference tournament.
Hawaii (9-15, 2-9)
The week’s results: 02/06 L vs. Fresno State, 61-51, 02/13 L @ Louisiana Tech, 66-60
Upcoming games: 02/15 @ New Mexico State, 02/20 vs. Cal Poly
It continues to be close but no cigar for the extremely shorthanded Warriors. Hawai’i has now lost six games in a row and outside of a 23-point loss to San Jose State in SJ, the Warriors have lost five of those six games by 10 points or less and four of those by six or less. Head coach Bob Nash received more bad news as guard Jeremy Lay will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The Warriors take on second place New Mexico State before hosting Cal Poly for their ESPN BracketBuster game.
Idaho (12-12, 4-8)
The week’s results: 02/07 L @ Boise State, 79-55, 02/10 L vs. Nevada, 67-66, 02/13 L @ Fresno State, 68-59
Upcoming games: 02/18 vs. Seattle, 02/20 vs. Long Beach State
The Vandals avenged their stunning home loss to in-state rival Boise State by taking them to the woodshed in the return game. The Vandals handed BSU their worst loss in the rivalry series. Idaho followed that win up with an oh-so-close loss to Nevada in which they led by two points with six seconds left before losing on a three point play by Nevada’s Armon Johnson. The Vandals regrouped to knock off Fresno State who was coming off a big victory over New Mexico State. Idaho hosts a pair of non-conference games when Seattle and Long Beach State come to Moscow.
Louisiana Tech (20-5, 8-3)
The week’s results: 02/08 L @ New Mexico State, 70-68, 02/13 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60
Upcoming games: 02/17 @ Utah State, 02/20 @ Northeastern
After leading the WAC through the first half of the conference schedule, the Bulldogs have gone 3-3 in their past six games and have a very long road trip for a pair of tough upcoming games, at Utah State and then all the way back across the country to face Northeastern in a televised ESPN BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs were the last team to beat Utah State when they trounced the Aggies 82-60 in Ruston.
Nevada (15-8, 7-4)
The week’s results: 02/06 L @ Utah State, 76-65, 02/10 W vs. Idaho, 67-66, 02/13 W vs. Boise State, 88-80
Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State
The Wolf Pack lost on the road at Utah State, 76-65, and stole a victory in Moscow 67-66 on a three-point play with under six seconds left to stun Idaho. Nevada then outlasted Boise State 88-80 in overtime. The Wolf Pack sit just one game behind both Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State with both teams still facing road trips to Reno. They’ll host Fresno State before heading on the road to face Missouri State in their ESPN Bracketbusters game.
New Mexico State (15-9, 8-3)
The week’s results: 02/06 W vs. San Jose State, 94-82, 02/08 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 70-68, 02/11 L @ Fresno State, 83-64
Upcoming games: 02/15 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 @ Pacific
The Aggies briefly moved into first place with a pair of victories over visiting San Jose State and Louisiana Tech but fell back into a tie for second place after a loss to Fresno State in their building. Against Louisiana Tech, the Aggies saw a 32-point swing as they were down by 15 points in the first half and up by 17 points in the second before holding on for a two-point win. In the loss against Fresno State the Aggies had one of their worst free throw shooting performances as they finished the game 9-of-26 from the free throw stripe. They had a higher shooting percentage from the three point line, 9-of-22, than they did from the charity stripe. The Aggies will look to bounce back against a depleted Hawai’i squad before heading west to face Pacific in their ESPN BracketBusters game.
San Jose State (12-12, 5-7)
The week’s results: 02/06 L @ New Mexico State, 94-82, 02/13 L vs. Utah State, 81-65
Upcoming games: 02/20 @ Montana State
The Spartans have now lost four in a row and dropped to 5-7 in the league after suffering Ls at New Mexico State and at Utah State. The Spartans play just one game, their ESPN BracketBusters game on the road against Montana State this weekend, one of two consecutive games outside the conference as they’ll face Seattle before heading down the home stretch in conference.
Utah State (20-6, 10-2)
The week’s results: 02/05 W vs. Nevada, 76-65, 02/11 W @ Boise State, 72-67, 02/13 W@ San Jose State, 81-65
Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State
The Aggies find themselves atop the conference with just four conference games left and with only one of the three games on the road they have the inside track to the regular season title. If they can win out and reach the title game of the WAC tournament, they could have a strong case for an at-large bid with wins over BYU and a would-be win over Wichita State. The Aggies can build that case for an at-large if they can defeat Wichita State this Saturday, however, losses to Long Beach State and Utah in the non-conference don’t help their cause.
Nevada vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet)
Boise State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 8:15 p.m. MT
Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
Northeastern vs. Louisiana Tech – 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Missouri State vs. Nevada – 2:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Idaho vs. Long Beach State – 5:30 p.m. PT
Montana State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT
Pacific vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m .PT (ESPNU)
Hawai’i vs. Cal Poly – 8:00 p.m. HT
Utah State vs. Wichita State – 10:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
Boise State vs. UC-Davis – TBA