Pac-12 Who’s Going Where

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2012

Here’s a look at each Pac-12 team’s postseason capsule, by order of each team’s tip-off. Enjoy!

Oregon

Who, When, Where: vs. LSU (18-14) in Eugene, Oregon, NIT First Round, 3/13, 6:30 PM PDT, ESPN

First Up: What the Tigers lack in scoring they make up in rebounds and points in the paint. LSU averages 37 RPG and they are led by big men Justin Hamilton and Storm Warren. What makes the Tigers dangerous is their ability to adapt to a certain style. They will play at the pace you want the game at, and then beat you with your own style.

Best Case Scenario: With the way Oregon has been playing of late (Pac-12 Tournament notwithstanding), the Ducks can easily make a run in this tournament. With players like Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim that are able to create and knock down their own shots, Oregon should be able to beat LSU in the first round. After that things get much more tough, but I can’t see the Ducks losing a “best case scenario” game until they would likely meet either Seton Hall or Arizona in the championship.

Worst Case Scenario: Even if the Ducks do not play well against the Tigers, home-court advantage should pull them through to the next round. However, they would likely have to travel to Dayton in the second round, and the Flyers pose matchup problems all over the court for Oregon. Expect an Oregon-Dayton matchup to be much like last Thursday’s Colorado-Oregon game. The Flyers stingy defense and potent offense should build a large lead early on against the Ducks, and while Oregon battles to cut the deficit to three with four minutes left, it is never able to come all the way back after a long road trip and an emotinal comeback drians all of its energy.

Devoe Joseph's offensive prowess has the Ducks dreaming of a trip to Madison Square Garden. (credit:Jayne Kamin)

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2012

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @Zachbird_nerd

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • Conference play opens up: Southland Conference play has opened up and even though we are just a few games into the conference schedule, the games have already been exciting and closely contested and featured some real nailbiters. Out of the 12 teams in the conference, just four of the teams remain unbeaten as this season already looks to be competitive. Every season proves that the later we get into these games, the more dominant teams start to show. It will be exciting to see which teams emerge as contenders for the conference title and whether or not there will be a surprise team this year.
  • Mike James repeats as Player of the Week: Lamar senior guard Mike James has been sensational this year. In three out of the last four weeks, he has been named conference “Player of the Week.” His recognition comes after he averaged 26 points in the first two games of conference play. In one of those games, against A&M Corpus Christi, he finished with a season high 31 points. Against Central Arkansas, the senior was able to put up 21 points in an easy victory for the Cardinals. During those two games, James shot 65% from the floor (19-of-29) including 85% from three-point territory (6-of-7).
  • Two top teams clash early in conference play: Early into the Southland Conference schedule, fans were treated to a delight as last year’s regular season conference champion McNeese State took on Pat Knight’s Lamar Cardinals. Before the season, the Cowboys were predicted to win the conference, but they struggled during their non-conference schedule. Lamar on the other hand was looking great despite having played three of the top 10 teams in the country. That being said, both teams battled to a close contest as the Cowboys eventually won a close one, 57-54, proving that experience matters. These teams still have to play one more time this season, and just like this meeting, expect it to be a good game.

LaMarcus Reed III Has Been One Of Many Standouts For Texas-Arlington (uta.edu)

Power Rankings

  1. Texas-Arlington (10-5, 3-0): Three games into conference play and no team has been more impressive than the Mavericks. In their three Southland games against SE Louisiana, Nicholls, and SHSU, they have won by an average margin of 31 points. They have been doing it on both sides of the ball as well. As a team, the Mavericks are shooting 46.5% from the floor and are holding teams to shooting just 34% and 16% from beyond the arc. Senior LaMarcus Reed III has been a leader for the Mavericks, averaging 16 points in those three games. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2011


Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Lamar battles tough opponents: Pat Knight has certainly had his hands full during his time as the Lamar head coach. So far this season, the Cardinals have battled some quality top-10 opponents that included Louisville and more recently, Ohio State and Kentucky. Despite losing all three of those games by an average margin of 20 points, the Cardinals have actually been quite competitive in those games and seen some different players step up. While those games have added losses to the Cardinals record, Knight is pleased with what he is seeing. In fact, he thinks these tough games will help the Cardinals, stating: “This is just going to help us in conference.” They will open up conference play on January 4 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
  • Fortenberry missing playing time: Southeastern Louisiana’s leading scorer, forward Brandon Fortenberry, missed his third straight game when the Lions traveled to take on South Carolina. In his absence, the team is 1-2, and struggling offensively. On the road against Arkansas and South Carolina, the Lions shot just 33% from the floor including 28% from three-point territory. In his absence, senior guard Elgin Bailey returned and has been the team’s predominant scorer averaging 13.5 points per game. In that span of three games, Bailey is also averaging nine rebounds per game. While Bailey has been a big contributor, the Lions are hopeful that Fortenberry will be ready for conference play which begins on January 4 when the team travels to UTA.
  • Ingram named Conference Player of Week: Texas-Arlington forward Bo Ingram was selected as this week’s Southland Conference Player of the Week. Over the past week, the Mavericks competed in the Athletes in Action tournament that saw the Mavericks go 2-1. In that three-game span, Ingram averaged 19.3 points per game, including 21 points against both Utah State and Saint Peter’s. During the tournament, Ingram also averaged 5.3 rebounds per game, including 11 offensive rebounds. Ingram is peaking at the right time and they are hopeful that it will continue as conference play begins January 4 for the Mavericks. They will open up conference play against Southeastern Louisiana and that game is scheduled for 7 PM.

Texas-Arlington's Bo Ingram Had An Outstanding Week (southland.org)

Power Rankings

  1. Lamar (8-5): Despite going just 1-2 over the last two weeks, Lamar has continued to impress. The team faced and defeated Rice by the score of 87-81, before stepping up and playing some big names. First the Cardinals traveled to Columbus to take on the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes before heading over to Lexington to take on the #3 Kentucky Wildcats. Both games ended in losses for Pat Knight’s squad. However, they were able to keep it competitive and playing these caliber of teams in their non-conference schedule will help out the Cardinals when they open Southland Conference play. Senior guard Mike James has been impressive for the Cardinals, averaging over 21 points a game over the last two weeks, including a 29-point performance against Kentucky.
  2. Texas-Arlington (6-5): From a fan’s perspective, no team has been more fun to watch over the last two weeks than the Mavericks. The team may be 2-2 over that time period, but the team had its share of nail biters as each game was close. The first set of games for the Mavericks required them to travel to Tulsa and then play at Utah State. Despite hanging in there with Tulsa, the Mavs lost by five, 80-75, in overtime. They would also fall at Utah State, 73-69, despite a 21-point performance by senior forward and Southland Conference Player of the Week Bo Ingram. However, the Mavs would get back on track as they traveled back to Arlington and defeated Kent State, 74-73, and St. Peter’s, 73-68. Against St. Peter’s, Ingram had another 21-point performance, shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstionianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • LaQuentin Miles named Southland Player of the Week – On Monday, Central Arkansas guard LaQuentin Miles was named as Southland Conference Player of the Week. In the last two weeks, Miles averaged 19 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game as he helped Central Arkansas win two of their three contests. His standout game came against Henderson State, when he scored a career-high 29 points while picking up 12 rebounds, giving him his fourth double-double on the young season. Against SE Missouri, Miles added 16 points, and against Arkansas State, he scored 12. Currently, Miles leads the conference in scoring average with 19.3 points per game, and also ranks third in field goal percentage (55.4%), and is tied for sixth in rebounds per game (7.0).
  • Young Sam Houston squad continues to deal with injuries to bigs – It’s been a rough season for the Bearkats so far, and most of the struggles have come due to the team being undersized. Antuan Bootle, the team’s only returning starter from 2010, was injured after the first game of the season against Howard Payne. After a loss at Texas A&M, coach Jason Hooten frustratingly mentioned at his press conference that the team had only suited up six out of his 13 scholarship players.  Freshman Michael Holyfield has been taking the role of the team’s big man (Holyfield is dealing with an injury of his own after suffering a broken nose during a practice).
  • Lumberjacks Drop Etech Classic Finale – In the finale of the Etech Lumberjack Classic, the Lumberjacks fell just short against Florida International, losing 58-56. This was the first loss for the Lumberjacks in three years of the tournament. It looked early that it would be another tournament victory for the Lumberjacks as they were able to fight and claw their way back into the contest after trailing early. With 12 minutes to go, the Lumberjacks lead by six points. However FIU battled back and with under two minutes left to go they held on for a 58-54 win.

Central Arkansas Guard LaQuentin Miles Has Been A Conference Standout This Season (AP)

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 3rd, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on Twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take:

 

The Week That Was:

  • Logging Miles: Lamar guard Anthony Miles was named Southland Conference Player of the Week for his performance last week. Miles averaged 24.5 points and six assists per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds in two road wins for the Cardinals. Game-by-game, Miles dropped 18 points against Tennesee-Martin, where he shot the ball for 63% on 7-11 shooting as Lamar won, 80-69. Then Friday against Tennessee Tech, he scored a career high 31 points and dished out eight assists. The Cardinals dominated TTU in that one, 85-65.  Collectively, he shot 15-25 from the field, 3-5 from three-point range and 16-19 from the free throw line last week.

Anthony Miles Has Been Great For Lamar So Far This Season

  • Roadrunners Get A Boost: In the 2010-11 season, Melvin Johnson, III, was a critical weapon for the Roadrunners down the stretch and helped them reach the NCAA Tournament. After serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules, Johnson returned to the floor. Before the season, Johnson was expected to be among the top conference players. With him in the lineup, the Roadrunners are 3-3 this season, defeating UTEP, Fresno State and Cameron. In his six games this season, Johnson has had limited time on the court, averaging 10 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
  • Sam Houston State Slammed By Injuries: The Colonials had a relatively young team coming into the 2011-12 season with only one returning starter, forward Antuan Bootle. After the opening game of the season, Bootle has been saddled with a foot injury. Against Notre Dame, forward Steve Werner was also injured. Since then, Werner has played limited minutes and did not suit up Tuesday when the team took on Dallas Christian. Not being able to pass the ball inside has really hurt the Bearkats, who are shooting just 38.5% from the field and 23.8% from beyond the arc. Head coach Jason Hooten is optimistic and feels if his team can battle through these injuries, they’ll be stronger in conference play.

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ACC Team Previews: Wake Forest

Posted by KCarpenter on October 18th, 2011

Wake Forest had a rough season this past year. No, wait, that’s not right. Bad? Terrible? Catastrophic?  I’m having a hard time capturing the scale and scope of how bad last season was. The ideal word would capture a sort of hopeless, inevitable despondency mixed with mind-blowing, frustrating futility. Imagine a turtle trying to climb up a hill. Then the camera zooms out, and the turtle is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon trying to scale the side of a cliff. Now imagine that the turtle accidentally falls onto it’s back. Now imagine a mob gathering at the top of the cliff to push boulders down onto the turtle. That’s how last season felt in Winston-Salem.

Jeff Bzdelik Has A Lot Of Work To Do After Last Season's Disaster

Wake Forest had a single win in the Atlantic Coast Conference against lowly Virginia. Wake Forest won a single game away from its home court: a neutral court win against Elon at Greensboro Coliseum. Wake Forest stunned the world by losing the season opener against Stetson and then proceeded to lose to Winthrop, UNC Wilmington, and Presbyterian. They also lost to a number of very good basketball teams, but that kind of goes without saying when Stetson and Presbyterian are giving you the business on your floor. Ken Pomeroy’s basketball efficiency statistics demonstrate that this wasn’t just a few unlucky games. This was a systemic and utter, season-long failure. Every 16-seed in last year’s NCAA tournament was significantly better than Wake Forest. For the record, that group included UNC-Asheville, Boston University, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Texas-San Antonio. Last season, in short, was an unmitigated disaster. I hope we’re clear on that. That said, this summer may have been worse.

While Jeff Bzdelik had certainly counted on losing senior starter Gary Clark, it’s unlikely he had prepared for the other losses. Another starter, Ari Stewart, announced that he was transferring to USC. Melvin Tabb was hardly a major contributor to the Demon Deacons, but on a shrinking roster, it didn’t help that he was suspended and then released from the team after facing charges of breaking/entering and fraud. Another starter, freshman sensation J.T. Terrell, left school after he was charged with driving under the influence. Finally, 7’0″ senior Ty Walker was ruled ineligible to compete with the team throughout the duration of the fall semester due to a violation of Wake Forest’s honor code. All of this happened from the months of April to September. Ouch.

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2011 NIT Season Tip-Off Bracket Announced

Posted by nvr1983 on July 20th, 2011

Earlier today the match-ups for the 2011 NIT Season Tip-Off were announced. Unlike many preseason tournaments where the team that will advance is already pre-determined in this tournament you actually have to win to advance, which apparently is a novel concept for preseason tournaments. Like most preseason tournaments it features early-round games at a regional host site with a team from each region advancing to a different destination (in this case Madison Square Garden) for the semifinals and finals.

Scoop and the Orange hope to be back at Madison Square Garden

The host teams for the regional sites (November 14-16) will be Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Stanford. Here are the match-ups for each site for the first round (full bracket here).

  • Syracuse versus Manhattan and Albany versus Brown
  • Virginia Tech versus Monmouth and George Mason versus Florida International
  • Oklahoma State versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oral Roberts versus Texas-San Antonio
  • Stanford versus Fresno State and Colorado State versus Southern Methodist
The winners of the first round games in each region will play against each other with the team and the winner of that game will advance to play in Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals (and consolation game for the losers of the semifinals) on November 23 and 25. The losers of the first round games in each region will meet on campus sites on November 21 and 22.
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RTC Live: First Four — Day Two

Posted by jstevrtc on March 16th, 2011

Tonight, two more from the First Four in Dayton. First, at 6:30 PM ET, SWAC Tournament champions Alabama State take on Texas-San Antonio, winners of the Southland Conference tournament. ASU prides itself on its defense, ranking in the top 30 nationally in turnovers forced and 2FG%. The Roadrunners, on the other hand, are more of a balanced squad and will look to speed things up. The Hornets won’t shy from a fast pace, but as good as their defense within the three-point arc is, their defense of the three point shot ranks as one of the worst in the game, so you can bet UTSA will look for long range opportunities in transition. The winner gets overall #1 Ohio State on Friday.

The second game has a pair of at-large bid earners battling for the right to face Georgetown in Chicago in 48 hours. Nikola Vucevic averaged a double-double (17.3 PPG, 10.2 RPG) this year and Alex Stepheson (10/9.2) wasn’t far from one, but they and the rest of their USC mates will have their hands full trying to keep up with a VCU team that launches threes with abandon. It will also be interesting to see if the Rams play with a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder; since the bracket was released on Sunday, VCU (along with UAB) has been treated like an uninvited guest who shows up at a party and then promptly knocks over the drink table.

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The Week That Was: Tournament Preview Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2011

Introduction

March Madness is officially here. Introduction over.

What We Learned

What a Run, Young Man.

Connecticut scoffs in the face of conventional wisdom that says it’s better for a team to be well rested before the NCAA tournament. The Huskies won five games in five days to capture the Big East Tournament title last Saturday night. And for my money, Kemba Walker locked up the Naismith Award with his play over those five games. Walker averaged 26 PPG and 38 MPG at Madison Square Garden, carrying a team that finished 9-9 in the Big East to the #3 seed in the West. We are a little concerned that Walker went only 2-16 from three during the tournament, but he countered his poor outside shooting with at least nine attempts from the free throw line each game. For those who think Walker has to be running on fumes right now, remember that he had enough left to break some ankles, rise and knock down a J to beat Pittsburgh despite playing all 40 minutes of that game. Because of their 7:20 PM ET tip on Thursday, the Huskies will have had nearly five days off to ready themselves for the Tournament. That’s plenty of time for Kemba to recharge for another run.

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O26 Primers: Conference USA, Mountain West, Southland, SWAC and WAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 9th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With three conference tournaments concluding last night, it is only appropriate that five more get underway today. Conference USA and the Southland Conference are two of the most balanced leagues in the nation, while the WAC and Mountain West were just the opposite as they were dominated at the top. The SWAC is always a bit of a mystery come Championship Week and tournament time, but Texas Southern is the class of the league this year and will no doubt do their best to bring respect to the league if they are fortunate enough to advance to the Dance.

Conference USA

The Favorite: UAB won the regular season title with a 12-4 record, but that means very little in the ultra competitive CUSA this season as five teams are just behind the Blazers. There is something to be said though about UAB’s strong play down the stretch and the steady play of Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore. These reasons alone amidst several injuries that Mike Davis‘ club has overcome makes UAB the slight favorite over the rest of the bunch.

Dark Horse: Southern Mississippi is one the teams that are nipping at UAB’s heels. Although they fell in their last three games of the regular season, Larry Eustachy’s squad proved throughout the year they can beat anyone in the conference. Having Gary Flowers roam around the pain never hurts either.

Who’s Hot: UAB has won their last four games and seven of eight heading into the tournament. As well as UAB is playing, it would be very easy for that to stop on a dime. Throughout each week during the conference schedule, it appeared that one team in CUSA was emerging as the top dog, but they would quickly fade. Can UAB keep their streak going all the way into the NCAA Tournament?

Player to Watch: Papa Dia, Southern Methodist’s senior forward all the way from Senegal, is enjoying the best season of his career as he is averaging 18.5 points and 9 rebounds a game. In each of the previous three seasons, SMU has been below .500; Dia and his teammates clearly have something to prove in this tournament.

First-Round UpsetCentral Florida over East Carolina. UCF was the nation’s favorite story in the early going as they jumped out to a 14-0 record with wins over Florida, Miami (FL), and Princeton. The Knights then went onto lose eight straight games, thus proving that their early success was a fluke. Now, UCF has won five of seven games and if they can regain that success they had in those 14 games, a victory over East Carolina is absolutely within reach.

How’d They Fare? After going 7-9 in the conference, Houston caught fire in the tournament to surprise everyone by winning the title. In doing so, the Cougars stole a bid from a team on the bubble and earned a #13 seed in the Tournament where they lost to Maryland 89-77. UTEP—the team Houston beat to advance onward—was trounced by Butler as a #12 seed.

Interesting Fact: The last team to win an NCAA Tournament game hailing from Conference USA not named Memphis was Louisville in the 2005 Tournament. The ‘Ville advanced all the way to the Final Four that year where they lost to Illinois 57-52 in the semifinals. Both UAB and Cincinnati also won Tournament games that year.

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Morning Five: Veterans Day Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on November 11th, 2010

  1. Evan Daniels has over 10,000 Twitter followers. Dave Telep has almost 11,000. This should surprise nobody. The Louisville Courier-Journal takes a look at how the reportage of college basketball recruiting is getting to be just as big a national sports obsession, and is getting to be just as competitive, as the race to sign the recruits themselves. Interesting fellows, those chaps. We thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Mr. Telep a few weeks ago, and our own informers and operatives tell us that not only is Daniels a platinum mine of recruiting information, but that he can’t go anywhere without legions of female followers running after him. We can neither confirm nor deny that Daniels started that rumor himself.
  2. According to the Lansing State Journal, the season is over. In an article yesterday, it bullet-pointed every game on Michigan State’s schedule and provided a short description on how each will play out. Shockingly, the Journal predicts the Spartans will finish the season on a 14-game winning streak that includes clinching the Big Ten regular season title on Michigan’s floor, a Big Ten Tournament title, and another national championship for Tom Izzo. Fun stuff, here — especially when their prognostications get to NCAA Tournament time. And especially if you’re an MSU fan.
  3. Conference realignment continues. Andy Katz reported yesterday that Denver, Texas State, and Texas-San Antonio are headed for the WAC for the 2012-13 season. They’ll replace Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada who left for the Mountain West. Again, a lot of this seems to be motivated by something called football, so we’ll do some investigative reporting to find out exactly what that is. If we ever knew, we forgot after October 15th.
  4. The first day of the hoops signing period didn’t yield any massive surprises, but some schools at or near the top of the overall recruiting rankings heard from each (or most) of the prospects who verbally committed to them earlier, and good things seem to come in fours. John Calipari discusses the four letters Kentucky received; Illinois also received a quartet of goodness yesterday; Virginia Tech saw ink from its foursome of top-100 signees; and here are four great write-ups on four prospects St. John’s officially signed yesterday, with one more likely to come tomorrow.
  5. West Virginia fans are steppin’ up. Correction: make that have been stepping up. On the strength of last year’s Final Four appearance, Mountaineer faithful have set a season-ticket sales record for the sixth straight year. Pretty impressive by itself, but more so when you factor in the still-limping economy, and that these babies aren’t exactly going for chicken feed. Hold on, here — two straight perfect graduation scores, a Final Four, a top-25 recruiting class…we’re going to have to try to get over to Morgantown. Sounds like these are good days to be an ‘Eer.

[Ed. note: we don’t know if he’s a Mountaineers fan, but #5 is humbly dedicated to Frank Woodruff Buckles of Charles Town, West Virginia. Currently 109 years old, he is the United States’ last living veteran from World War I. RTC extends its heartfelt gratitude on this day to all the military veterans who have served our country, whether it was yesterday or 92 years ago.]

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Making Sense of the Mountain West/WAC Debacle

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and an occasional contributor.

When last we left the BYU-instigated MWC/WAC soap opera, the Cougars’ plans to escape the MWC in favor of football independence and a WAC home for all other sports had been thwarted by Fresno State and Nevada’s decisions to leave the WAC for the MWC, leaving the six remaining WAC schools twisting in the wind and BYU, although still a desirable quanitity, undecided as to where it would wind up. In the days since, some of the details of the MWC-induced defections have surfaced, some new rumors have arisen and the futures of the WAC and BYU remain undecided. And so, a recap of the events and whispers of the last few days:

Our Money is on Thompson (left) In This One (Idaho Statesman)

  1. Thursday morning, WAC commissioner Karl Benson gave his first public comments on the Fresno State and Nevada decisions to leave the conference, and he promptly blasted them, saying that their decisions were “selfish acts” that left the conference’s future very much in doubt. He also clarified that Nevada president Milt Glick did not, in fact, sign the agreement that would have levied a $5 million penalty on the institution for leaving the conference, but did give a verbal agreement to the proposition, and Benson expects that the verbal agreement will be binding. Fresno State’s president John Welty, along with the presidents of the other six WAC institutions, signed the agreement. According to Benson, the two institutions will have to pay up within 60 days. Furthermore, because both schools missed the July 1 deadline for filing to leave the WAC, they will be expected to play the next two seasons in the conference before heading to the Mountain West.
  2. It also came out on Thursday that Utah State had also been invited to join the MWC, but had turned it down, partially due to the $5 million buyout and in part because they wanted to be in the same conference as BYU. Since then, it has been reported that Utah State is again in negotiations with the MWC about possible membership, and since Nevada and Fresno State have already left the WAC, the $5 million buyout penalty is no longer in effect. If Utah State winds up leaving the WAC, it will likely be the final nail in the coffin, as the WAC needs six members who have been together for five continuous years in order to retain its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. If USU leaves, the WAC would be down to five teams, and it would be the next little domino that would push the remaining WAC schools to plan a different future.
  3. While Utah State looks to take care of itself, Hawai’i is contemplating its own future sans the WAC, and that future may include independence, football-wise. Given the difficult travel logistics in scheduling Hawai’i, they may be better off scheduling a combination of road guarantee-games, a handful of home-and-home series and several games at the ends of seasons welcoming BCS squads as sort of a pre-Bowl bowl game. For other sports, including basketball, Hawai’i is considering perhaps joining a conference like the WCC, although the attractiveness of adding such a geographic outlier to any smaller conference is very much in question.
  4. If, by some stroke of luck, the WAC is able to keep all six of its remaining institutions on board (and about the only reasonable selling point they have now is that they could split the $10 million that may be owed by Fresno State and Nevada among the remaining teams), the WAC is still looking at taking a huge step backwards. With very few desirable FBS football schools in the west as potential targets for the conference, among the schools being discussed as possible additions to the conference are names like Cal Poly, UC Davis, Sacramento State, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, none of whom have been major factors in Division I men’s basketball.
  5. The biggest outstanding question in all of this mess is at BYU: after triggering this landslide, where exactly do they wind up? Commissioner Benson remains hopeful that BYU will still be coming to the WAC, but at this point that is little more than wishful thinking – there is absolutely no reason for BYU to take its non-football sports to that mess anymore. If football independence is still on the table, the only way that will happen is if BYU agrees to join the WCC for its non-football sports, however BYU has very little in common with the schools in that conference. While all of those WCC schools are religious schools, they are all also very small schools, but BYU has an enrollment of more than 30,000 students. In the end, while nothing is set in stone yet, MWC officials have become more and more confident over the past few days that BYU will wind up back in the MWC, at least until it comes up with a better plan a few years down the road.
  6. One interesting rumor that has been bandied about the past couple of days has been a potential MWC/Conference USA agreement to join forces in some as yet undetermined way. Among the possibilities discussed have been a full merger of the two leagues (23 teams), a combination of the most-desirable teams into something like a 20-team league, an alliance between the two leagues resulting in a championship game between the two conferences with the winner of that game earning a BCS bid, or simply a scheduling alliance between the two conferences. At this point, all of this is conjecture, but there was a “strategic” meeting between officials from both conferences on Thursday, although MWC commissioner Craig Thompson claimed that it was a previously planned meeting that had nothing to do with the events of the previous days.  This claim that should be taken with a grain of salt, given that Thompson also suggested this week that the invitations of Fresno State and Nevada to join the MWC had nothing to do with the rumors of BYU’s plans to leave for the WAC.

So, while there is plenty still to be sorted out here, we presently stand with a Mountain West Conference that looks like this (or at least will look like this in 2012): Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, TCU, UNLV and Wyoming, with the possibility that the addition of Utah State (bringing the conference to 12 teams) will create a very strong basketball conference of relatively like-minded institutions all reasonably well geographically suited to one another. The fact that the football side of the conference looks solid as well is just an ancillary bonus (at least to this basketball-minded blog). However, even if BYU slinks back to the MWC for a few additional years, they are still very much the squeaky wheel here, unsatisfied with their current crowd. While having their own dedicated cable network, The MTN, is a plus for the conference, there is still the feeling that relying solely on that channel, plus a handful of games on CBS College Sports Network and Versus, the conference is leaving money on the table. However, that television contract is going nowhere soon, as it runs through the 2015-16 season. At some point, BYU is going to find a more suitable partner for its plans, and when that happens, the MWC will be saying goodbye to BYU all over again, this time for good.

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