WAC Wednesday is going to come at us fast this week. With WAC Vegas eight days away, the implications surrounding seeding get even bigger. And on WAC Wednesday, that statement looms large in all three games on the slate.
One team is trying to stay alive in its quest to get to WAC Vegas. Another team is trying to punch its ticket to WAC Vegas. Two teams are playing each other with regular season title hopes on the line. And two others are playing to gain/keep some momentum heading into next week’s WAC Tournament.
Let’s take a look at what is on the line for WAC Wednesday.
UTRGV at Lamar – 6 p.m. MT ESPN+
This is an intriguing matchup for a variety of reasons. For UTRGV, one win means the Vaqueros punch their ticket to WAC Vegas. A loss creates a must-win situation in the regular season finale in Edinburg against Stephen F. Austin. As it stands right now, UTRGV holds a 2-game lead over Lamar. Both teams have two games to play.
For UTRGV, it is simple. Win on WAC Wednesday and you’re in. If you lose to the Cardinals, it complicates things a bit. Did anyone believe that Lamar still had a shot to go to Las Vegas? The Cardinals are winless in WAC play this year. And UTRGV already beat Lamar on Feb. 2, 2022 in Edinburg. But, there is still a slim chance for the Cardinals. If Lamar beats UTRGV and then beats CBU in its regular season finale on Saturday, and UTRGV loses to SFA, the Cardinals will be going to Las Vegas.
Yes, slim hopes, indeed. But, Alvin Brooks’ team is not out of it…YET. That is why Wednesday night at the Montagne Center is intriguing.
Stephen F. Austin at New Mexico State – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+
This the biggest game of WAC Wednesday. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. An SFA win could lead to a share of the WAC regular season crown. Or, if the Jacks win and get help, an outright regular season crown. A New Mexico State win clinches a share of the regular season title for the Aggies and the No. 1 seed at WAC Vegas. Are you seeing what is on the line for both teams at the Pan Am Center on WAC Wednesday?
New Mexico State finds itself in a must-win situation to keep pace for the regular season crown. This is due in large part to a wild loss at Chicago State on Saturday. Had the Aggies beat the Cougars, New Mexico State could have clinched the outright regular season crown with a win on Wednesday. Instead, the Aggies will have to win both games or hope that Chicago State beats Seattle and UTRGV beats SFA. Neither of those situations seem likely. So, for an Aggie team that has lost just one WAC home game since 2012, finishing the regular season at home is a big thing.
But, it won’t be easy. Stephen F. Austin comes to town on WAC Wednesday having won eight straight games. Gavin Kensmil has been on a tear. And the Jacks have gotten stellar play out of four freshmen in Latrell Jossell, Jaylin Jackson-Posey, Day Day Hall and Derrick Tezeno. Nigel Hawkins also returned to action in the win over ACU on Saturday. So, the Jacks are battle-tested, physical and get after teams defensively.
Wednesday night in the Pan Am Center has all the makings of a heavyweight boxing match. And because there is so much on the line for both teams, that is exactly what it should be.
Chicago State at California Baptist – 8 p.m. MT ESPN+
Both teams have already punched their tickets to WAC Vegas. So, that eliminates some of the drama. But, there is still some drama in regard to a late WAC Wednesday contest. For CBU, a win clinches the 8-seed for WAC Vegas. Simple as that.
For Chicago State, a win over the Lancers would give the Cougars the season sweep. And, if Chicago State goes on to upset Seattle, and CBU loses at Lamar, the Cougars would be the 8-seed. Yes, there are a lot of ‘if’s’ in there. But, speculation is always fun and creates some high-quality debates.
Both of these teams will be playing on Tuesday March 8 at WAC Vegas. It is just a matter of figuring out the seeding. A win by the Cougars and a loss by UTRGV at Lamar clinches at least the 9-seed for Chicago State. A pair of losses and a UTRGV win means Chicago State would be the 10-seed.
So, as you can see, there are still some things to play for in Riverside on Wednesday night.