The first NET rankings of the 2022-23 season came out on Monday morning.
And, there wasn’t too many surprises about where certain teams landed.
However, the Sam Houston Bearkats starting out as a top-10 NET team was a bit surprising. It is great for Jason Hooten and the Bearkats because seeding for WAC Vegas is determined by where teams finish in the NET. So, starting that high has its advantages. And, in reality, the Bearkats earned that spot. Sam Houston already has two Quad I road wins this season at Oklahoma and at Utah.
Utah sits at 19 and and Oklahoma is at 46 in the first NET rankings of the 2022-23 season. No other WAC school has one Quad I win thus far in the non-conference slate. The Bearkats have another opportunity on Tuesday for a Quad I win when Sam Houston travels to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State.
The Bearkats are 7-1 with the lone loss at Nevada who sits at 43 in the first NET rankings. A bad second half led to a double-digit loss at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
Seattle U comes in at 61. That is a good starting point for the Redhawks. Cam Tyson has been dynamite and it would seem the road win at Portland has a lot to do with the Redhawks ranking. Seattle U is 2-1 in true road games with one of the wins coming at Portland who is 97 in the NET. Because of that Quad II win, the Redhawks get the nod over Tarleton and GCU in the first NET Rankings.
Tarleton Comes in at 100 and GCU at 104. This is a big week for both schools in terms of the NET. Tarleton heads to Baylor on Tuesday with a Quad I road win opportunity. And GCU hosts Loyola Marymount (105) and North Texas (68) this week. Technically the North Texas is a neutral site game as it is at the Footprint Center as part of the Jerry Colangelo Classic. Coming off a quality road win at Wyoming on Saturday, the Lopes need to play well this week to move up.
New Mexico State has a big week, too. Yes, the Aggies play a non-DI on Monday. Woo Woo. But, then they have back-to-back opportunities for Quad II wins and an opportunity for a Quad I win on Dec. 14 at Saint Mary’s.
Utah Tech coming in at 144 ahead of teams like SFA, SUU, CBU and Utah Valley is really good for the Trailblazers. A lot of that is the fact the Trailblazers have played seven road games thus far. The win over Weber State on Saturday in Ogden was a decent win.
But, this ranking just goes to show that playing more road games, and winning a few of them, has more rewards than stacking home games. Utah Tech has played one home game thus far. They have four to end their non-conference slate so that will change. Either way, it’s a good place to start for the Trailblazers.
Here is something to remember…the NET rankings will determine seeding for WAC Vegas. Only 12 teams make the WAC Tournament. As it stands as of Monday, ACU is on the outside looking out. Now, with that being said, the NET rankings change daily. A big road win by the Wildcats on Tuesday at Kansas State would vault the Wildcats up the NET. It would be a Quad I win if ACU is able to steal one in Manhattan.
It could be a make or break type of situation for Seattle U in its final stretch of non-conference games. The Redhawks are at North Dakota (267) on Saturday. Then, Seattle U travels to Corvallis to take on Oregon State (224), hosts Alcorn State (197) before heading to Hawaii for Christmas at the Diamond Head Classic. The Redhawks face Utah State (15) and then either SMU (282) or Iona (50).
Most every team in the WAC has some quality games remaining on their non-conference schedules. The next two weeks are an opportunity for the WAC to make noise around the country.