The second week of WAC play has come and gone. And the separation between the haves and have nots continues.
If anyone the defending champs sitting at 0-4 with three home losses to begin WAC play, raise your hand. We will not count on you for every pick of every game the rest of the season.
Injuries continue to be an issue for some teams. Utah Tech is without its point guard Cam Gooden. Tarleton was down three starters on Saturday at Sam Houston. UTRGV played, once again, without point guards Will Johnston and Adanté Holiman.
Road wins were abundant during the second week of WAC play, as well. Seattle and Utah Valley both swept their Texas road trips. GCU went 1-1 in its trip to East Texas. SUU also got a win in Texas. And CBU got its first-ever win in Las Cruces.
Here are some thoughts from around the league after the second week of play.
Who is Going to Be Left Out of WAC Vegas?
It’s never too early to speculate about who will be the lone team left out of the WAC Tournament in March. We are two weeks into league play. And three teams remain winless. UTRGV is 0-4 but has been close. The Vaqueros should have knocked off Southern Utah last week. And UTRGV had a chance down the stretch at home against Seattle U. A win is coming for the Vaqueros. It’s just a matter of when.
UT Arlington has played three of its four WAC games at College Park Center. And, the Mavericks have lost all three of those contests. They have been close. The Mavs lost 66-62 to SFA last Saturday. Then, Utah Valley beat the Mavs by eight on Thursday. The worst game was against Seattle U on Saturday in a 15-point loss. It could be a long year in the WAC for the Mavericks. UTA has to make the difficult road trip to GCU and New Mexico State this week. So, 0-6 after three weeks is a real possibility.
And then there is New Mexico State. Man alive, how the mighty have fallen. Prior to WAC play beginning last week, the Aggies had never lost more than one WAC game at the Pan Am Center in a season.
Well, in one week, the Aggies have lost three WAC games at the Pan Am Center in 2022-23. Over the past decade, the Aggies have never lost more than four conference games in a season. I am not counting the COVID year. And with a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a Thursday tip at Seattle U, 0-5 is a real possibility.
It’s safe to say, at least as of today, that UT Arlington and UTRGV will be on the cusp. But, unless something changes real quick, New Mexico State could continue to be in the discussion over the next month and a half.
Is California Baptist Back?
It was interesting last week watching some media pundits keep read receipts of people calling them out for having CBU so low in preseason polls. The Lancers began WAC play 0-2 with losses at GCU and at Seattle U which followed a bad Quad 4 home loss to Portland State to end non-conference play.
So, there were questions if the Lancers were in for a long season in the WAC.
Well, the Lancers answered that question with an emphatic ‘F-You’ to the world this week. CBU found some second-half offense in a double digit win over Utah Tech. And then the Lancers, led by Big Shot Riley Battin, knocked off New Mexico State in Las Cruces.
— California Baptist Men's Basketball (@CBUmbb) January 8, 2023
In both wins, the Lancers hit the 70-point mark. For reference, CBU is 5-1 when it scores 70-plus points. I’m not sure if any teams want to put that on the scouting report. But, when CBU gets going offensively, they can win a lot of games.
The Lancers have a big week. CBU hosts Utah Valley on Wednesday and then GCU on Saturday.
Key Players Dealing with Injuries
The injury bug is just devastating some teams. SFA has had to deal with it all season but the Jacks are finally getting healthy.
However, Tarleton, GCU, Utah Tech and UTRGV are dealing with injuries to key players.
Freddy Hicks and Jakorie Smith have missed significant time for Tarleton. And on Saturday, starting guard Shakur Daniel was out with an undisclosed injury.
As we all saw, Jovan Blacksher Jr. injured his knee on Thursday in the win over Sam Houston, which forced him to miss Saturday’s contest at SFA. The severity is unknown right now. But, if Blacksher has to miss significant time, GCU may be in a bit of trouble. The Lopes are also without starting forward Yvan Ouedraogo who suffered a fractured wrist in the win over Pepperdine.
Utah Tech has been without Cam Gooden the past two games. Gooden suffered a thigh injury against UTRGV in the WAC opener. The Trailblazers have had a week off to prepare for SFA on Thursday so there is hope Gooden is able to go.
UTRGV is without its two point guards Will Johnston and Adanté Holiman. Matt Figger’s floor generals are dealing with a back injury and calf injury. Johnston was the second-leading scorer for the Vaqueros while Holiman was playing well as a freshman.
The Week Ahead
As it was stated above, California Baptist has a big week in Riverside with Utah Valley and GCU coming to town.
Seattle U also has a big week with New Mexico State coming to the Redhawk Center. The Redhawks follow that up with a road trip to Orem to take on Utah Valley.
SFA and Sam Houston are heading to the Beehive State to take on Utah Tech and Southern Utah.
GCU hosts UT Arlington before heading to Riverside to take on CBU on Saturday.
ACU takes a Texas road trip to UTRGV on Wednesday and at Tarleton on Saturday. Saturday’s game is the second time in two weeks the Texans and Vaqueros will have played each other.
Tarleton hosts former WAC member Chicago State on Wednesday before hosting ACU on Saturday.
And UT Arlington takes the tough road trip to GCU and New Mexico State this week.
Updated WAC Resume System Seedings
You can always find the updated resume seeding system standings on the WAC website. It also shows the points earned per game for each school, as well. Here is what it looks like after the second week of WAC play.