Merry Christmas
WAC play gets underway as we bring in the New Year. Here are some answers to questions from our followers. Courtesy Tarleton Athletics.
Abilene Christian California Baptist Chicago State Dixie State Featured Grand Canyon Lamar New Mexico State Sam Houston Seattle Stephen F. Austin Tarleton State Utah Valley UTRGV

A Merry Christmas Mailbag Courtesy of WAC Hoops

From all of us at WAC Hoops Digest, we hope you had a very Merry Christmas. With all the chaos surrounding us in regard to Omicron, hopefully you were able to spend Christmas with some family or loved ones. But, with the Christmas holiday now behind us, it is time to look forward.

WAC play begins on Thursday with five games on the slate. Knocking on wood and hoping those games are played. It would be a Christmas miracle with how many games have been postponed or cancelled recently. In fact, the day before Christmas Eve, UTRGV made it known that it will not be able to open WAC play this week. That’s not the Christmas present you want to put under your tree. But, as we all know, it’s about the safety of the players and staff. So, precautions have to be taken.

With that being said, we asked you, the fans and followers, to send us your questions. And you did. So, let’s discuss those.

From Bill Harty (@BHartyNMSU)

Will the WAC modify its COVID-19 forfeit policy, given the rapid spread of the omicron variant?

This is a legit question. And the answer that I was given is the athletic directors are in discussion about it. There should be a formal post-Christmas announcement about it this week sometime. While I don’t believe games be considered a forfeit, something has to be done in order to impact seeding for the WAC Tournament. I look back at last season on the women’s side. It was agreed upon by administrators from all schools that if CBU won the WAC tournament, the next highest seed would represent the WAC at the NCAA Tournament.

Well, this is where the issue came about. Utah Valley got the 2-seed to the WAC Tournament because it played two more games than GCU. People might dispute that. But, facts matter. 10-4 is greater than 8-4. Had GCU been able to play Chicago State in the two games that were cancelled due to COVID, GCU would have potentially been the No. 2 seed. But, because those cancellations were considered no contests and not forfeits, they didn’t count toward the record for GCU. And thus Utah Valley went to its first NCAA Tournament in program history.

It’s an interesting scenario. You don’t want to hold COVID issues against an opponent. But, as we saw in 2020-21, having CONFERENCE games postponed or cancelled can have a significant impact on all teams.

From Bill Harty (@BHartyNMSU)

Jumping the gun on this, but do you expect a 19-game schedule next year with 14 teams?

This is a great question. Incarnate Word and Southern Utah both join the WAC in 2022-23. And Chicago State is leaving the WAC at the end of June. Had it just been Southern Utah as was originally the plan, this wouldn’t even be a question.

With an even number of schools in the WAC next season, this should be a simple answer. But, when looking at the scenarios, it’s a bit more complicated. As it stands, in 2021-22, WAC teams will play 18 conference games. All teams will have two nights off throughout the season. And, this is most likely going to be the scenario going forward. 18 conference games to give each team two nights off during conference play. It makes scheduling much easier for all parties involved.

What we may need to keep an eye on is if the WAC wants to play 20 conference games. This would mean cutting out one week in the non-conference slate to begin WAC play earlier. It might be an intriguing thought around the WAC. Yes, the non-conference slate matters, but playing more conference games could be intriguing for a variety of reasons.

From Patrick Padilla (@papadilla505)

The 2022 tournament bracket heavily favors the one and two seeds, who only have to win two games to be WAC champions. Why have so many byes and so little (or no) chance for any team seeded higher than 6?

Initially. my thought as that the bracket was going to eliminate any byes. When the WAC announced that on Tuesday, four games would be played at Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay, it was pretty set in stone. Two games for the 7-10 seeds on both the men’s and women’s sides. Then you have four quarterfinals for the women on Wednesday. And four quarterfinals for the men on Thursday. Then four semifinal games on Friday and the two title games on Saturday.

This would take away from the byes and heavily favoring the top seeds. But, after thinking about it, I like the way it is set up now. It makes conference play that much more important. You don’t want to have to win four games over five days, then you better finish in the top-6. It makes the match ups more intriguing during WAC play. And that is what we want. Instead of it being about winning three games in three days, it’s more about who is playing the best at the right time. The WAC has set up the bracket similar to what the West Coast Conference has set up. And why wouldn’t you want to reward teams that finish in the top-2?

For what it is worth, there is always a chance for an upset. It’s why it is called March Madness.

From Bill Harty (@BHartyNMSU)

Should one team go undefeated in conference play and a different team win the WAC tournament, is there a shot at getting a second (at-large) bid?

I answered this question on a recent podcast episode that you can listen to below. There is a lot that has to happen in order for the WAC to be a two-bid league. Just give the podcast episode a listen to hear the breakdown.

 

Christmas may be over for 2021. But, the new year is about to get started with a boom. Thursday night, conference play begins with some really good matchups. New Mexico State at Seattle. Abilene Christian at Utah Valley. Tarleton at Dixie State. It is a fun time of year. And hopefully after having a Merry Christmas, you will all have a Happy New Year!

 

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  • I like the changes to the tournament bracket this year. It has two women’s games and two men’s games each day, Tuesday through Friday. The 5 and 6 seeds get byes to Wednesday, the 3 and 4 to Thursday, and the 1 and 2 all the way to Friday.

    Part of the thinking behind the bracket is the impact of 1-8 games and 2-7 games on the eventual conference tournament winner’s NCAA tournament seeding. Adding early tournament games against low seeds (read that teams outside the top 200 in the NET) will negatively impact the overall profile of the tournament winner.

    The WCC bracket has looked like this for some time: a team finishing first or second only needs to win two games to win the tournament, while a team placing 7-10 would have to win FIVE games to get there (in the WAC this year, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

    So, yes, the tournament is stacked against the lower seeds, as it should be. This bracket rewards teams for finishing higher in the regular season standings. Makes the regular season even more important.

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