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Xavier Pinson
Xavier Pinson is now eligible after the NCAA cleared him on Monday ahead of New Mexico State's season opener. Courtesy NMSU Athletics.

Pinson Eligible, Pleasant Out, and More Season Opener News

New Mexico State got some really good news regarding Xavier Pinson ahead of its season opener on Monday night. Abilene Christian will be without one of its best players in its season opener. Lines for a pair of WAC games have changed since late Saturday night.

It is Monday! And the 2022-23 season is underway. Let’s get to some early news from around the league before each season opener tips off.

Aggies Get HUGE News Ahead of Season Opener

LSU transfer Xavier Pinson is one of the top transfers to the WAC in 2022-23. But, there was a snag when he enrolled at New Mexico State. There were some eligibility issues related to academics. So, Pinson had to miss the Aggies exhibition last week. And there was uncertainty that he would not be eligible to play in the season opener on Monday.

Early Monday morning, head coach Greg Heiar and the Aggies got the news they were waiting for. Pinson has been cleared by the NCAA and will play on Monday night in the season opener.

Pinson averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 assists while starting in 27 games at LSU last season. In 2020-21, Pinson averaged 13.6 points, 2.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds while at Missouri. There are high expectations for the 6-2 point guard out of Chicago, Illinois.

New Mexico State hosts New Mexico Highlands in the season opener on Monday. Tip is set for 7 p.m. MT on ESPN+. The Aggies head to El Paso to take on rival UTEP on Saturday.

ACU Forward Will Miss Monday Night

The 2022-23 season opener will not be pleasant for ACU forward Joe Pleasant. Per Brette Tanner, Pleasant is out for Monday night’s season opener against Jackson State. Pleasant is dealing with a concussion and there is some issue with his back, as well. They are just waiting for doctors to clear him.

Pleasant returns to ACU after a one-year trip to Wichita State. The 6-7 senior was a catalyst in helping ACU win the Southland Conference Tournament in 2020-21. And Pleasant hit the game-winning free throws in an opening round 2021 NCAA Tournament upset over 3-seed Texas.

Sun Belt/MAC Give Middle Finger to the WAC

In May, WAC commissioner Brian Thornton and associate commissioner Drew Speraw came up with a really good idea. You know, bringing back those ‘Bracket Buster’ games we used to see on ESPN late in the season.

There were similarities but also some differences. Instead of one game, teams would get two games, one home and one away, against a quality non-conference opponent.

“It’s a home and away [setup], regardless of conference affiliation, regardless of ranking, the best teams are playing ‘like’ matchups,” Thornton told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. “A Quad 2 team plays Quad 2 team. It’s merit-based. You earn your way in. … You get two great games you wouldn’t be able to get on your own.”

Well, on Monday, the Sun Belt Conference and MAC agreed to something very similar. The ‘MAC-Sun Belt Challenge’ is what it is referred to. 12 MAC teams will play 12 SBC teams twice each season, one home and one away.

Sound familiar?

Well, it’s exactly what Thornton and Speraw pitched to conferences and coaches. But as Norlander said in the thread below, it was dead for now and the reason was skittish coaches.

Per a source, the Sun Belt Conference said no to the idea. And the MAC never committed to the idea. This in turn made it easier for other conferences to say no to it. Yet, here both conferences are, scheduling a home-and-home against one another.

Two thoughts on this development. First, both are FBS football conferences so this could be an entitlement thing. They may see the WAC as not up-to-par with them as an FCS conference. Second, per the KenPom rankings, the WAC is simply better than both the MAC and Sun Belt, which may have caused them to say no the idea.

Either way, it was a big middle finger to the Thornton, Speraw and the WAC.


About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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