UPDATED – Seeding Scenarios and Predictions as Regular Season Winds Down

Regular season
Jabari Rice and New Mexico State control their own destiny for the regular season crown. Courtesy NMSU Athletics.

The 2021-22 regular season is coming to a close. There is about seven and a half days left until the regular season concludes. The final game of the regular season takes place in Las Cruces. Johnny McCants will get a proper send-off in his hometown when New Mexico State hosts Utah Valley to end the regular season.

And what a regular season it has been. Sam Houston came out of nowhere after struggling through the non-conference slate. Seattle U has had its best season in nearly 40 years. We have seen Chicago State do something it has done since 2014. Surprisingly, Lamar might have the strangest yet saddest stories of the 2021-22 season. We have seen a team trail by eight with just over a minute to go only to finish on an 11-0 run to win by three. We have seen some remarkable performances from the likes of Teddy Allen, Fardaws Aimaq and Savion Flagg.

There was even a game on ESPNU this season. And one WAC school can brag that they are the lone team to lose by single digits to No. 1 Gonzaga. Yes, Tarleton we see you.

With that being said, and with the regular season winding down, it is time to look at seeding scenarios for WAC Vegas.

Aggies Control Own Destiny

If New Mexico State wins out, they are the regular season champion.

A win over Chicago State on Saturday gives New Mexico State at least a share of the regular season crown. If Seattle, Sam Houston and SFA lose on Saturday, the Aggies would be outright champs and the top seed in Las Vegas. Seattle plays at Dixie State. Sam Houston plays at GCU. And SFA hosts ACU.

All New Mexico State needs is two wins to clinch the outright title or Dixie State, Sam Houston and SFA to lose one game. The Aggies host SFA on March 2 and could clinch the outright title that night in Las Cruces.

Sam Houston, Seattle and SFA Need Help

This is where seeding scenarios get a little tricky. The problem is that Seattle only played SFA and Sam once. And the other issue is that Sam only played New Mexico State once. That is important for tiebreaker purposes.

Let’s start with Sam Houston.

The Bearkats have two games left: at GCU and home vs. Tarleton. The Bearkats need Seattle to lose again in order to jump the Redhawks for the 2-seed. The reason for this is Seattle beat both Sam Houston and SFA. So, Seattle has the tiebreaker over both. In fact, Sam Houston actually needs to win out and have SFA lose another game to be the 3-seed . The reason for that is because SFA will have played New Mexico State twice while the Bearkats only played them once. Yes, that doesn’t make sense but that is kind of the lay of the land. New Mexico State won’t count in the tiebreaker in that scenario. So, it would go to the next highest in the WAC standings. Both SFA and Sam Houston beat GCU. So, that is out. And if SFA beats ACU on Saturday, both SFA and Sam Houston would be 2-0 against the Wildcats. So, it would then drop to Utah Valley. And SFA beat Utah Valley while Sam Houston lost by one to the Wolverines.

So Sam Houston needs a bit of help to earn the 2-seed. And, the Bearkats have to go into GCU Arena and knock off the Lopes. Not an easy task.

Prediction: 5-seed

Scenario for Stephen F. Austin

Win out and hope that Seattle and Sam Houston stumble. That’s the easiest way to the 2-seed for the Lumberjacks. But with a road game looming at New Mexico State next Wednesday, that is easier said than done. KenPom predicts Sam Houston will lose at GCU and that SFA will lose at New Mexico State. If that comes to fruition, SFA will get the 4-seed because of its win over Utah Valley. That is assuming the Lumberjacks beat ACU on Saturday. If SFA falls at home against ACU on Saturday, and both the Jacks and Bearkats finish in a tie, the Bearkats would get the 4-seed. This is because Sam Houston swept ACU.

Prediction 4-seed

Scenario for Seattle

So, for Seattle to be the 2-seed, they simply have to win out. The Redhawks have the tiebreaker over both Sam Houston and SFA. Pretty simple for the Redhawks who are at Dixie State on Saturday and finish with a home game against Chicago State.

Prediction: 2-seed

Who Will Be Playing on Tuesday?

Remember, the 7-10 seeds play on Tuesday March 8 in the first round. And they would have to win five games in five days to win the WAC Tournament. The bracket was put together like this to protect the top seeds in the regular season.

Right now, we know that California Baptist, UTRGV and Chicago State will be playing in the first round. The question is: who will the fourth team be? Right now, it is Utah Valley.

Scenario for Utah Valley

The Wolverines need a bit of help and to help themselves, too. For Utah Valley to move up to perhaps the fifth seed, the Wolverines need to win out. Much easier said than done. Utah Valley hosts California Baptist on Saturday. Then, takes arguably the toughest road trip of the season to GCU on Thursday and New Mexico State to close out the regular season. If Utah Valley wins out, the Wolverines would also need ACU to lose in order to be the 5-seed. Right now, KenPom has Utah Valley finishing 1-2. If that is the case, Utah Valley would need ACU to finish 0-3 in order to be the 6-seed. That probably won’t happen considering ACU finishes with a pair of home games.

Prediction: 7-seed

Regular Season
Justin Harmon and Utah Valley need some help to move up for WAC Vegas seeding purposes. Courtesy UVU Athletics.

Scenario for GCU

Again, simply win out and GCU is the 5-seed. And if some things happen, the Lopes could jump into a higher seed. If GCU wins out and Sam Houston, Seattle and SFA all lose twice, the Lopes could actually be the 2-seed. GCU hosts Sam Houston on Saturday so one of these two teams will lose. However, if GCU, Sam Houston and SFA finish with the same record, GCU gets the tiebreaker because the Lopes beat Seattle while Sam Houston and SFA lost at Seattle. So, whoever wins on Saturday at GCU Arena, will most likely finish in the top-4. GCU doesn’t lose at home and Sam Houston hasn’t been really good on the road.

Prediction: 3-seed

And Now for ACU

ACU has won seven of its last eight games. In fact, on Thursday, the Wildcats forced 37 turnovers. Yes, 37! In a win over Lamar. And now the Wildcats go on the road to SFA on Saturday before finishing up at home with Dixie State and Tarleton. ACU needs quite a bit of help to move any higher. A loss on Saturday and a Utah Valley win would move the Wolverines ahead of the Wildcats. If ACU and Utah Valley tie, ACU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. If ACU and GCU tie, GCU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. And in order to move any higher, ACU needs a win over SFA Saturday and the Jacks to lose again at some point. In that scenario, ACU would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jacks.

Prediction: 6-seed

Predicted Tuesday Matchups for WAC Vegas

10 – Chicago State vs. 7 – Utah Valley 8:30 p.m. PT

9 – UTRGV vs. 8 – California Baptist 6 p.m. PT

These two games will be played at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay.

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