Now that UT Arlington has won a game in the WAC, naturally the first questions are about the Mavericks.
There is no shame in that. I asked for followers to send me questions for the mailbag. And I am going to answer them as best as I can.
Back to the original paragraph, UT Arlington did indeed get its first WAC win of the 2022-23 season. The Mavericks held New Mexico State to a season-low 55 points and dominated the second half. It was an impressive win for UT Arlington.
Along with the UT Arlington questions, I will be put on the spot by one of my contributors. Southern Utah is raising some eyebrows even though they shouldn’t.
So, let’s get to this week’s mailbag on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Now that UTA has won a game and has games against teams with relatively weaker records than the UVU-Seattle-SFA-Tarleton games we have played, do you see the Mavs getting on a roll and maybe being a top-8 team a couple of weeks from now?
— TheRustyMaverick (@TheRustyMav) January 15, 2023
Do You See the Mavs Getting on a Roll?
Here is what we know about UT Arlington after six game. The Mavericks can defend. Chendall Weaver is the leading candidate for WAC Freshman of the Year. Shemar Wilson is really good at rebounding the basketball. And UT Arlington is never really out of any ball game.
Here is what we also know. The Mavericks tend to have major issues scoring the basketball. Even in an 11-point win at New Mexico State, UT Arlington still only scored 66 points.
Is it possible for the Mavericks to get on a roll? Sure. But, they play UTRGV and ACU who can both score a lot of points in a hurry. So, will the Mavs be able to keep up?
I don’t know that they have a way to get into the top-8 in the WAC. It’s just a loaded conference. I am not going to say it WON’T happen. It’s just a stretch after winning one game against a New Mexico State squad that is not good right now. The good news is that four of the next five UT Arlington ball games are at College Park Center.
On the flip side, UT Arlington hasn’t been good at home this season. The Mavs have not beat a Division I opponent on their home floor in 2022-23. It’s a HUGE reason why the Mavs are in 13th in the resume seeding system.
Getting on a roll is possible. But, UT Arlington is going to have to score more to get on that roll.
After seeing this start from SUU, where do you think their season will end? How high is their ceiling? And how do you feel they match up with UVU?
— Tanner Esplin (@tesplin8) January 15, 2023
Where Do I Think SUU’s Season Will End?
Let’s break this tweet up into two parts. I will start with a prediction and talk about their ceiling.
First off, it should come as no surprise that Southern Utah is having success in the WAC. If you read the first paragraph from my season preview, I stated it perfectly.
“the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in Cedar City, UT will slide right into the top-half of the WAC and compete for a conference championship immediately.”
And it is holding true. After sweeping Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston this week, the Thunderbirds are absolutely in the mix. Tevian Jones is a Player of the Year candidate. Maizen Fausett is playing better. And Tood Simon has three other 1,000-point scorers he can put on the floor.
TEVIAN JONES ???
— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) January 14, 2023
The ceiling is extremely high. I believe Southern Utah will be in the top-4 at the end of the regular season. And the way the T-birds can score, a run to an WAC Tournament title is very possible. The key will be to stay healthy because there isn’t a ton of depth.
All five starters average 25-plus minutes so that will be something to keep an eye on.
How Does Southern Utah Match Up with Utah Valley?
Very well. If Utah Valley’s loss to Seattle U is any indication, the T-Birds matchup well with the Wolverines. Southern Utah can hit shots from the perimeter. Jason Spurgin has a high basketball I.Q. and some surprising athleticism that could cause problems in the paint.
Jan. 26 at America First Events Center is going to be a dynamite atmosphere. And, just for good measure, the last time Tevian Jones played Utah Valley, he went for 33 points.
Does Sam Houston have a shot at an at large bid if they don't win WACVegas? Who gets in UTA or NMSU? Did anyone see the season unfolding as it has? Lots of surprises, lots of injuries, and lots of basketball left to play. WACVegas is going to be fun! ? ?
— Jason Waters (@JasonWaters19) January 16, 2023
Does Sam Houston Have a Shot at an At-Large Bid?
Okay Jason, I really wish you would have come and said hello in Huntsville two weeks ago. But, it’s all good.
Let’s take this one question at a time.
To answer your first question: NO.
If you would have asked before WAC play began, the answer would have been yes. But, three losses in WAC play and still some big time games on the schedule make me believe the answer is no. Even before the three losses it was slim. Losing to Utah Valley wasn’t a bad loss. And the thought was if the Bearkats win out and lose to Utah Valley or maybe Seattle U at WAC Vegas, there was a chance at an at-large berth.
Problem is there is no respect for mid-majors not named Gonzaga or part of the Mountain West Conference. So, the WAC is already at a disadvantage. Now that Sam Houston has come back to Earth a bit, that at-large opportunity is gone.
Who Gets Into WAC Vegas: UT Arlington or New Mexico State?
Looking at New Mexico State’s schedule compared to UT Arlington…I am going to say the Mavericks.
Now, with that being said, there is always the chance the Aggies turn it around. The talent is there. It is a matter of the Aggies figuring out that playing as a team is better than playing as individuals.
Until New Mexico State figures that out, the 2022-23 season is going to continue to be a struggle.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) January 15, 2023
UT Arlington doesn’t have that issue. They understand their roles, left their egos at the door, and play well together.
So, at this point in time, I will say the Mavericks.
Did Anyone See the Season Unfolding as it Has?
Come on Jason!
There is one person who has been saying the league is deeper in 2022-23 than it has ever been. Along those lines, there has been someone who has been saying upwards of nine teams could win the WAC this season.
So, yes, there have been some who saw the season unfolding as it has. About the only surprise is the fact that the defending champs haven’t won a league game. Outside of that, everything is playing out pretty much as expected in the offseason.
And it is going to be a wild finish over the next month and a half ahead of WAC Vegas.
Which Johnson Coliseum was the best to visit?
— Matt Adkins ? (@CBB_RunThePoint) January 16, 2023
Which Johnson Coliseum Was the Best to Visit?
Thanks Matt for putting me on the spot with this question.
William R. Johnson Coliseum was better than Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
A couple of things here. SFA’s arena doesn’t have an eye sore like Sam Houston’s does. The space behind the team benches/scoring table at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum is wasted space. That is prime placing for high-paying seats. Second, the fact that SFA has a beautiful practice facility and Sam Houston does not is a game-changer. And third, the jumbotron at William R. Johnson far exceeds the video boards at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Thanks for getting me in trouble with that question. Not cool, my guy!