Prior to the 2022-23 season tipping off, it was made known that one team in the Western Athletic Conference was getting left out of WAC Vegas.
As of this past weekend, we now know who the 12 teams are that will play in the WAC Tournament. New Mexico State Chancellor Dan Arvizu made the decision to suspend the program on Saturday.
So, without New Mexico State, that gives us our 12 teams for WAC Vegas.
With that being said, who will earn the top-4 seeds?
|6||Stephen F. Austin||17||9||9||4||1.68|
As you can see, Utah Valley and Sam Houston are a little out in front of the other four in the race for a top-4 seed. Most of this is due, in large part, to non-conference wins. Utah Valley has road wins over BYU and Oregon while Sam Houston has wins over Oklahoma and Utah. Along with that, neither the Bearkats or the Wolverines have a bad home loss.
As it has been stated before, losing at home is a killer in this seeding system. SFA fans don’t like to hear this but those home losses to Alcorn State and Northwestern State are hurt. Seattle U has taken a hit in recent weeks. The Redhawks have lost five of their last seven.
GCU is in the midst of a two-game losing streak, with one of those losses coming at home to UTRGV.
That’s the basis of all this.
Let’s take a look at what is left for each team and if there are opportunities to move up.
Utah Valley 11-2 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: At Seattle U, At Tarleton, At ACU, UT Arlington, SFA
The Magic Number is three for the Wolverines. At least in terms of clinching a share of the WAC regular season crown. Utah Valley has a two-game lead in the race for the regular season title. But, the finish won’t be easy. The Wolverines embark on their second 3-game road trip of WAC play with the first stop at the Redhawk Center.
Tarleton has lost just one home game at Wisdom Gym in 2022-23. ACU has been playing better as of late. UT Arlington can get after people. And, as we all know, SFA is one of the best road teams in the country.
Utah Valley controls its own destiny. Win out and get the 1-seed at the WAC Tournament. What teams below the Wolverines need to happen is two losses on the road and lose one of those final two home games, preferably to UT Arlington. It would hurt the Wolverines more.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Sam Houston 9-4 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: At Tarleton, California Baptist, Southern Utah, At SFA, ACU
To move into the 1-seed, Sam Houston needs to win out and then become fans of their rivals. That is what it might come down to. If the Bearkats win out, that game on March 3 between rival SFA and Utah Valley could determine if the Bearkats get the 1-seed or not.
Jason Hooten’s squad got off to a rough start to WAC play with a 2-2 record. The struggle on Thursday night’s was real. However, the Bearkats have figured it out. About the only shocker is the head-scratching loss at UT Arlington two weeks ago.
The Bearkats are one of the best defensive teams in the country as well as the emphasis on playing with pace.
Seattle U 9-5 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: Utah Valley, At Grand Canyon, At Utah Tech, UT Arlington
Remember when Seattle U was 7-0 in WAC play? That seems like such a long time ago. Since that time, the Redhawks have lost five of their last seven. This includes a really weird loss at California Baptist on Wednesday night. Yes, the Redhawks were down 22-2 midway through the first half. That’s how bad it was. Perhaps Chris Victor’s squad got caught looking ahead to Saturday. Maybe it’s that Seattle had yet to get into the meat of its league schedule.
The Redhawks have a favorable schedule to stay in the top-4. It starts on Saturday night at the Redhawk Center when the Wolverines come to town. Seattle U already has a win over Utah Valley. Riley Grigsby made sure of that.
Can the Redhawks do it again? The last time Utah Valley played at the Redhawk Center, Trey Woodbury and the Wolverines walked away with an overtime win.
A loss at home on Saturday would not be a good omen with a trip to Phoenix the following Friday.
Southern Utah 9-4 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: Utah Tech, At UT Arlington, At Sam Houston, GCU, CBU
Southern Utah may have the most opportunities left to move up in the resume seeding system. The T-Birds need get wins over Utah Tech and UT Arlington to make sure that option is available. It would set up what most likely will be a Quad 1 opportunity in Huntsville on Feb. 25. Add in GCU and CBU to round out the regular season and Todd Simon’s crew has a road to a top-4 seed.
If I am being honest, and yes, I am a little bias, it would be cool to see SUU move up to the 3-seed. If this happens, and Utah Valley gets the 1-seed, it could set up the potential for a UVU-SUU final. We have all seen how good those two games have been this season.
A loss at Sam Houston won’t hurt. Home losses to either Utah Tech, GCU or CBU will really hurt. Teams have to take care of business at home.
Grand Canyon 8-6 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: ACU, Seattle U, At Southern Utah, At Utah Tech
It’s been a wild week for the Lopes. Fresh off the heels of a late-game collapse in a loss at Seattle U, the Lopes gave another one away…at home to UTRGV. Havocs were blamed. Fans are frustrated. Perhaps media members who picked GCU to win it all are, too.
The loss of Jovan Blacksher Jr. cannot result in an end-of-season-collapse. Right now, as it stands, the only reason GCU is ahead of SFA in the resume seeding system is due to the New Mexico State. Yes, the seeding system shows the forfeit points for a game that was supposed to take place next week.
Considering the Lopes, as it stands right now, are just .05 points ahead of SFA, you can see there is very little room for error down the stretch.
Stephen F. Austin 9-4 WAC Play
Remaining Schedule: UT Arlington, At ACU, CBU, Sam Houston, At Utah Valley
As you can see from the remaining schedule, SFA has a lot of opportunities to move into a 4-seed. The Jacks are .91 points behind Southern Utah for that 4-seed. In fact, as you can see from the table, SFA is 1.18 points out of the 3-seed.
Win out and SFA is easily in the top-4 heading into WAC Vegas. However, hosting Sam Houston and then heading to Orem to end the season is a pretty tall task. Let’s focus on the here and now. SFA has to take care of business in its next three to even start that conversation. All three are winnable games. One loss in the first three remaining will most likely keep the Jacks out of a first round bye.
Take care of business at home, beat the teams you’re supposed to beat and pull off an upset. It will be the difference between a first round bye and a Tuesday game at Michelob Ultra Arena.
WAC Vegas is going to be entertaining.
There are still 4-5 games to play before we get to WAC Vegas. It’s all part of a wild ride on the road to WAC Vegas.