The race for WAC Vegas is going to be interesting down the stretch of league play. 12 teams make it to WAC Vegas. This means someone is not going to Sin City to play in the WAC Tournament.
Right now, the race for that final spot is separated by just one game.
So, with that being said, who will make it to WAC Vegas?
Let’s see if we can make a case for each team as well as look at WAC Vegas tiebreakers.
UT Arlington – 3-7 WAC
We will start with the Mavericks. UT Arlington is coming off a win at home over Sam Houston. It was a rare home win the Mavericks against Division I competition. Two things for hopes of going to WAC Vegas.
The Mavs own the tiebreaker over New Mexico State due to the head-to-head matchup. Second, the Mavs play arguably the most difficult stretch of their WAC schedule to finish out the regular season. UTA plays Tarleton on Monday afternoon in a makeup from Wednesday.
Then, the Mavs go on the road for three straight. At UTRGV, at Sam Houston and at SFA. Not really what you want to do when trying to qualify for WAC Vegas. The Mavs then come home to host SUU and Utah Tech before finishing on the road at Utah Valley and at Seattle U.
Monday afternoon and Thursday at UTRGV are almost must-win situations for the Mavs. If UT Arlington can win both, they would most likely solidify their spot at WAC Vegas.
UTRGV – 3-8 WAC
The Vaqueros have won two of their last three games, and were about 15 seconds from that being three straight wins. UTRGV is the only team to win at Wisdom Gym this season after a 68-65 win over Tarleton on Saturday.
As of right now, the Vaqueros are 11th if we break down tiebreakers. Both Utah Tech and UT Arlington have wins over the Vaqueros. So, UTRGV needs a win when it hosts UT Arlington on Thursday. And then the Vaqueros need a win over Utah Tech on Feb. 23 in Edinburg.
Along with that, UTRGV also needs to win in Las Cruces on Feb. 18 to hold the tiebreaker.
UTRGV finishes out the regular season at home vs. UT Arlington, and SFA before heading to GCU and New Mexico State. The Vaqueros play two if their final three games at home with Utah Tech and Tarleton visiting before finishing out WAC play at CBU.
Utah Tech – 3-8 WAC
The Trailblazers got a big win over Southern Utah on Saturday. Utah Tech made sure it was still ahead of New Mexico State for that final spot at WAC Vegas. It is the first year the Trailblazers are eligible for the WAC Tournament.
The Trailblazers have a quick trip to Seattle U before coming back to St. George to host Tarleton on Saturday.
Similar to UT Arlington, the Trailblazers have a rather difficult February and end to WAC play.
The Trailblazers play Seattle U twice, a trip up I-15 for the rematch with SUU, and a Texas road trip to UTRGV and UT Arlington. Utah Tech finishes WAC play at home against Grand Canyon.
That is why the win over SUU on Saturday was so important. Utah Tech has to steal some wins to stay in the mix for that final spot at WAC Vegas.
New Mexico State – 2-9 WAC
The Aggies are right back in the thick of the race to WAC Vegas. Two weeks ago, it looked like the Aggies were dead in the water. But, a week in between games to get ready for a trip to Orem may have been what was needed.
The Aggies went toe-to-toe with the frontrunners in Orem. Perhaps that boosted some confidence. Since that 5-point loss, the Aggies have reeled off back-to-back wins over SFA and Seattle U.
However, the Aggies are still on the outside looking in. New Mexico State needs wins and some help. Unfortunately, the Aggies didn’t get any help on Saturday from Sam Houston, Southern Utah or Tarleton.
So, the Aggies need to win games and need the three teams ahead of them to lose. Simple, right? Well, if Saturday was any indication, nothing is simple.
Utah Tech and UT Arlington both hold the tiebreaker over the Aggies. New Mexico State does not play either team again in the regular season. So, that is strike one.
The Aggies play UTRGV just once, as well. So, if the Aggies don’t beat UTRGV on Feb. 18 in Las Cruces, there is a good chance the Aggies don’t go to the WAC Tournament.
New Mexico State is at Grand Canyon and CBU this week. Then the Aggies come back to the Pan Am for three straight and the final game against GCU as conference foes. New Mexico State finishes up WAC play at ACU and at Tarleton.
So, Who Makes It to WAC Vegas?
It is so hard to make a pick in this race. Schedules are all over the place. Anything can happen in this league as we have seen. Maybe we will know more after week seven of WAC play. For now, the lone fact is that New Mexico State has a bit of a climb if it is to qualify for WAC Vegas.