The new WAC seeding system is quite the hot topic now that non-conference play is wrapping up for most schools. And why shouldn’t it be? It is new, and there are still a lot of questions surrounding its makeup. Add in that teams don’t schedule the same in non-conference play and you can see why there is some confusion.
As someone who covers the WAC more than anyone else, there were questions I had, as well.
But, some of those questions have been answered. The seeding system takes into account the NET of opponents. And the seeding system won’t determine the regular season champ. Along those lines, the seeding system gives each game a 1 value so you can either earn or lose points based off the result. And the value amount depends on the NET ranking of the opponent plus the location of the game.
Obviously, road wins earn more points than home wins, especially over teams higher in the NET.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the seeding system winners and losers from no-conference play.
Sam Houston, Utah Valley Sit at the Top
Some have said that Sam Houston is overrated. Well, beating two Power 5 teams on the road, both of whom are in the top-60 of the NET would say otherwise. The two losses – true road games against two teams in the top-60 of the NET.
Along with that, the Bearkats have beaten the other Division I teams on their schedule by an average margin of 27 points.
So, the Bearkats got the upset wins it needed to position itself at the top of the resume seeding system. And they have backed it up by blowing out teams of equal or lesser ranking. Show me any other team that has done that and I will admit I am wrong.
Utah Valley is in a similar boat. Sure, they haven’t beat similar or lesser opponents by 27-plus points. But, they have won games they were supposed to win. Well, outside of one. That Morgan State loss at the Jamaica Classic might be the difference between a 2-3-or-4 seed at WAC Vegas.
The Wolverines got a big win at Oregon to finish non-conference play. And now Utah Valley becomes fans of BYU, Oregon, and others to increase their point value for those true road wins.
What this seeding system has set up is a HUGE matchup to open WAC play on Dec. 29 in Orem. Sam Houston visits Utah Valley in arguably the best game of opening weekend. It will be a Quad 1 opportunity for Utah Valley and a Quad 2 opportunity for Sam Houston.
Utah Tech Making a Statement
Another winner of the WAC resume seeding system is Utah Tech. The first month and a half or so was one brutal road trip after another for the Trailblazers. But, it actually paid off. The Trailblazers got two true road wins at Idaho and at Weber State. Add in the Trailblazers had road games at No. 12 Arizona and Utah State who is in the top-20 in the NET, and it helps.
As you can see in the resume seeding system, Utah Tech lost just .10 points combined from those two games. One bad loss against North Dakota in Grand Forks will hurt. But overall, the Trailblazers didn’t really take a HUGE hit in the non-conference slate like some others in the league have.
Jon Judkins crew has won five straight and open WAC play by hosting UTRGV on Dec. 29 at the Burns Arena.
Lack of Rio Grande Rivalry Games Hurts Aggies
It was the right call by New Mexico and New Mexico State officials to cancel the Rio Grande rivalry games between the Lobos and Aggies. After the Mike Peake incident, it was the absolute correct decisions.
Unfortunately, not playing those two games could come back to haunt the Aggies. Here is why…it was a Quad 1 or possibly Quad 2 opportunity for the Aggies. A loss wouldn’t hurt as much but a win would have been huge in terms of point value. The Lobos currently sit at 18 in the NET. And let’s say the Aggies split with the Lobos. Well, they have a Quad 1 or Quad 2 win under their belt. Plus, as good as New Mexico has been, any time the Lobos win it would have helped the Aggies.
But, neither of the two games were played. Thus, the Aggies missed out on an opportunity to boost their seeding system resume.
Losers: CBU, SFA, ACU
First, for CBU.
Home losses are a killer and losing a Quad 4 game at home to end non-conference play is, well, not good. The loss to Portland State on Thursday led to CBU losing .68 points, dropping from -.05 to -.73. A difference between the 7-seed and 10-seed. And when you play eight of your non-conference games at home, you have to win all of them.
The Lancers have two big home losses in the non-conference slate. Long Beach State beat the Lancers on opening night and then the loss to Portland State to end non-conference play. -1.31 points because of two home losses. It is a killer.
Second, for SFA.
No Quad 1 opportunities hurt. And sure, most teams in America do not want to play SFA, especially Power 5 schools. And, prior to the season starting, Furman was possibly going to be that Quad 1 opportunity. So, you can only play who is on your schedule. But two big home losses to Alcorn State and Northwestern State hurt. -1.43 points is the difference between the 11-seed and the 5-seed.
Yes, SFA is banged up and has been all season. So, keep your eye on the Jacks as they get into late January and early February.
Third, for ACU.
Simply put…outside of Kansas State and Texas A&m, the schedule wasn’t great for Brette Tanner and the Wildcats. Add in that the Wildcats went 0-3 in Las Vegas against three teams in the sub-150 category in the NET and you can see why ACU is where it is in the resume seeding system standings.
Yes, ACU has won six of its last seven heading into WAC play. But, the best win of those six was against Northern Arizona who is 247 in the NET. Three of the wins have come against non-DI opponents, too.