The 2022-23 season has flown by. Perhaps that is because basketball in the WAC has been quite entertaining over the past four months. With that being said, the final night of the regular season is upon us.
Friday night is the final night of the regular season in the Western Athletic Conference. The women had their final night of the regular season on Thursday. As you know by now, the bracket is set for the women’s WAC Tournament, which begins on Monday.
So, what are fans in for on this final night of the regular season? Well, the top two teams are still in a battle for the 1-seed. It could potentially come down to 1/100ths of a point in the final seedings. Three teams are battling for two spots to earn a bye to the quarterfinals on Thursday in Las Vegas.
Two teams have already completed WAC play and are just waiting for results of Friday night to determine when and who they will play next week.
One team, UT Arlington, is already set as the 12-seed. A win on the final night of the regular season won’t change that. Tarleton is already locked into the 7-seed for WAC Vegas. The Texans have too big of a lead over CBU and are too far behind SFA to move up or down.
So, what are we in store for on the final night of the regular season?
Abilene Christian at Sam Houston – 6 p.m. CT ESPN+
This is an interesting game on Friday night in Huntsville. First, Sam Houston is banged up. That might actually be an understatement. Tristan Ikpe won’t play. Lamar Wilkerson is highly doubtful, and Donte Powers is dealing with a rib injury. All this on top of the fact the Bearkats lost Jaden Ray earlier in WAC play with a blown out knee. Second, ACU hasn’t played a game in almost a week. The Wildcats were supposed to play New Mexico State this week. However, we know what the situation is there.
So, ACU comes in fresh. Sam Houston comes in beat up. It creates quite the storyline. Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten doesn’t even know what his starting lineup will be on Friday night. The Bearkats are in the running for the 1-seed at WAC Vegas. However, the margin for error is slim to none if the Bearkats want to be the top seed.
ACU, on the other hand, is hoping to get rolling heading into WAC Vegas. As you all know, the Wildcats reeled off three straight wins in Las Vegas last season before falling to New Mexico State. Can Brette Tanner’s crew do it again? Facing a banged up Bearkat squad might be just what the doctor ordered.
Stephen F. Austin at Utah Valley – 6 p.m. MT ESPN+
Talk about being banged up, SFA comes limping into Orem in the regular season finale. In the span of four days, SFA lost Day Day Hall and Nana Antwi-Boasiako for the season. Both players started nearly every game for the Jacks this season. Kyle Keller said on Thursday night the Jacks are just going to get after it and play SFA basketball on Friday night. The Jacks have nothing to lose and a little to gain. SFA sits at six in the resume seeding system. A win coupled with a GCU loss could move the Jacks up to five.
However, the job won’t be easy. It is Senior Night for Utah Valley and the Wolverines have a chance to win the regular season title outright. Along with that, Utah Valley has a chance, depending on the numbers to possibly earn the 1-seed at WAC Vegas. How will SFA handle Utah Valley’s size? Aziz Bandaogo is arguably the Defensive Player of the Year in the WAC. His length and athleticism will be tough. Jalil Beaubrun will have his hands full. Keep an eye on that matchup.
Friday night in Orem could turn into a track meet. Keller may throw out four guards at any given time. Mark Madsen will counter with his stable of guards led by Trey Woodbury.
Keep an eye on the conditioning of SFA. The Jacks are playing their third game in seven days and at altitude. That could come into play Friday night.
Last Home Game!! As a reminder our ticketing system is still down so come watch the WAC Champions tonight on Senior Night for FREE!
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) March 3, 2023
California Baptist at Southern Utah – 7 p.m. MT ESPN+
California Baptist scored 88 points on Wednesday in a win over UTRGV. This was less than a week after losing a pair of games where the Lancers didn’t score 60 points. Which CBU team will show up on Friday night in Cedar City?
Unfortunately for the Lancers, it may not matter. There are two big reasons why. First, SUU lost its first home WAC game of the season on Wednesday after leading by 14 midway through the first half. Second, it is Senior Night for a group that has been pretty darn successful in Cedar City.
Tevian Jones has a chance to make a case for WAC Player of the Year. Maizen Fausett has been Mr. Dependable. Dee Barnes is playing much better recently. Can CBU keep up with the T-Bird offense? Southern Utah won the first matchup, 72-71, in Riverside.
On Senior Night, the T-Birds have a huge chip on their shoulder. It may be difficult for the Lancers to keep up.
Sr. night @ 7pm! We honor 5 that led us to:
⚡️4 straight winning seasons (1 in previous 18)
⚡️62-27 last 3 seasons, 39-5 @ home, 37-14 conference
⚡️’21 Big Sky Championship
⚡️’22 Big Sky 2nd
⚡️’23 WAC 3rd currently
⚡️1st 4 postseason wins in D1 era
⚡️Highest NET rank ever @ SUU https://t.co/0Sagw9YoQ1
— Todd Simon (@CoachTsimon) March 3, 2023
Grand Canyon at Utah Tech – 7 p.m. MT
This might be the best game on the final night of the regular season. GCU is coming off a big road win at Southern Utah on Wednesday. Utah Tech comes in off a 37-point beatdown of Seattle on Wednesday.
Last season, the Trailblazers beat the Lopes, 61-60, to spoil GCU’s hopes of sharing the regular season title. This year, the Trailblazers have two things they can do. First, Utah Tech could keep GCU from earning a top-4 seed at WAC Vegas. Second, the Trailblazers could move up a spot to nine with a win and an ACU loss.
GCU has a chance to move into the top-4 in the resume seeding system if things play out. The Lopes need a win and a loss by either Seattle U or Southern Utah to earn that top-4 seed. Ray Harrison has been dynamite in WAC play for the Lopes. In fact, it is safe to say Harrison will be in the Player of the Year discussion after Friday night.
Can Utah Tech shoot it like it has at Burns Arena? On Wednesday, Cam Gooden and Tanner Christensen were a combined 11-11 from the field. The Trailblazers shot 67 percent from the field and 3-point range in the first half.
Keep an eye on this ball game. It is going to provide instant entertainment.
UT Arlington at Seattle U – 7 p.m. PT ESPN+
The final game on the final night of the regular season. There isn’t a ton of intrigue here. UT Arlington is locked into the 12-seed with or without a win. Seattle U, on the other hand, needs a win to secure a top-4 seed. A home loss coupled with a GCU and SUU win most likely knocks the Redhawks out of the top-4.
Chris Victor’s team has been hit or miss lately. The Redhawks got a 65-54 win at GCU last Friday. However, Wednesday night, the Redhawks got blown out by Utah Tech. How will Riley Grigsby and Emeka Udenyi fare in their final game at the Redhawk Center?
3-point shooting might be on display on Friday night. UT Arlington is taking more shots from distance under interim head coach Snoop Johnson. Seattle U loves to shoot from the perimeter. Whoever knocks down more will go into WAC Vegas with a win.