Regular Season
GCU guard Ray Harrison has been one of the best players in WAC play in 2022-23. Courtesy GCU Athletics.

Final Regular Season WAC Hoops Mailbag of 2022-23

The final week of the regular season is here. WOW.

What a wild ride it has been over the past four months. Three trips to Texas. Two trips to Cedar City. Multiple games at the UCCU Center. Good food. Good company. And some really good ball games.

The wild, wild WAC is in the final stretch run of the 2022-23 season. WAC Vegas is one week from today – Monday. Yours truly will be there all week with coverage from Michelob Ultra Arena on Monday and Tuesday. Coverage at Orleans Arena begins on Wednesday.

I asked you to send me some questions prior to my flight out of DFW earlier today. It is now almost 6 p.m MT and I figure it is best to get to those.

It has been a pleasure to get questions all season long about this really good league. Deeper than it has been and showing that depth night in and night out.

What Were Your Preseason Predictions for the Conference?

I will just share with you the article I wrote back in November with my preseason poll and All-WAC teams.

As you can see, I had New Mexico State as my pick. The Aggies had the talent and ability. However, as we all know, some poor choices were made all season long and the season ended prematurely. I whiffed on CBU who I thought was going to be better. That is something I will own. Same with SUU, Sam Houston and Utah Valley even though I knew coming into the season all three would be dangerous.

Do with it what you will but I can admit my faults when putting out the preseason poll.

Is This Year’s WAC Tournament Field the Best We’ve Seen Since?

I’ll assume for the sake of this final mailbag you were going to say 2013-14. The answer is an emphatic YES! As we have seen over the past two months, the league is much, MUCH deeper than it has been and much, MUCH improved.

For context, the WAC sits at 11 in the KenPom conference rankings. Only the MWC, WCC, AAC and CUSA are ahead of the WAC in terms of mid-major conferences. CUSA has FAU and UAB anchoring their spot just ahead of the WAC.

No teams are in the sub-300 range, which the WAC has had for the past 10 seasons or so. Sam Houston has been in the top-60 of the NET since it came out in December. Utah Valley has been in the top-100 of the NET all season long. Southern Utah has its highest NET ever. And, I don’t mean to cause any hurt with this…all this was done with defending champion New Mexico State having an awful season.

That, to me, says all you need to know about how good this league has been in 2022-23. So, yes, this year’s tournament field is the best we have seen in the past 10-plus years.

Too Early to Get a Top-10 WAC Players of the Regular Season?

Good question. I will throw out some names. My write-up of my All-WAC selections and such will come out Sunday before I leave for Las Vegas.

  • Ray Harrison – GCU
  • Qua Grant – Sam Houston
  • Cam Huefner – Sam Houston
  • Aziz Bandaogo – Utah Valley
  • Le’Tre Darthard – Utah Valley
  • Justin Johnson – UTRGV
  • Riley Grigsby – Seattle U
  • Cam Tyson – Seattle U
  • Tevian Jones – Southern Utah
  • Maizen Fausett – Southern Utah

These are just 10 names that stick out for what they have done in WAC play. There are so many players who have had big performances, though, throughout league play. Picking the All-WAC teams will not be easy this year for the coaches.

Why Not Increase Conference to 24 Games and Decrease Non-Conference to 7?

Coaches don’t want more conference games. It is a brutal grind and coaches don’t want more of it. The thing the coaches want is balanced scheduling. Fortunately for the WAC, 2023-24 will present that opportunity with 11 teams so everyone will play each other twice. There will be 20 league games in 2022-23. As far as decreasing non-conference games, I don’t think that is a benefit to teams. Non-conference games present opportunities that you don’t get in league play.

Playing on national television, going on trips you might not otherwise, opportunity to put the brand out there, and so forth. Winning games you’re not supposed to against teams from other conferences enhances the WAC as a whole. So, there is a benefit to not cutting into the non-conference games.

As far as only using resume seeding for tiebreakers, yeah, I don’t think that will happen. I think some tweaks will come to the system but it will still be in place next season.

All-Defensive Team for the WAC?

  • Damien Daniels – ACU
  • Alex Schumacher – Seattle U
  • Qua Grant – Sam Houston
  • Shamir Bogues – Tarleton
  • Aziz Bandaogo – Utah Valley

Now, that is who I would have on my team. However, the All-WAC teams are chosen by the coaches and they know a whole lot more than I do.

Top-5 Moments of Your Weekend in Texas?

  1. Visiting College Park Center for the first time
  2. Having a double-double with bacon and cheese at Whataburger after a late flight
  3. Getting on the WAC Sports Insta story
  4. Catching Buckets napping at The Sawmill
  5. Hanging with my good friends Jaclyn and Alex at the SFA tailgate

Here is a sixth one…being asked to come on the radio broadcasts with Josh Sours at UTA and Braiden Bell at CBU.

Why is the Tourney Winner Only Projected as a 13-seed After Last Year it was a 12-seed?

I am not a bracketologist so I don’t have the answer to that.

However, I do have some theories. One…the committee hates mid-majors not from the WCC or MWC. The MWC will most likely get 4-5 teams in the NCAA Tournament this year. Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s are locks for the NCAA Tournament. However, outside of those schools, the committee does not hold other mid-majors in high esteem.

Second, the brand name isn’t there. I should say the name recognition. New Mexico State was a household name and people expected the Aggies to win considering they had been to so many NCAA Tournaments over the past 10 seasons. Okay, that is kind of a ticky tack reason. But, it’s possible.

I am not sure what the difference is. New Mexico State was 24-6 heading into the WAC tournament last season. What is interesting about that is the Aggies lost two of their final three regular season games…one of which was at Chicago State. Yes, you remember that. The Cougars had a KenPom ranking of 343 when they beat the Aggies at the Jones Convocation Center on Feb. 26. New Mexico State followed that up with a home loss to SFA before beating Utah Valley to earn a share of the regular season title.

Perhaps the big thing the Aggies had going for them were two Quad 1 wins over Davidson and over Washington State. However, that raises the question: why wouldn’t Sam Houston get a 12-seed if it wins the WAC tournament? The Bearkats have two Quad 1 road wins just like New Mexico State did. The Bearkats could possibly be 24-6 going into the WAC Tournament and have the same league record the Aggies did in 2021-22.

Along with that, Sam Houston will have a higher NET and KenPom ranking than New Mexico State did if the Bearkats win out this week.

I can’t answer that question for you, Spencer. Bracketologists would know more about that than I would. However, if Sam Houston wins the WAC tournament and doesn’t get a 12-seed…well, let’s just say it will be a complete travesty.






About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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