The 2023 WAC Tournament semifinals tip off at the Orleans Arena on Friday afternoon. Two women’s games and two men’s games.
All four semifinals feature some familiar faces and some unfamiliar faces.
Here is some news and notes ahead of Friday’s semifinals.
Two Schools Have Both Teams in the Semifinals
There will be an abundance of purple and white for a pair of semifinal games. Both the GCU men and women are still alive. The GCU men face 1-seed Sam Houston in the first men’s semifinals. In the second women’s semifinal, the GCU women take on regular season champion Southern Utah.
Along with GCU, Southern Utah has both of its teams still alive. The Southern Utah women take on GCU while the SUU men take on Utah Valley in the semifinal nightcap.
Wolverines Looks for First Trip to Title Game
Since joining the WAC prior to the 2013-14 season, Utah Valley has not played in the WAC Tournament title game. The Wolverines lost in the semifinals in 2021. In 2022, Utah Valley lost in the second round to ACU. Utah Valley lost to GCU in the 2018 semifinals. In 2019, the 25-win Wolverines lost again to GCU in the semifinals.
As the regular season champs in 2014, Utah Valley lost in its first game of the WAC Tournament.
Can Mark Madsen and the regular season champs earn a trip to their first-ever WAC title game? It will be challenging with rival Southern Utah standing in their way.
New Year, Same Teams in the Semifinals
Since becoming eligible for the WAC Tournament in 2018, the GCU men have played in every semifinal round at the WAC Tournament. The lone time the Lopes didn’t play in the semifinals was 2020 when the tourney was cancelled. In fact, the GCU men are 3-1 in the semifinals. The lone loss came in 2022 in a barn burner against New Mexico State. GCU has two wins over Utah Valley. The other win came against Seattle U in the 2021 semifinals.
For the third straight season since becoming eligible for the WAC Tournament, the CBU women are in the semifinals. The Lancers handled New Mexico State in 2021 in their record-setting 26-1 season. In 2022, CBU lost to GCU in their quest to return to the title game. Now, Jarrod Olson’s group takes on top-seeded SFA for a chance to play for another WAC title.
The GCU women are also in the semifinals once again under Molly Miller. Since Miller took over prior to the 2020-21 season, GCU had made three straight semifinal appearances. GCU beat Utah Valley in the 2021 semifinals. In 2022, GCU beat CBU before losing to SFA.
SFA is playing in a semifinal game for the sixth straight game dating back to the Southland Conference days. The last time Mark Kellogg’s group did not play in a semifinal was 2015-16. It is the second straight year SFA is appearing in the WAC semifinals. Sustained success as Kellogg puts it.
Pair of Rubber Matches
Two of Friday’s four semifinals are rubber matches between the two teams.
WBB: SFA vs. CBU – Lancers won the first matchup, 79-64, in Nacogdoches. SFA returned the favor on Jan. 28 with an 82-74 win in Riverside.
MBB: SUU vs. UVU – T-Birds won 79-67 in Cedar City on Jan. 26. The Wolverines returned the favor on Feb. 11 with a 90-83 win.