When the SFA women’s basketball team finalized its 72-56 win on Thursday night, it set the stage for a big game in Cedar City on Saturday.
SFA heads North on I-15 to take on Southern Utah in a battle for first place in the WAC standings.
Or, are they?
Let’s take a look back at the offseason.
Matt Norlander of CBS Sports put together an article detailing a new resume seeding system the WAC was implementing in 2022-23.
Basically seeding for the conference tournament is not just determined by wins and losses in league play. Seeding is determined by ‘performance against all teams they face in the regular season.’
Here is an excerpt from Norlander’s article.
This means that, in the WAC, it’s possible a team could finish with the second-best league record but end up seeded, say, fourth or fifth. Conversely, a team with the eighth-best record but with a more impressive résumé of wins could be rewarded for its degree of difficulty and earn a higher seed than its place in the traditional conference standings.
Because of this scenario, it raises the question about Saturday’s big game in Cedar City.
Is it truly a battle for first place?
Southern Utah is 12-1 in WAC play. SFA is 12-2. The T-Birds host the Ladyjacks Saturday at America First Events Center.
But, is first place really on the line?
Hypothetically, yes. Hanging a regular season championship banner in the arena is always nice.
But, in the grand scheme of things, does winning the regular season title mean as much in 2022-23?
Look at the table and you can understand why that question is being asked.
|1||Stephen F. Austin||22||4||12||2||6.23|
|8||New Mexico State||13||13||8||6||-1.94|
As you can see, SFA has 3.47 more points than Southern Utah. With every game being given a value of 1, even with a win, Southern Utah would still be in a pickle.
Sure, the T-Birds would be in a good spot to win the WAC regular season crown with four games to play. But, winning the regular season won’t hold as much weight considering it might not result in the top seed at WAC Vegas.
If SFA wins on Saturday in Cedar City, this really isn’t an issue. It will create a two-way tie for the regular season crown. If both the Ladyjacks and T-Birds win out, obviously they would share the regular season crown with SFA,
However, does the regular season title matter?
Perhaps it does. There is always a chance the regular season champ doesn’t win the WAC Tournament. This situation may present an opportunity to go to the WNIT. That is a privately owned tournament so there isn’t necessarily an AQ from the WAC. However, during its unbeaten season in 2020-21, CBU got the chance to play in the WNIT.
So, along with raising a banner, playing in a postseason tournament gives the regular season crown some more meaning.
Let’s just put it this way.
Saturday is for first place in the WAC standings. Plain and simple. It is probably safe to say that both Tracy Sanders and Mark Kellogg know how big Saturday is. First place is on the line. That is something you love to see.
However, in the grand scheme of things, the game is just another game on the schedule. SUU has a chance to gain some points. But, with SFA over three points ahead of SUU, a win won’t propel the T-Birds into the top spot in the resume seeding system.
Either way, Saturday’s game at America First Events Center is sure to be entertaining.