It took us awhile to get them but we’ve finally got the full slate of WAC-Conference USA Alliance matchups for this first year of the collaboration. While not all dates are known to us at this point, we do have home and aways, which means it’s time to take a deep dive into these matchups. We’ll go in order of last year’s regular season standings.
At UTEP (20-12 overall, 12-8 CUSA)…lost in tournament semifinals and WNIT First Round
Western Kentucky (19-14 overall, 14-6 CUSA)…lost in tournament semifinals and WNIT First Round
These should be two solid non-conference games for SUU and ones they have a reasonable chance of winning. UTEP was 114th in NET last year while WKU was 123rd. Both teams fell a step short of the NCAA tournament and fell in the WNIT.
Stephen F. Austin
Liberty (24-9 overall, 16-2 ASU)…Lost in ASUN tournament final and WNIT First Round
At Middle Tennessee (28-5 overall, 18-2 CUSA)…Tournament champions, lost in NCAA First Round to Colorado
Well Leonard Bishop’s team is certainly going to get a stiff test in these WAC-Conference USA alliance games. Middle Tennessee was 33rd in Net last year and won the CUSA tournament. Meanwhile, the Flames of Liberty made an ASUN tournament final and fell in the WNIT first round. I hate to say it but these are two games that the Ladyjacks are more than likely to lose after the departures of coach Mark Kellogg, Freshman of the Year Jordan Harrison, and Zya Nugent for West Virginia.
California Baptist University
UTEP (20-12 overall, 12-8 CUSA)…Lost in tournament semifinals and WNIT First Round
At Louisiana Tech (19-13 overall, 12 -8 CUSA)…lost in First Round of CUSA tournament and WNIT First Round
UTEP was 114th in NET with Louisiana Tech at 126th a year ago. Jarrod Olson’s team returns most of their core minus Trinity San Antonio (transfer to GCU), Dorcas Wu (graduated), and Brittany Klaman (graduated and became DOBO at Long Beach State). It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for UTEP’s Aaliyah Stanton who played her high school ball at Rancho Christian in nearby Temecula and won a CIF-SS championship just 20 minutes down the 60 freeway at Colony High School in Ontario.
Grand Canyon University
Middle Tennessee (28-5 overall, 18-2 CUSA)…Tournament champions, lost in NCAA First Round to Colorado
At Liberty (24-9 overall, 16-2 ASUN)…Lost in ASUN tournament final and WNIT First Round
If GCU wants to brand themselves as a basketball school, these are the types of games that Molly Miller and her retooled team will have to win. They’ll get Middle Tennessee in Phoenix and make the trip to Virginia. For the first time in program history, the Lopes were ranked in the Mid-Major Top-25 poll put out by collegeinsider.com. Middle Tennessee and Liberty are two programs who perennially appear in that poll and compete deep into their conference tournaments.
At FIU (14-19 overall, 7-13 CUSA)…lost First Round of CUSA tournament, went 2-1 in WBI with a Consolation Championship
Jacksonville State (16-14 overall, 9-9 ASUN)…lost First Round of ASUN tournament
The Trailblazers have a legitimate shot at two wins in this WAC-Conference USA series. Their toughest game should be at FIU who won the consolation bracket in WBI tournament play and last year’s Utah Tech team defeated Jacksonville State in Las Vegas by 18 points. By NET ranking, FIU is 227th while Jacksonville State is 241st.
at Western Kentucky (19-14 overall, 14-6 CUSA)…lost in tournament semifinals and WNIT First Round
Louisiana Tech (19-13 overall, 12 -8 CUSA)…lost in First Round of CUSA tournament and WNIT First Round
These two games will be a pretty good measuring stick for an ACU team that returns most of their core as they look to make moves in WAC play. CBU beat the Toppers in Riverside just before the Christmas Break a year ago. Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech has rebounded nicely under former Lady Techster Brooke Stoehr who took over the program after Tyler Summit resigned in the aftermath of an extramarital affair he had with a player and guided them to six seasons of .500 records or better in seven years.
At Jacksonville State (16-14 overall, 9-9 ASUN)…lost First Round of ASUN tournament
New Mexico State (18-17 overall, 10-8 WAC)…lost First Round of WAC tournament, reached WBI finals
Last year in Las Cruces, the Aggies and Lady Mavs put on quite the ballgame in a 69-60 New Mexico State win. Jacksonville State was 241st in the NET while New Mexico State was 163rd. I’m really looking forward to that UTA/New Mexico State game at the College Park Center.
FIU (14-19 overall, 7-13 CUSA)…lost First Round of CUSA tournament, went 2-1 in WBI with a Consolation Championship
At Sam Houston (13-17 overall, 8-10 WAC)…lost in WAC quarterfinals
While Lane Lord’s team recorded just six wins in the WAC, they were in a good number of their games a season ago. They split with Sam Houston a year ago and should have a competitive game in Edinburg against FIU.
At New Mexico State (18-17 overall, 10-8 WAC)…lost First Round of WAC tournament, reached WBI finals
Sam Houston (13-17 overall, 8-10 WAC)…lost in WAC quarterfinals
There’s a saying that goes, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” For Dan Nielsen and his Wolverines, that’s a perfect descriptor of their WAC-Conference USA Alliance matchups as they’ll take on a pair of former WAC foes who left when the school year concluded. They lost by six points in OT in their lone matchup to New Mexico State in Orem and by 15 in their lone encounter against the Bearkats. This will be a much different Wolverine team then the one that took the floor last year with major losses in the portal.