A win against a Power 6 opponent will go a long way for the WAC. Pretty simple task, right? As Lee Corso says, “not so fast, my friend.” WAC teams are winless against Power 6 opponents and in all reality haven’t been much better against NCAA Division I opponents.
There have been flashes of life from each team. But, there have also been some shake-your-head performances, as well. Utah Valley got perhaps the best non-conference win of the season at Alabama-Birmingham on Friday night. UTRGV went 0-3 in its trip to Corpus Christi for the Islander Invitational and the South Texas Showdown.
Cal Baptist went toe-to-toe for a half against PAC-12 foe Cal before losing 82-62 to the Golden Bears. Grand Canyon picked up its first win of the season against Arkansas Pine-Bluff. New Mexico State beat Southern University earlier in the week but ran into a very good Arizona team on Sunday and lost by 30 to the Wildcats in Tucson.
Jim Hayford’s Seattle team took on Syracuse on Saturday night and lost by 22. But, Hall of Fame Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had some good things to say about the Redhawks.
“I thought that team was good but as the game started they were even better. Really good players. At the end of the year, they’ll be a really good team.”
Despite these good things, the WAC is a combined 15-23 on the season. And, only four of the 15 wins have come against NCAA Division I opponents. So, against Division I opponents, WAC teams are 4-22. This is not a good statistic.
Against Power 6 opponents, WAC teams are 0-8 on the season. Games against Kentucky, Kansas, Texas Tech, Ole Miss (2), Florida State, Creighton, Washington State, Washington, Mississippi State, Missouri and Oklahoma remain.
And the Answer Is……
So, will the WAC get a win against a Power 6 opponent in 2019-20? And the answer is doubtful.
Every game is either on the road or at a neutral site. And let’s be honest, the teams listed above aren’t the cupcake teams of their respective conferences. Eight of the 11 teams played in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Seven of the 11 teams are in the KenPom top-50. Washington and Ole Miss are just outside it at 53 and 54, respectively. And, Mississippi State is at 57.
And the combined record of these 10 schools? Yep, 25-6.
Is it possible for an upset? Absolutely. Just ask Evansville or even South Alabama who hung with Auburn. Slip ups can and possibly will happen. Is there a WAC team ready to pounce if it does?
Utah Valley plays at Kentucky on Monday night. The last time the Wolverines were in Rupp Arena, the unthinkable nearly happened. Utah Valley led by 12 with just over 15 minutes to go and Kentucky had no answers at the time. However, a chance of defense made all the difference for the Wildcats who won by 10 back on Nov, 12, 2017.
New Mexico State might have the best opportunity. The Aggies travel to Spokane, WA to face Washington State on Dec. 7 in a neutral site game.
If the WAC is to get a win over a Power 6 opponent, this might be it. Washington State is 141 in the KenPom rankings. And while Seattle struggled in its matchup with the Cougars, it’s safe to say that Seattle is much better than the 31-point drubbing it took on opening night.
Perhaps by its trip to to Starkville, New Mexico State will be a little healthier than it is to start the 2019-20 campaign. The Aggies are much better than what they have shown so far this season. And injuries have been a killer. But someone else has to step up besides Preseason All-WAC selection Trevelin Queen.
The WAC needs a big non-conference win. In the KenPom standings, the WAC has dropped a place in the conference standings since the season tipped off two weeks ago. The WAC is 17th and 1.36 points behind the Sun Belt Conference.
A win over a Power 6 school or perhaps a ranked opponent like Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga will go a long way in helping close that gap or move up in those conference standings.
So, who will get it done?