College Basketball Betting: Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament Preview
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 03/10/2009
The WAC Tournament heads to Reno this year with a marquee top seed, albeit a shaky one, a dangerous team playing on its home court, an unpredictable defending champion and a wide-open field behind that. No. 1 seed Utah State gained plenty of publicity during most of the regular season but a 3-3 finish left its tournament hopes most likely riding on winning the automatic berth.
Nevada may very well be the favorite as the No. 2 seed and with the home court advantage. Utah State awaits the winner of what basically amounts to a play-in game between No. 8 Hawaii and No. 9 Fresno State Tuesday night. An interesting dark horse team is Boise State, the No. 4 seed and defending champion.
The Broncos were also a No. 4 seed last year when they made an improbable run that was capped with a thrilling 107-102 triple overtime win on New Mexico State's home court last season. New Mexico State will get a shot at revenge this year when it faces Boise State in the first round. The game could also be one of the more exciting of the tournament with both team's ranked first and second in the conference, respectively, in scoring offense.
The showdown many want to see is a rematch between Nevada and Utah State. Both teams defended their home court in the regular season, with Utah State winning, 72-61, in late January and Nevada winning, 84-71, in the second to last game of the regular season for both teams.
Even though they are playing on their home court, Nevada should not look too far ahead. If the Wolf Pack can get past a meeting with No. 7 San Jose State Thursday, they will have their hands full with either No. 3 seed Idaho or No. 6 Louisiana Tech. Both teams picked up a win over Nevada earlier this season.
After the Hawaii/Fresno State "play-in" game Tuesday night, the tournament gets into full swing with a four-game marathon on Thursday starting with No. 4 Boise State and No. 5 New Mexico State at noon EST. Utah State and the winner of the Hawaii/Fresno State game will meet at 2:30 p.m. with Nevada/San Jose State at 6 p.m. and Idaho and Louisiana Tech as the night cap at 8:30 p.m.
The semifinals will be held Friday with the title game Saturday at 7 p.m., televised on ESPN2.
Last year Boise State snapped a streak of home court advantage in the WAC Tournament. The previous two champions were the host team. Nevada has the advantage there but the Wolfpack are one of the worst home teams in the conference, already having lost six games there this season. Nevada is actually better in conference play on the road (6-2).
No. 3 seed Idaho may be the hottest team in the tournament as it rides a three-game winning streak and has won six of its last seven games. One of those wins was a 59-56 decision against Louisiana Tech, its first round opponent. Louisiana Tech is an interesting team if it's able to hit shots. The Bulldogs have the worst scoring offense in the conference (62.9) but the second best defense (62.7), behind only Utah State.