The WAC boasts four legit NCAA Tournament contenders … only one of which will dance.
For the second Saturday night in February, the Seattle University Redhawks were impressive at home, this time defeating WAC-leading New Mexico State in an overtime thriller at Key Arena. The Redhawks are surging.
But the conference has no shot to get more than one team into the NCAA Tournament, so the meaning of such an outcome is wrapped in two factors.
Conference Tourney Seeding
Seattle's win keeps them tied with Utah Valley at 8-3 in conference play. They own the tiebreaker thanks to their 55-54 win two weeks ago, but the two teams face each other in Orem March 3 in the regular season finale.
There's a very good chance both teams win out until that matchup.
The Aggies, despite the loss, hold onto a one-game lead at 9-2 and should close out the season at 12-2 with home games versus Chicago State (2-26, 0-11) and Missouri-Kansas City (9-19, 4-7) until they finish on the road at UT Rio Grand Valley (14-13, 5-5).
Grand Canyon (17-9, 6-4) also figures to be a factor in the conference tournament. Currently, GCU sits as the No. 4 seed.
It cannot be properly quantified, but the confidence in the Seattle U locker room is soaring, no doubt. New Mexico State entered play Saturday with an RPI of 49 — the only WAC team higher than 89 — and became the best win on Seattle's resume.
Granted, the WAC will get just the one team in the tourney with very little chance of that changing, but the Redhawks now know they can beat anyone they face through the conference tournament. They don't just believe it, they know it. They've done it.
But the same kind of confidence roars with Utah Valley and GCU, too. The Wolverines beat New Mexico State last week and the Lopes beat Seattle on the road earlier this season.
It's a bit of a top-heavy conference, but any of the top four could win the conference tourney and represent the WAC in the NCAA Tournament in March and it would surprise no one paying attention.
Aggies' star Zach Lofton entered play Saturday as the No. 2 scorer in the conference. It appeared as if Seattle was doing a number on the senior guard until late in the second half when he hit four straight jumpers, including two long threes.
[credit]Jim Oxley/HERO Sports[/credit]
Up until that mark, he was 4-for-11 from the field and 2-for-6 from three. Lofton ended the night with 26 and picked up ground on scoring leader, UTRGV's Nick Dixon, who finished with 21 Saturday in a loss to Utah Valley…
New Mexico State represented the WAC in last year's NCAA Tournament, falling to Baylor 91-73. They've won the WAC Tournament and stormed the NCAAs five of the last six seasons and six of the last eight. Cal State Bakersfield (2016) and Utah State (2011) cut into the Aggies' run.