Oct. 21, 2016
WAC Basketball Preview
Four teams made post-season tournaments for the Western Athletic Conference in 2016, with Bakersfield out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, New Mexico State out in the first round of the NIT, Seattle out in the second round of the CBI and Grand Canyon in the quarterfinals of the CIT. Grand Canyon is in the fourth year of transition so they will once again be ineligible for the NCAA, NIT and WAC tournaments, though they have made the CIT all three years in Division 1.
1] Grand Canyon University Antelopes (27-7, 11-3)
Dan Majerle will have to wait one more year before his Antelopes can have a chance at cracking the NCAA tournament, but that doesn't mean the Lopes won't be the cream of the conference. Quite a lot of talent does leave the roster, but Joshua Braun and his 16.5 points as a sophomore on 44/39 shooting return. No tournament doesn't mean they won't be challenged as Thunder Dan has the Lopes set to face off against Duke, Penn State, San Diego State, Louisville and Arizona before conference play. Plenty of fluffers are also on the slate, aiding the Lopes to pad their record.
2] New Mexico State Aggies (23-11, 13-1)
Marvin Menzies and his Aggies lost by 3 to Bakersfield, ending a four year streak to making the Big Dance, proceeding to stumble against St. Mary's in the first round of the NIT. Ian Baker remains on the roster, and the Aggies bring in a solid amount of Junior College transfers as they look to jump back into March play. A decent non-conference plate has the Aggies facing Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego, UTEP and Arizona State.
3] Utah Valley Wolverines (12-18, 6-8)
Mark Pope is taking over for Dick Hunsaker, and he has himself a good amount of transfers becoming eligible along with a few solid new additions. The Wolverines are in prime position to have an opportunity and play in the Big Dance. With dates against Gonzaga, Brigham Young, Utah, Washington State and Weber State, Pope should have his team battle tested and ready to fight for glory.
4] Seattle Redhawks (15-17, 7-7)
Like the Wolverwinees, the Redhawks are looking to taste March Madness for the first time and will claw their way through the season to have an opportunity. Cameron Dollar keeps most of his team intact, and outside of Washington, Notre Dame and Colorado, the Hawks don't face much talent before conference play, but should have the momentum going into WAC play.
5] Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (24-9, 11-3)
Rod Barnes got the Roadrunners a taste of the Big Dance, and they will have a solid shot at returning in 2017, though, the road will not be easy. A couple of JuCo transfers, with a 3* recruit coming in, the Runners will integrate a few new faces, which could cause issues. They will face some tests as they visit Arizona, BYU and Southern Methodist while hosting Fresno State.
6] Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos (12-19, 4-10)
UMKC is pretty tough to gauge, lots of new faces, but very experienced with 7 seniors on the roster. Kareem Richardson and the Roos will most likely have to keep waiting for the elusive bid to the Big Dance, but will face good talent as they visit West Virginia, Kansas, Mississippi State, Creighton and take part in the Bill Frack Tournament.
7] Texas Rio-Grande Valley Vaqueros (8-22, 4-10)
UTRGV has no seniors on the roster and seven scholared underclassmen. Lew Hill has his work cut out for him, though the non-conference isn't very daunting. They do play Iowa twice and visit Memphis & Houston, but the rest of the games should be competitive.
8] Chicago State Cougars (4-28, 0-14)
It's going to be a looooong season for the Cougars, though the 4-win mark shouldn't be very difficult to overcome. They do have tough trips to Oakland, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, St. Louis, DePaul, Missouri State and Valparaiso. A conference win in itself would be a huge boost to try to get some decent recruits.