I’m using my ratings and Bill James’ log5 formula to estimate the chances of each participating team advancing to a particular round of its conference tournament.
Western Athletic Conference
Location: Las Vegas (Orleans Arena)
Dates: March 13-15
Chance of bid thief: zero
Current kPOY: Daniel Mullings, New Mexico State
Semis Final Champ 2 New Mexico St. 84.8 72.8 60.9 1 Utah Valley 70.9 43.4 13.5 6 CS Bakersfield 62.9 13.7 7.0 5 Idaho 56.1 26.7 6.7 4 UMKC 43.9 18.4 3.9 7 Seattle 15.2 8.0 3.9 3 Chicago St. 37.1 5.5 2.1 8 UT Pan American 29.1 11.5 2.0
What a weird season in the WAC. New Mexico State was the heavy preseason favorite and the Aggies played like it. They led the conference in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency, and did so by a wide margin. But the conference standings say differently. Utah Valley won 13 games and New Mexico State won 12. And the decisive battle between the two teams ended in a game of dodgeball. If Bob Goulet were around, he’d say these cats put the WAC in wacky.
With some one-seeds losing in conference tournaments this year, there is a mild backlash against using tournaments to crown a conference champion. But it’s worth noting that it is not in the WAC’s best interest to send its regular-season champ to the NCAA tournament this season. New Mexico State is easily more capable of pulling a round-of-64 upset. Were there no conference tournament, the WAC would be sending the Wolverines to slaughter. Instead, there’s good chance it won’t. Yay for tournaments.