Dates: March 9-12
Location: Las Vegas
Championship game: March 12, 10:00 pm, ESPN2
Outlook: Utah State.
I mean, that’s all you really need to know, right?
The Aggies are far and away the best team in the WAC. In fact, the league is so down that Utah State has found themselves in a situation where their resume is weak enough that they need to win the conference tournament if they want to avoid sweating out the conference tournament.
That said, there are a couple of threats. Idaho, the only team to beat the Aggies in WAC play, will get another chance in the semifinals if they win. New Mexico State is probably the second most talented team in the league, led by the conference’s second leading scorer Troy Gillenwater, but they have been a disappointment all season long, culminating in four straight losses late in the season.
Boise State might be Utah State’s biggest threat. The Broncos have won their last seven games and are led by one of the league’s most dynamic guards in LaShard Anderson, who was top five in the conference in both scoring and assists.
Players to watch: Adrian Oliver, San Jose State
Oliver, who transferred to the Spartans after a year at Washington, is one of the best pure scorers in the country. He averaged over 24 ppg, he has three point range, and he is adept at getting to the line. You better catch him early, however, as Oliver doesn’t have much talent around him, which is part of the reason his team finished eighth in a nine-team conference.
Champion: Utah State
Not much of a choice here. The Aggies are legit. They have size, they defend, they have athletes, they execute offensively. Starting center Tai Wesley, who was named the conference player of the year, is the guy that the offense is centered around. He can score with his back to the basket, he can rebound the ball, and he can pass out of the post. I’m a big fan of both Brockeith Pane and Brady Jardine, but the guy you need to keep an eye on is sharpshooter Brian Green.