The will probably be the last year of the WAC having any kind of relevancy nationally.
Nevada and Fresno State are leaving to become full-time members of the Mountain West. Hawaii is going to the MWC for football and taking the rest of their talents to the Big West. In exchange, the WAC is adding Denver, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, Texas State and Seattle. Boise State will also return in all sports except for football.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the WAC is the biggest loser in this conference realignment mess.
But that’s not important this year.
What is important is that Nevada absolutely ran through this league, losing just two games since Thanksgiving. The only losses came to Idaho and at Iona for BracketBusters. I’m not sure anyone in the conference has the horses to run with them.
Where: Las Vegas
When: March 8th-March 10th
Final: March 10th, 11 p.m. ESPN2
The Wolf Pack were one of the hottest teams in the country down the stretch of the season, losing only twice after Thanksgiving. This is a group that is very, very talented. Deonte Burton and Malik Story are both high-major talents in the back court while Dario Hunt is one of the most intimidating defensive presences on the West Coast. Duke transfer Olek Czyz has made a name for himself in Reno.
And if they lose?: New Mexico State
Wendell McKines is one of the nation’s most underrated players. He averages a double-double despite facing double teams on a nightly basis. They certainly miss not having Christian Kabango out there, but the play of Hernst Laroche and Tyrone Watson has helped make up for it.
Sleepers: Idaho is the only team in the conference to knock off Nevada, and if that rematch were to come to fruition, it would be in the conference title game. I like Utah State’s roster. They have a talented back court and a couple of good big men, but they are young and get Nevada in the second round.
– Wendell McKines, New Mexico State: McKines deserved strong consideration for the league’s Player of the Year even though he didn’t play for the conference champ.
– Deonte Burton, Nevada: Burton ended up winning the award, and rightly so. He was the leading scorer and the go-to playmaker for the conference champ.
– Preston Medlin, Utah State: Good shooter, good athlete, smart player. What else would you expect out of a Utah State guard?
– Vander Joaquim, Hawaii: Joaquim was probably the best true big man in the conference, averaging 14.0 ppg an 9.5 rpg.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.