Each of the Western Athletic Conference’s nine teams have an ESPN BracketBuster game today. With the exception of Utah State’s tilt against Wichita State, none have a signficant impact on the NCAA bracket that will be revealed in a few weeks.
Some, however, will have impact on bubbles around the country and even an impact on Utah State’s bubble in minor ways. For example, Louisiana Tech beating Northeastern helps the Aggies in two ways. First, it knocks the Huskies out of contention for an at-large bid. Second, it boosts USU’s RPI because LaTech’s RPI will go up.
That said, it hurts USU’s RPI because Northeastern’s will go down. It’s a mess, right? All that really matters to Aggie fans is winning, winning, winning. That’s the only way to feel safe.
Here’s a look at the game and my predictions.
La Tech at Northeastern, 11:00 AM ESPN2 — The Bulldogs are more athletic and longer. Northeastern is deeper and more disciplined. LaTech also will be one jet-lagged squad after a game in Logan Wednesday. Still, I like the Bulldogs in this one. LaTech 67, NU 61.
Nevada at Missouri St., 1:00 PM ESPN2 — Actually a very good matchup with two strong teams. I just think Nevada (RPI 65) is better than Missouri State (RPI 86) even on the road. The Pack is certainly playing better of late. Nevada 74, MSU 69.
Long Beach at Idaho, 6:30 PM — Wow, two teams that started out with a lot of promise but have hit rough patches. Long Beach is playing poorly after their brutal non-conference slate. Idaho wins this one based on being home. Idaho 62, Long Beach 57.
SJSU at Montana St., 7:00 PM — Montana State isn’t very good. Adrian Oliver is. San Jose State runs and guns this one to a win. SJSU 73, Montana State 64.
UC Davis at Boise St., 7:05 PM — The results have been pretty tough for the Broncos, but they’ve actually been competitive but haven’t seen many wins. That changes tonight. Boise State 65, UC Davis 55.
NMSU at Pacific – ESPNU, 8:00 PM — The other Aggies are playing well and have some nice depth. If not for all those pesky academics, the team would have been together all season and certainly be in the at-large discussion. But a current RPI of 75 means that’s not a discussion point. Pacific is about the best the Big West has but I still think NMSU pulls it out. NMSU 76, Pacific 72.
UCSB at Fresno St., 8:30 PM — Paul George is back, playing well and the Gauchos, despite being the Big West’s current leader, should have no chance in this one. But Fresno is so up and down it’s crazy. I’m going for a road win this time. UCSB 71, Fresno State 68.
Wichita St. at Utah State – ESPN2, 10:00 PM. — Easily the top matchup in the WAC’s BracketBuster lineup. The Spectrum will be loud, crazy and intimidating. If the Shockers are, indeed, shocked by the environment — though it’s not like they’re unaccustomed to playing in loud, crazy and intimidating arenas — it could be a big, big win for USU. Utah State 78, Wichita State 64.
Cal Poly at Hawaii – 11:00 PM — The Warriors have virtually given up on the season. But they’re at home. Cal Poly has lost six of seven and is just not a very good basketball team. Hawaii 70, Cal Poly 60.
Total record for the weekend: WAC 8-1.