Category: WAC Tournament


Nevada lost to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals, setting up a New Mexico State-La. Tech WAC Championship game. For the record, I think the Aggies will cruise to the win.

That leaves the Wolf Pack on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. But, does it deserve to get in?

The fan in me says yes. Nevada still went 26-6. It still won the regular season WAC title. It had a 16-game winning streak. It had a top 6o RPI and was 4-3 against the top-100 RPI teams it faced. Its strength of schedule (164th) was still higher than Drexel’s, and the Wolf Pack did beat Washington, another bubble team and went 4-8 against top-1oo RPI teams.

The problem? Who exactly did the Wolf Pack beat this year? Montana, who won its conference tournament to get a spot in the NCAA Tournament? Yet, it also lost to UNLV, lost to BYU, lost to Iona and had a loss to Idaho. The point? Every chance Nevada had to get a great victory it faltered. Not to mention its wilting in the WAC Tournament again doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the selection committee. Why choose a team that already peaked and is now apparently not playing nearly as well?

The fan in me wants them to make it. The sports writer in me knows that it doesn’t deserve to.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Earlier, I wrote that the Nevada men’s basketball team has the potential to go down as one of the better teams in program history. Last night against San Jose State, they didn’t show it. A pitiful shooting effort in the first half led to the Spartans taking a 14-13 lead into the half. Yes, the Wolf Pack managed just 13 points, tied for the lowest record in WAC Tournament history. My rec league basketball team when I was in grade school scored more than that. Though it recovered to win 54-44, some questions now linger. Was that the Wolf Pack just overlooking the Spartans and are now good since they “woke up” in the second half? Is there a bigger problem?

Deonte Burton, this is your chance to shine once again. Prove you deserve that WAC Player of the Year Award. Coach David Carter, this is your time to step up as well. This team must play better at the beginning of the game. It can’t get away with trying to coast against Louisiana Tech or potentially New Mexico State. Fair or not, the only way the Wolf Pack is going dancing is if it wins this tournament. Especially with Washington losing to Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, Nevada’s resume just doesn’t stack up. It’s time to rise to the occasion boys. Make us proud.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

What a day for the men’s bracket. Exciting, close games. Potential big upsets. And a showdown in the semifinals that people won’t want to miss.

No. 6 Hawaii upset No. 3 Idaho 72-70 in the first game. Give the Warriors credit. They played hard and kept the pressure on. I thought the Vandals would pull out the close win, but Hawaii is more than deserving to move on. They won wihtout leading scorer Zane Johnson and were blown up by Idaho earlier this season. You have to wonder, though. Vandals coach Don Verlin has yet to lead them to a WAC Tournament win.

New Mexico State cruised against Fresno State. No surprise there.

Then there was the Wolf Pack. Coach of the Year David Carter. Player of the Year Deonte Burton. Along with Malik Story and Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt in the middle, it wouldn’t have trouble with the eighth-seeded Spartans right? Wrong. San Jose State led 14-13 at the half before Nevada gained control late in the second half to win 54-44. It was ugly. But, Burton scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half and the Wolf Pack finally looked like a team worthy of a top seed.

Louisiana Tech beats Utah State 72-70. Another great game that went right down the the wire. My only regret? part of me kind of wanted to see Nevada take down the Aggies in the semifinals.

Semifinals predictions 

No. 6 Hawaii vs. No. 2 New Mexico State

Hawaii’s upset of Idaho was great. But, the run will stop here. The Aggies are on a mission to win the WAC Tournament. And, out of all the teams in the first round, they  look like the only team ready to do the job.

Aggies win 72-61.

No. 5 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 1 Nevada

Let’s hope Nevada’s second half resurgence woke the team up for good. Jerry Evans Jr. played well, scoring 10 points on four-of-five shooting. Look, either the Wolf Pack’s game against San Jose State woke them up and they’re going to play well against Louisiana Tech, or Nevada will start slowly again. And against the Bulldogs, that will mean a loss. I’m going to side with the former.

Nevada wins 77-70.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

It’s time. The road to the NCAA Tournament begins today for the Wolf Pack. Nevada likely needs to win the WAC Tournament to get a spot in the big dance. Up first is No. 8 San Jose State. The Wolf Pack crushed the Spartans in the first meeting, but had trouble shaking them off in the second. Is San Jose State prime for a major upset?

The last time these teams met is probably a good indicator of what the Spartans will have to do to have a chance. That game, Olek Czyz and Malik Story were on fire, but Deonte Burton went just two-of-seven from the field. San Jose State had three players score in double figures, James Kinney, Keith Shamburger and Wil Carter. They need all three to do that again. Kinney had 11 points in the first five minutes of the second half alone, keeping the game close. But, the big advantage came on the boards where Nevada had 15 offensive rebounds. Dario Hunt needs to dominate in the middle.

The Wolf Pack hasn’t looked dominant as of late. Since a 13-point win against Fresno State on Jan. 21, Nevada’s conference wins have come by eight, two, one, one, six, three, four and 10 points. In short, the WAC is wide open.

If San Jose State wants to win this game it needs to hold Nevada to fewer than 70 points. The Spartans simply do not have enough scoring options to get into a shootout and win. It also needs to keep the rebounding battle close, especially on the offensive boards.

For Nevada, it will be key to get a big lead early. The longer the Spartans stick around, the more pressure the Wolf Pack will feel. With Nevada being the top seed, the pressure’s all on them. If this game stays close, the Wolf Pack could get tense and then San Jose State has its chance for the upset.

Prediction: Nevada should take care of business today. The Wolf Pack wins 77-67.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The WAC Tournament begins tomorrow. And it should be a fun one. The Wolf Pack will be looking to lock in its spot to the NCAA Tournament while the others will be looking to spoil the party and go dancing themselves.

On paper, Nevada should be the odds on favorite. Coach of the year David Carter and player of the year Deonte Burton lead a talented starting five. But, it’ll be Malik Story and Olek Czyz who will be the difference makers. If they’re on, the Wolf Pack will cruise. If they’re off…well they’ll be in some trouble.

Don’t overlook New Mexico State. The Aggies showed it can hang with the Pack and a showdown could be set for the championship game. Also don’t overlook Idaho. The Vandals could play Nevada in the title game. The Vandals were the only team to beat Nevada during conference play.

Nevada hasn’t looked too impressive in the last few WAC tourneys. And, as San Jose State showed last season, come tournament time, anything can happen. Who do you think will win?

Prediction: Nevada takes down New Mexico State in the championship game.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

No. 1 Fresno State vs. No. 8 New Mexico State

This appears to be the Bulldogs’ championship to lose. Fresno State scored 70 or more points in 12 of the team’s 14 conference games. It had just one conference loss, a one-point loss at San Jose State. Ki-Ki Moore and Rosie Moult combine for 29.4 points per game, making them one of the most prolific scoring duos in the WAC. Fresno State’s outscoring opponents by an average of more than 13 points per game. The Aggies don’t stand a chance on this one.

Fresno State wins 77-59.

No. 2 Utah State vs. No. 7 Nevada

The Wolf Pack is entering the WAC Tournament on a two-game winning streak, including a win against the third-seeded Lady Techsters. And has been in 16 games decided by 10 points or less. Nevada is just 5-11 in those games, however. Clearly seniors Kayla Williams, Kate Kevorken and Amanda Johnson are going to have to be at their best for Nevada to have a chance. The Aggies, however, have won five of its last six. Devyn Christensen and Ashlee Brown (who average 15.4 and 14.8 points per game, respectively) lead four players averaging double digit points per game. Nevada will play inspired basketball, but fall just short.

Utah State wins 74-67.

No. 3 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 6 Hawaii

The Lady Techsters have been wildly inconsistent. It came close to beating Fresno State twice, but got blown out against Utah State. Louisiana Tech lost three of its last four, including a three-point loss to Fresno State and a four-point loss to Nevada. It’s not as potent offensively as it has been in past years, averaging 66.7 points per game. Jasmine Bendolph is going to have to have a big game. Hawaii also lost three of its last four games, losing blowouts to Fresno State, Utah State and Idaho. But, Hawaii did beat the Lady Techsters twice already this season. For the Rainbow-Wahine, all eyes will be on how well Kamila Jackson plays. It’s hard to get a read on Hawaii. It’s suffered a lot of blowouts. But, the Lady Techsters seem ripe for an upset. And Hawaii seems to have their number.

Hawaii wins 69-62.

No. 4 Idaho vs. No. 5 San Jose State

Idaho and San Jose State split its season series. Both games were decided by five points or less. The Spartans will need Brittany Johnson, who set a single season scoring record for SJSU to be on her game. The Vandals are coming in hot, winning three of its last four. It will be a back and forth game, but I’ll give a slight edge to San Jose State.

Spartans win 68-64.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

A special edition of Blue Friday as its WAC Tournament week. The Wolf Pack men’s basketball team is the No. 1 seed and the odds on favorite to take it and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Does any team stand a real shot at knocking off WAC Coach of the Year David Carter, Player of the Year Deonte Burton and the rest of the team?

First round

No. 1 Nevada vs. No. 8 San Jose State

Nevada shouldn’t have much trouble against the Spartans. The Wolf Pack won both meetings, 81-57 and 76-70. The Wolf Pack can’t fall asleep as San Jose State proved last year that it could make a surprising run in the WAC tournament. Don’t overlook The Spartans’ trio of players (Wil Carter, Keith Shamburger and James Kinney) as all three can score in double digits. But, I don’t think San Jose State can stop Nevada’s offense and it doesn’t have the firepower to win a shootout.

Nevada wins 77-67.

No. 2 New Mexico State vs. No. 7 Fresno State

These two teams met in their regular season finale. The Bulldogs looked good for most of the game, leading by 19 in the second half. The Aggies rallied, however, and won in overtime 83-78 in overtime. As I stated in my Nevada-NMSU game preview last week, these Aggies appear to be peaking offensively at the right time. They can score with the best of them and nearly beat Nevada at Lawlor. The Bulldogs would need similar offensive production from starters Kevin Olekaibe and Tyler Johnson and rotation player Kevin Foster. The three combined for 59 of the team’s 78 points. But, it’s unlikely Foster can put up those types of numbers again. And, even if they do, there’s no guarantee it can outscore New Mexico State.

Aggies win 84-72.

No. 3 Idaho vs. No. 6 Hawaii

Hawaii lost a one-point heartbreaker to Utah State in its regular season finale. The Vandals trashed the Warriors by 19 in the team’s last meeting. And Hawaii ended its regular season on a five-game losing streak. The Warriors will make it close, but Idaho moves on.

Idaho wins 74-67.

No. 4 Utah State vs. No. 5 Louisiana Tech

Mainly because I hate Utah State, I’m going to pick the Bulldogs here.

Louisiana Tech wins 74-69.

Second round predictions will come after the first round and I can adjust to how wrong I probably will be.

Coming Tuesday: First round predictions for the women’s bracket.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.