It’s undoubtedly been a WACky day in the Western Athletic Conference. It doesn’t take a lot to catch the eyes of the college basketball world on a Monday in the middle of July, but the conference did so in many ways.
The WACkiness starts in the heart of Texas, as Lamar announced it is leaving the conference after a short-lived one season. Lamar was a member of the WAC for a total of 375 days, just to return to the league he has been a member of for 24 seasons: the Southland.
Now, the WAC might have been a little bit too difficult for Lamar — I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It beat their ass.
Lamar went 0-18 in the program’s only season in the league. Only three results were within two possessions and 11 were by double digits. As our colleagues over at Never Made the Tourney Club mentioned, their list of achievements is not a long one:
Making the jump back to the Southland isn’t as attractive as it originally was though. When the Cardinals joined the WAC, they did three of the most successful programs in the league, Abilene Christian, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin. When all joined the WAC, the league jumped eight spots forward in KenPom’s conference ratings. The Southland on the other hand dropped down to 31 out of 32 leagues.
You could compare Lamar’s one season in the league to trees in a forest. As Lamar’s tree was cut down for a new planned neighborhood, fellow former Southland Conference members grew taller than ever. Lamar will join fellow not-really-former Southland member Incarnate Wardwhich also had accepted an invite to join the WAC months ago, in not going west.
Analytics gone wild
That wasn’t the only news that happened in the WAC Monday as the league announced a new, WACky way to seed the conference tournament come March.
Scoop—@WACSports is doing the unprecedented: Its basketball tournaments’ standings/seedings will be determined not by league record, but by a KenPom-created formula that utilizes the NET and will reward teams wins and losses. A college sports first. Story: https://t.co/pryiZDhPf4
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) July 11, 2022
As CBS Sports reporter Matt Norlander detailed, the league will implement a KenPom-created formula that utilizes the NET rankings to seed teams. In simple terms, the strength of the team’s non-conference schedule and wins will determine seeding in the conference tournament.
They aren’t the first league to do this as the WCC used this the past couple of seasons. It might sound bizarre or like way too much, but every mid-major league wants the best team in the tournament. This is a way to not only help that from happening but secure more money for the league. In all reality, it shouldn’t make more than a one-game difference.
Let’s use teams like New Mexico State and UT Rio Grande Valley for instance.
No high-major school wants to schedule the Aggies. It’s like they never lose and that will only continue with Greg Heiar taking over for Chris Jans.
Now the couple games they’ll play against those schools will most likely be close, helping their ranking. Also, a couple of wins against the top 150 mid-major schools that would also like to boost their resume, would boost that ranking.
On UTRGV’s behalf, they’ll probably play a half dozen Power 6 schools and get blown out in all of them. Their ranking will drop there unless they pick up some wins against a rare division one opponent.
Personally, I think people just want stuff to complain about today. College basketball is fun. This is fun and makes every game important.