clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Our favorites, sleepers, and dark horses in the 2021 WAC Conference basketball tournament

We take a look at one favorite, one sleeper and one dark horse candidate to win it all in the 2021 WAC Conference men's basketball tournament.

NCAA Basketball: New Mexico State at Grand Canyon Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s unclear that the WAC will earn any at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament, so all the schools will be fighting extra hard to earn that automatic bid that comes with winning the conference tournament this week.

We’ll be taking a look at some of the best teams in each conference, and providing picks and predictions for each conference tournament. Plenty of favorites will win, but we’ve got some sleepers to consider that might be able to pull off a big upset on the way to the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s the bracket for the WAC Conference Tournament with TV listings, dates and times.

Favorite: Grand Canyon Antelopes

The Antelopes had an easy road to start the season, but in recent weeks they’ve stumbled a few times. They have six losses total on the season, but half of those have come since Feb. 20. Still, as the co-champion of the regular season they’ve earned an automatic trip to the semi-finals. So they’ll only need to string together two wins in a row to cut down the nets.

GCU is led by strong, but not elite, units in just about everything. They rank somewhere between 3rd and 4th in the conference in just about everything, including offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Asbjorn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever are the big men and leaders of the team, combining for about 28 points per game.

Sleeper: Utah Valley Wolverines

Utah Valley finished as the co-champions of the conference and have also earned a spot in the semi-finals, along with GCU. While their WAC records were similar, their overall records were very different. The Wolverines finished the regular season just one game above .500 on the season, but have proved they can go toe-to-toe with the big dogs of the WAC, taking one of two games from the Antelopes to finish out the season.

They’re a well-rounded scoring team, finishing third in the WAC in offensive efficiency. UVU has four players averaging double figures, led by Jamison Overton who’s scoring 16 per night on average.

Dark Horse: New Mexico State Aggies

The Aggies haven’t been as great this season as they have been in recent years, but they know how to get hot during tournament time. New Mexico State has won seven of the last eight WAC Tournament titles and has made the finals in all eight seasons. They finished the year just 2.5 games out of first place, but did take down Utah Valley. Both times they played GCU though, they lost by an average of 10 points.

Still, they’re heading into the tournament having won five of their last six games, which is their best streak of the season. According to KenPom, they currently have the most efficient offense in the conference and the 4th best defense in the WAC as well. They tend to shoot a ton of long-range shots, hitting 47 shots from beyond the arc in their last five games. Jabari Rice leads the team with 13 points per game and is shooting nearly 35% from three.