Seattle U. (11-8, 8-2)
Predicted finish: 1st
It’s hard to picture the formerly independent Redhawks without the first seed come WAC Tournament time. Seattle U. narrowly beat Utah State in the Puget Sound and will face a demanding test when they meet the Aggies at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday. Led by Kacie Sowell, who averages just under a double-double with 17 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game, Seattle U. has faltered just once through the first half of conference play. That was a surprising 10-point loss at Texas-San Antonio.
Utah State (11-10, 8-2)
Predicted finish: 3rd
With the emergence of Texas State’s Diamond Forde, it will be hard for Devyn Christensen to follow up her preseason player of the year nomination with the actual WAC POY award. It may be difficult for Utah State to hold onto second place, especially considering that the Aggies required overtime in two of their wins. Their biggest loss was a 103-80 slaughter at sixth-place San Jose State. Utah State lost eight of its initial 10 games to begin the season, and I see them crumbling down the stretch.
Idaho (9-12, 6-4)
Predicted finish: 2nd
After falling to Seattle U. to open the season, a young Vandal team has exhibited experience well beyond their starting lineup of three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior. Idaho has won five of its last six games and its loss to the one-loss Redhawks came by just five points. With Alyssa Charlston averaging 14.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game, the sky is the limit for the youthful Vandals.
UTSA (11-10, 5-5)
Predicted finish: 5th
The unpredictable Roadrunners have been all over the place throughout the first half of the conference season. Though their last game was a massive home loss to Idaho, the Roadrunners had won four consecutive games before that and they’ve been the only team to oust Seattle U. thus far. On the flip side, UTSA’s leading scorer averages 9.8 points-per-game and they don’t have one player who ranks within the top 25 in terms of conference rebounders.
La. Tech (9-10, 5-4)
Predicted finish: 4th
A long time WAC powerhouse, La. Tech, like Utah State on the men’s side, simply doesn’t have the squad to do anything extremely special this season. It would be a surprise if they finished any lower than seventh, and I’m still convinced that this team’s experience will guide them through the second half of conference play.
San Jose State (9-12, 5-5)
Predicted finish: 6th
San Jose State scores the ball better than anybody in this conference. The Spartans have scored at least 80 points three times this season and obliterated Utah State 103-80, five games after nearing 100 in a 98-96 win over Texas State. The fact that this SJSU team has allowed 90 points twice should be worrisome and the Spartans are 1-3 on the road, but have yet to host Seattle U. and Idaho.
Denver (10-11, 5-5)
Predicted finish: 7th
Having only beaten New Mexico State, Texas State and Texas-Arlingon, the Pioneers have much work ahead of them if they plan on avoiding a first-round WAC Tournament tilt. Knowing that they beat the Aggies, Bobcats and Mavericks by an average of 4.6 points, it would be in Denver’s interest to figure things out and gather a few wins over the conference’s top six teams.
New Mexico State (9-11, 3-7)
Predicted finish: 8th
The Aggies didn’t help themselves with a season-opening loss to UTA, which remains the Mavericks’ lone conference win through nine games. NMSU did manage to rebound from the loss, beating La. Tech in its second game. The Aggies have suffered a five-game skid but are fortunate to open up the second half of conference play with Texas State.
Texas State (8-12, 2-8)
Predicted finish: 9th
Other than a Jan. 12 victory at UTA, the effort of WAC leading scorer Diamond Forde has been the only real positive for the eight-loss Bobcats. Texas State must have been feeling good about itself when it maintained a 6-4 record through nonconference play. Forde does average 21.2 points per game but the production from the other Bobcat players has obviously been a non-factor.
Texas-Arlington (3-16, 1-8)
Predicted finish: 10th
It might take a Texas miracle for the Mavericks and Bobcats to avoid Vegas woes come WAC Tournament time. The two will more than likely play first-round, Monday afternoon games before meeting one of the league’s top seeds on Tuesday — if in fact they do win the play-in game. The Mavs haven’t tasted victory since they edged New Mexico State in their season-opener.
*Records and standings including Thursday evening Western Athletic Conference games
Theo Lawson can be reached at email@example.com