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WAC Tournament Preview

By: Toby Columnist
Contact Toby

WAC Basketball Tournament

March 9 - 13, 2004

Fresno, CA

Save Mart Center

Tournament Bracket
Updated with Results

Tournament Favorite > Nevada
Nevada Although Nevada finished second in the WAC in the regular season, the Wolfpack finished strong winning seven of their final eight as of press time. The teamís Sagarin predictor, 27, is by far the best in the conference. Nevada has beaten the big boys, winning at UNLV and picking off Kansas in Reno. The alpha wolf is preseason conference player of the year, Kirk Snyder, who drops almost 19 ppg to go along with 5 boards and four assists. The rest of the ĎPack provides balance with five players averaging over 8 points per game.

Tournament Dark Horse > Hawaii
Hawaii Even though they feature one of the classic nicknames in collegiate athletics, these Warriors staggered to the finish. After starting strong away from the islands, winning 4 of their first 5 on the mainland, the Warriors have gone 1-5 in their last six in temperate climes.

Matchup of Intrigue > Rice vs Hawaii
Rice vs Hawaii The four-five game features 19-win Hawaii and 20-win Rice. In a power conference, this game would matter to NCAA Tourney seeding. In the WAC, the loser will have to do their dancing at the club.

NCAA Tournament Impact
NCAA Tournament Itís real simple out west: win or worry. With an conference-best RPI of 42, neither UTEP nor anyone else is guaranteed a ticket to the Dance without the automatic bid. In truth, two wins by Nevada or UTEP probably punch their ticket, but the only way to not sweat on Sunday is to win.

Tournament Ramblings
Really, this is as wide open as any conference tournament in America. The top five teams all lost between 4 and six games. Rice was hot while winning five in a row, before losing at Hawaii, and more disturbing, losing at home to Louisiana Tech.

Projected Winner - Nevada
Nevada Head coach Trent Johnson takes this team to the show behind a big time performance by Conference player of the year Kirk Snyder.