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2022 WAC Tournament: Schedule, Bracket, Recent History, TV/Streaming Info

The expanded WAC has an expanded tournament, one that has to play at two venues for scheduling reasons. This year the conference implemented a stepladder bracket, which isn’t great for a league that saw five teams finish with either four or five losses.

The 2022 WAC Tournament field in logos.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean using logos from SportsLogos.net (teams) and Wikipedia.(conference).

Visit Conference Tournament Central and the 2022 Conference Tournaments Hub for full Championship Fortnight coverage.

2022 Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Basics

Dates

Tuesday, March 8 (first round); Wednesday, March 9 (second round); Thursday, March 10 (quarterfinals); Friday, March 11 (semifinals); Saturday, March 12 (championship)

Format

Stepladder bracket

Site

With the WAC expanding to 13 teams for 2021-22, the conference elected to expand its tournament field to 10. But that decision—and the stepladder bracket format—put the league in a pickle when it came to the venue for Tuesday’s opening round, as the Orleans Arena, the typical venue for the event, hosts the WCC final that night. So, the opening round will be played at the Mandalay Bay Arena before the rest of the field heads to the Orleans starting on Wednesday.

TV/Streaming Info

ESPNU will air the final on Selection Saturday, and it should wrap up around the time Selection Sunday begins in the Eastern Time Zone. ESPN+ will stream the remaining eight games.

Participants

Even though the WAC has 13 teams, three of them aren’t yet eligible for the NCAA or NIT. Two of them, Dixie State (13-18, 6-12, 10th) and Tarleton State (14-17, 9-9, 8th), are in their second year of reclassifying from Division II, so they’re out. The third reclassifying school, Cal Baptist, is in the fourth year of its transition, so the Lancers will participate, while being ineligible for the auto bid, thanks to a conference rule change impacting teams in the latter stages of their reclassification process. Of the remaining 10 full Division I teams, the lowest-ranked one in the standings, newcomer Lamar (2-27, 0-16, 13th), didn’t make the trip to Vegas.

Downloadable Bracket

Schedule

First Round (Tues., March 8)

Game 1: (9) UT Rio Grande Valley (8-23, 3-15) 80, (8) Cal Baptist 81
Game 2: (10) Chicago State (7-25, 3-15) 47, (7) Utah Valley 69

Second Round (Wed., March 9)

Game 3: (8) Cal Baptist (18-15, 7-11) 35, (5) Sam Houston State 65
Game 4: (7) Utah Valley (20-12, 10-8) 74, (6) Abilene Christian 82

Quarterfinals (Thurs., March 10)

Game 5: (5) Sam Houston State (19-14, 13-5) 66, (4) Grand Canyon 71
Game 6: (6) Abilene Christian 76, (3) Stephen F. Austin (22-9, 14-4) 62

Semifinals (Fri., March 11)

Game 7: (4) Grand Canyon (23-8, 12-5) 70, (1) New Mexico State 75
Game 8: (6) Abilene Christian 78, (2) Seattle (23-9, 14-4) 76

Championship (Sat., March 12)

Game 9: Game 9: (6) Abilene Christian (23-10, 11-7) 52, (1) NEW MEXICO STATE (26-6, 13-4) 66

Mayhem Potential

Data originally posted by Bob Vetrone Jr. on Twitter in 2020 with my own additions for 2021 and 2022.

While New Mexico State has dominated the WAC over the past decade, that doesn’t mean the No. 1 seed has an overwhelming advantage in that time, as the regular-season champ has claimed just five of the last 10 tournament titles. The 2 seed has four, with the 3 rounding out the total.

  • 1 seed (5): 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021
  • 2 seed (4): 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017
  • 3 seed (1): 2013

NCAA Seeding Record Since 2011

Years with an NCAA win are in bold.

  • 12 seed (3): 2011, 2018, 2019
  • 13 seed (3): 2012, 2013, 2014
  • 14 seed (1): 2017
  • 15 seed (3): 2015, 2016, 2021

Current Mountain West member Utah State is responsible for the WAC’s last at-large bid, back in the final 65-team year of 2010.

The WAC champ has avoided the 16 line since the field expanded to 68. With the influx of Southland powers SFA, SHSU, and ACU, along with NMSU’s presence (at least until the Aggies and Bearkats head off to Conference USA), that should remain the case in 2022.

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

Abilene Christian: 2021 (14 seed, 2nd Round, Southland member)
Grand Canyon: 2021 (15 seed, 1st Round)
New Mexico State: 2019 (12 seed, 1st Round)
Stephen F. Austin: 2018 (14 seed, 1st Round, Southland member)
Lamar: 2012 (16 seed, First Four, Southland member)
Sam Houston State: 2010 (14 seed, 1st Round, Southland member)
Seattle: 1969 (unseeded, 1st Round)

Of the 10 WAC teams that are eligible for the postseason, Chicago State, UT Rio Grande Valley, and Utah Valley have never reached the NCAAs. This will be the Cougars’ last chance as a WAC school, as they’ll be on their way out of the conference after this season. As noted above, Cal Baptist will be eligible for the first time next season, while Tarleton State and Dixie State (soon to be Utah Tech) must wait until 2025.

Incarnate Word, which has yet to make the field of 68 as a Southland member, will join the WAC next season.