by Daniel Olsen
Going into this basketball game, the Aggies were looking good. Despite the loss to Colorado State, their tournament hopes looked bright. Now, with a 59-56 loss to a Runnin’ Rebels team outside the top 100 in the NET ratings, what does this do for their tournament hopes? Let’s take a look at what they have to do to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
1. No more bad losses:
While it’s disrespectful to call UNLV a bad team, that’s how they are viewed in the world of bracketology. UNLV is ranked outside the top 100 in virtually every ranking system. They are 123 in KenPom, 153 in NET, and 115 in Sagarin. According to NET, this qualifies as a quadrant 3 loss. It is not the worst loss they could have. This is their first quadrant 3 game. While not a terrible team, it certainly isn’t a good team. The Aggies have beaten the terrible quadrant 4 teams in all eight contests. They are also an impressive 3-2 in quadrant 2 games but 0-2 in quadrant 1. Below is a visual which breaks down what the quadrants mean:
The Aggies would make the tournament according to most metrics if the field was announced today. They are currently ranked 55 in KenPom, 57 in NET, and 55 in Sagarin. They are still on bubble watch as they were projected to be in a play-in game vs Richmond as a 12 seed in the latest ESPN mock bracket.
The Aggies need to beat the remainder of the quadrant 3 and below teams. This starts on Wednesday night when the Aggies look to avoid a three game losing streak. They will take the court at the Thomas and Mack Center again to face UNLV at 9 PM MST. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
2. Beat a great team:
Going back to our quadrants, the Aggies have one more game in January and then eight games in February. They have already gone 3-1 against two of the better teams in the Mountain West in Colorado State and San Diego State.
In February, there will be four opponents with two matchups against each. Three of them are against teams that will likely be quadrant 3 matchups. Boise could be a quadrant 1 team if they continue to win at this level. The Aggies should protect home court the rest of the way. They have two home games against Wyoming and two to end the regular season against Nevada. At least one win vs Boise might be the difference between getting into the tournament and getting left out.
3. Just win baby:
The Aggies have done it already in previous two years. If they win all the games in the Mountain West Conference tournament then that will trump any loss in January in Las Vegas. Sometimes you end up snake eyes and sometimes your gamble pays off. The Aggies have won more often than not and they will bounce back from this little slump. It will be a competitive race to the top in the Mountain West. A regular season championship might be out of the cards for the Aggies unless they can win out the rest of the way. However, the Aggie basketball players didn’t come to Logan to win the regular season. They came to win conference tournament championships in March.
If the Aggies can avoid losing to bad teams, beat a great team at least once, and advance far in the conference tournament again, I see another NCAA tournament in their future.
You can let us know whether you think the Aggies can still make the NCAA tournament as an at-large (without winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament). Just go to Twitter and vote on our poll here.
Featured image courtesy The Herald Journal