March 15, 2013
Upsets in mid-major conference tournaments have been all the "rage" this week. On Sunday, regular season champions Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt) and Stony Brook (America East) went down, and the top two teams in the MEAC (Norfolk State and North Carolina Central) met a similar fate on Wednesday.
Thursday afternoon Denver, co-champions of the WAC and the two-seed in the conference tournament, became the most recent victim as they were knocked off by Texas State in the WAC quarters 70-68.
The Pioneers (21-9) shot 10-of-28 beyond the arc and 45.8% inside of it, and while that percentage may not seem all that bad it is when compared to the Bobcats making 20 of their 29 two-point shots (and going 23-of-28 from the foul line as well).
Joel Wright, a second-team all-conference selection, led the way for Texas State with 32 points (9-of-10 FG, 14-of-16 FT) and seven rebounds. The Bobcats (11-21) advance to take on New Mexico State in the semifinals on Friday night.
Brett Olson (19 points) and Jalen Love (17 points) paced the Pioneers, but a 1-of-7 afternoon from forward Royce O'Neale and their inability to take advantage of a plus-7 turnover margin resulted in Denver falling two games short of the ultimate goal.
With the upset it can be argued that the bottom half bracket opens up for New Mexico State, which routed Idaho in the first quarterfinal of the day. And with top seed Louisiana Tech still alive Denver may be in a position where they need the Bulldogs to go on and grab the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth.
Louisiana Tech, should they fail to do so, has an automatic bid to the NIT and would more than likely push Denver out of contention for a spot in the 32-team event if that were the case.
And if both WAC co-champions were to fall this weekend that would only weaken the back end of the NCAA tournament field, which has taken some hits due to the upsets noted above.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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