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WAC Tournament Preview: How to watch, preview, and prediction

Does New Mexico State walk away with another title, or can ACU play spoiler?

NCAA Basketball: New Mexico State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch

When: Saturday, March 12, 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

TV: ESPNU

Livestream: WatchESPN.com, ESPN app

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: New Mexico State -4

Total: 135.5

Preview

New Mexico State is in the WAC Championship once again, what a surprise! Actually, not really, as the Aggies have owned Orleans Arena the last decade. The Aggies have made it to the final every year since 2012 and cut the tournament nets eight out of 10 of those times. New Mexico State is coming off a 75-70 thriller against conference archrival Grand Canyon. The Orleans Arena was packed. The Aggies lead comfortably by double digits most of the way. GCU went on a run in the final eight minutes cutting down to two with 17 seconds left, after Chance McMillian had a thunderous put-back dunk after five other second chances opportunities. The Aggies had one field goal attempt compared to Grand Canyon’s seven in the final two minute and change. Yet the Aggies were able to hold on with Jabari Rice and Teddy Allen two made free throws. Allen lead the Aggies with 25, and Rice had 21 points on just eight shots.

ACU’s run to the WAC final was less likely. The Wildcats had a five-game losing skid to the conference’s top five seeds. But ACU is 12-2 since that period including the stretch where they won three games in three days in the WAC tourney. They came back down double digits and shot 50% from 3 in their win against Utah Valley on Wednesday. In the WAC semis, ACU upset No. 2 Seattle, 78-76. The Wildcats survived 39 points from Seattle star Darrion Trammell. There were 104 total points scored in the second half. ACU is looking to make their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. ACU comes in as a four-point underdog and has embraced being the underdog.

ACU has their brand they play. The Wildcats are the smallest team in the league going up against the biggest. The Wildcats a pesky and are the best team at forcing turnovers, leading the nation in turnover percentage. The program is looking to dancing for the third time in school history. Which is extremely impressive for a program that has been D-I since 2014 and eligible for the dance since 2018.

Interesting note, former coach, and current UTEP coach Joe Golding was at the game supporting the program he built.

Prediction

New Mexico State reigns king of the conference, but I think the new kids on the block are going to give them trouble here. NMSU ranks 307th in turnover percentage per KenPom. Unlike other teams in the conference, this ACU group knows what it takes to win games in March. ACU plus the points is the pick.