WAC Tournament Championship: Utah State Nails Down the Automatic Bid

WAC Conference MVP Tai Wesley had another terrific all-around game, leading a balanced Utah State to victory over Boise State 77-69 and the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

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Why should you care? Because the Aggies, ranked 17th in the nation by ESPN, were going to get an at-large bid regardless. But the Broncos of Boise State were much deeper down the list. So when the game remained close until the final moments instead of, as many predicted, Utah State pulling away early, teams hoping for those last few at-large bids, like Penn State and possibly even Villanova, were biting their collective nails. A Utah State win keeps their hopes that much more alive with Selection Sunday upon us.

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Boise's LaShard Anderson played a heck of a game against all-defensive Tyler Newbold, answering the depth of Utah State's roster with clutch plays of his own. But it was Wesley and center Nate Bendall who controlled the glass for the Aggies and ultimately controlled the game. It's been a common theme in every conference tourney that whoever wins the rebound and assist percentage battle has won the game, and that held true again tonight. The Aggies involved each other more than the Broncos and continued their season streak of wins when up at the half.

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Utah State is a strange team. They've won 30 games, one of only six teams in the country to have gotten to that mark, but have ZERO wins against the RPI Top 50. As of now, St. Mary's is 51st, so it's close, but they've lost their only two prove-it games against Georgetown and BYU. The loss to Idaho doesn't help either. You could make a case for them getting a 5 or 6 seed, but when you pick apart the teams they've really beaten, it's not all that impressive -- I'd slate them for an 8/9 seed and a tough out for a number 1 in the second round.

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27 teams are now guaranteed to be dancing next week. Who will join them? Find out the rest of the automatics tomorrow.

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