The Aggie volleyball team moved up a couple of spots to 59th in this week's RPI released by the NCAA. While we don't know for sure, we'd imagine that the Aggies need to be somewhere in the 40's (probably low to mid 40's) RPI-wise to feel good about their chances for an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament. Whether or not that can happen depends a lot on how they finish out the season. If they win their final five regular season matches then win their semifinal match in the WAC tournament against whomever they might face and then meet Hawai'i in the championship match, they might be able to break into the 40's. The Aggies jumped four spots in the RPI after playing Hawai'i (who is ranked 7th in the RPI).
One thing that hurts the Aggies is that their final five opponents have RPI ratings of 159 (Fresno State), 209 (San Jose State), 181 (Idaho), 123 (Boise St.) and 83 (Utah St.). Not knowing how the RPI is calculated, it's entirely possible that the Aggies could drop a few spots in RPI even if they do win simply because they're playing such low RPI-rated teams. We'll keep an eye out on how the Aggies' RPI moves after this week's matches.
The Aggie women's basketball team will hold a preseason social next Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. Tickets and reservations are available by calling (575) 646-5151 and season tickets are available by calling the Pan Am ticket office at (575) 646-1420.
Finally, we have some conference expansion news for you. While it's not necessarily WAC related, it does in some way affect the WAC. The Big Sky announced yesterday that North Dakota and Southern Utah will be joining their league in 2012. They are also very close to adding South Dakota as a 14th team (football playing). If you recall, just a couple months ago the Big Sky also added Cal Poly and UC-Davis, two teams that were thought to have been on the list of potential WAC additions.
You're probably asking how this affects the WAC. The expansion of the Big Sky seems to point to the scenario in which Montana, the program that the WAC covets the most, remaining as an FCS football program. The Big Sky's press release had the following to say about the situation, "The Big Sky does not anticipate losing any of its current nine core members." It's current nine core members includes Montana.
Montana's athletic director Jim O'Day told the Missoulian in regards to the Big Sky's expansion, "It's something I think the Big Sky has to do. It's similar to what the WAC is going to do in the next few days, when they announce an expansion. It will not include Montana - we're not to that point yet - but they have to do their due diligence."
The Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton also had this to say, “We have to change a lot of mindsets. Every time someone from our division has sustained success, the national media believes that school has to move up to the FBS level, and that’s not the case.”
It's not so much the national media that believes (or is even promoting that) as much as it is WAC commission Karl Benson when he references Nevada and more specifically Boise State.
That statement by Commissioner Fullerton would appear to be a shot across the bow of Commissioner Benson.
Here's the interesting part. Kyle Whelliston, proprietor of the outstanding Mid-Majority site and now contributor to the Basketball Prospectus, brought up the point that this expansion by the Big Sky is a serious blow to the Great West Conference. He had this to say in an essay about the Big Sky's expansion:
Not so sure about the Great West, though. The league that began just two seasons ago and held its first tournament this past March doesn't have an Big Dance bid, and isn't close to earning one. The NCAA requires at least seven non-transitional Division I members. Seven "core members" must have held full D-I status for at least eight years, and six of those must be in the same league for five years. The loss of the two Dakota schools leaves the GWC with five teams: the Houston Baptist Huskies, NJIT Highlanders, Utah Valley Wolverines, Chicago State Cougars and Texas-Pan American Broncs. And those programs have a commitment to the conference that only runs through next summer.
With the WAC looking to solidify itself, could there be a chance (and the timeline fits) that the WAC adds Utah Valley and Texas-Pan American as non-football playing schools? If the WAC does indeed add Texas State, UT-San Antonio, Seattle and Denver could that be the straw that finally breaks Hawaii's back and sends them to football independence and Big West affiliation and if that happens would the WAC look at adding UVU, UT-Pan American and even perhaps Houston Baptist making the league predominantly Mountain/Central time-zone oriented? (And for those of you who are wondering about HBU... they have a pretty decent non-conference men's basketball schedule).
Karl Benson himself said, “Right now I don’t think anything would surprise me in terms of conference changes and membership changes in any conference.”
Just food for thought.
On to today's links...
Aggie Mens' Basketball
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News writes that the Aggies will have to establish a new identity this season.
The Sports Network previews the WAC.
Rush The Court takes a look at impact players in the southwest region.
Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal shares his WAC notebook.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reports that SJSU is happy to have a bye week.
Jon Wilner also grades the Spartans on their game against the Aggies.
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