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UMKC at Seattle, 10:00 PM Eastern, free streaming at wacsports.com
Ten years ago, the Western Athletic Conference was a borderline Top Ten Conference. UTEP captured the automatic bid and received an 11 seed, while Nevada got an at-large bid and a 9 seed. Five years ago, New Mexico State captured the automatic bid and a 12 seed, while Utah State got an at-large, also landing as a 12. Then came realignment. This season, the WAC is ranked as the third from worst conference in the entire country. Our bracket projections almost all season have had New Mexico State as the champion — and heading to Dayton for a First Four game (and not the game that 11 and 12 seeds play in). What was once a conference that had a solid argument that it was better than a mid-major is now barely a conference at all. But it is a conference, and it does get an automatic bid. And it is certainly Under the Radar.
Tonight’s UTR Game of the Day focuses on a WAC regular season conference game for the first time this season as the UMKC Kangaroos head to Seattle to battle the Redhawks. UMKC enters tonight’s game at 6-3 in conference play, tied with Grand Canyon for second place (and with Grand Canyon ineligible for the WAC tournament as a transitional team, in sole possession of the #2 seed spot for the WAC tournament). The ‘roos are only 11-15 overall but did start the season with a huge upset, winning at Missouri. Things have not gone so well since then as UMKC has dropped seven games to teams outside the KenPom top 200. However, they have won 6 of 8 games entering play tonight and will be looking to further move towards locking in that #2 seed tonight. Sophomore Martez Harrison has been the standout player so far for the Kangaroos, only being held to single digit scoring once this season (last time out in a win at Chicago State).
Seattle is sitting in fifth place in the WAC at 4-6 in conference and 11-13 overall. While the Redhwaks have picked up home wins over UC-Davis and New Mexico State this season, they enter tonight’s game having lost five out of six and desperately need a win to turn their season around as we head towards the conference tournament. The Redhawks are led by the duo of Isiah Umipig and Jarell Flora. These two seniors have been consistent double-digit scoring threats all season, with the two combining for 43 of Seattle’s 57 points in a loss at Texas-Pan American on Saturday. If the two can get some more help from their teammates, they should give the Kangaroos a very good game tonight.