Nevada last WAC team to win in NCAA tourney | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada last WAC team to win in NCAA tourney

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

With Utah State and New Mexico State taking first-round exits, Nevada’s NCAA wins over Michigan State, Gonzaga, Texas and Creighton are the only NCAA victories since the current WAC was reorganized in 2005.

The last WAC win in the NCAA prior to Nevada’s mini-run was a 2003 victory by Tulsa.

I firmly believe that Utah State deserved to be in the tournament this year, but I’m also of the strong opinion that Utah State needs to play a better non-conference schedule if it wants more respect around the country.

Stew Morrill is one of the most underrated coaches in the land, but he’s also as stubborn as they come. He won’t play 2-for-1s, so if a school won’t come to Logan, you won’t find them on Utah State’s schedule.

A lot of the “big boys” don’t want any part of Logan, because the Aggies are nearly unbeatable there, and no big-name team wants to lose to a mid-major. Beating Utah State at home is like Kansas losing at home. It happens only on rare occasions.

Money for travel is certainly an issue, but there is nothing wrong with home and home games against in-state rivals BYU and Utah. What’s wrong with looking at the West Coast Conference? You have three solid teams there in Gonzaga, Portland and Saint Mary’s.

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How is your NCAA pool going?

No doubt fans across America are ripping up their brackets after Kansas’ upset loss at the hands of Northern Iowa. Georgetown losing in the first round hosed a lot of people, especially if they had the Hoyas getting to the Sweet 16 and beyond which they were expected to do.

None of my upset specials have worked out. I did pick Saint Mary’s, but I didn’t consider their win over Richmond much of an upset.

I have just two of my Final Four left – Kentucky and Syracuse. I had picked Kansas to win it all, beating Kentucky in the finals.

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And while we’re on the subject of Saint Mary’s, I look for the Gaels’ Randy Bennett’s name to pop up for coaching vacancies at St. John’s and Oregon.

Bennett has done a great job at SMC, and he was a strong candidate along with ex-Nevada coach Mark Fox for the Cal job which eventually went to ex-Stanford coach Mike Montgomery, who had a short-lived NBA career with Golden State.

The other names I’m hearing, especially for the Oregon job, are Mark Few of Gonzaga and former Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo. You would think Few would want to move up a level and coach in a power conference, but some guys like being the big fish in a small pond, and I think Few is one of those guys.

Bennett is said to love the Bay Area, which is why the Cal job was so attractive. At some point somebody will knock at his door with a good offer.