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WAC Basketball Tournament Betting Preview

3/9/11

The 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament will take place in Las Vegas, NV on March 9-12. The Aggies of Utah State (26-3, 13-1) have a death grip on the conference and will be a heavy favorite to win the tournament. Ranked #21 in the ESPN Poll at the time of this writing, Utah State has wins over Utah, Saint Mary’s and Boise State. They narrowly missed against Jimmer Fredette’s BYU team. It is likely that they will have to defeat Idaho for a second time to win this thing. They could run into trouble there as the Vandals are hungry team. Make no mistake though, Idaho is the better team. 6-7 Provo, UT native Tai Wesley (14.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 50 3P%) leads the Vandals. He has 6 double-doubles this year and just missed a triple-double on two occasions. His Aggies team will be extremely hard to take down as they seek to improve their stock before the Big Dance.

Idaho (16-12, 8-7) is the most likely team to knock Utah State from their perch atop the WAC. After all, they were the only team to beat them in regular season conference play. The Vandals rely heavily on sophomore C Kyle Barone (10.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG). The big ‘fella stands tall at 6-10. He had a double-double in Idaho’s win over the Aggies, but was largely ineffective in their loss. He will be the difference maker. IF he shows up they have got a fighting chance. Senior G Jeff Ledbetter (12.4 PPG, 2 APG) has been white hot down the stretch. He dropped 19 in a loss to Boise State before hanging 25 on Nevada in a game that the Vandals won. Idaho is a deep team with lots of playmakers and that will be an asset in the rapid paced conference tournament play.

While they are a long shot, Boise State (17-11, 9-6) deserves a look. The Broncos beat Idaho both times they played them, but were smashed in both appearances against Utah State. A scenario exists where Idaho could take out Utah State for them and then Boise could beat Idaho. However, this is unlikely. The Broncos are a solid team, but have had trouble putting teams away. They lost 6 of 7 before going on their current win streak of 5. G La’Shard Anderson (15.4 PPG, 4.9 APG) is their best scorer. He will have to play out of his mind for the Broncos to take the WAC Tournament. Stranger things have happened.

Both Idaho and Boise State are playing above their regular season marks by decent margins and as we preach come tourney time, no time like the present to be playing above your head. But this conference belongs to Utah State.

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