The Idaho Vandals, as coach Don Verlin put it this week, are in a seeding race. It's pretty simple, If they win tonight, they lock in the third seed for the WAC tournament (with a remote chance of still earning the second seed). A loss opens up all kinds of possibilities.
We have more below.
Our lookahead for the Vandals is here (one quick correction: Idaho is 16-12 overall, not 16-11 like I have at the link). After Hawaii, Idaho comes back to the mainland to meet last-place San Jose State in the Spartans' Senior NIght. A win at San Jose seems much more of a sure thing compared to tonight's skirmish with the Warriors, who edged UI in Moscow earlier this season. But Verlin is worried about both legs of the final trip of the regular season.
"On paper you say, ‘Well, they’re not having a great year,' " he said of the Spartans. "But you start adding those things up — it’s Senior Night, long travel. That’s going to be a tough game and obviously it will matter in some sort of seeding. It’s a tough, tough road trip to end this year. No doubt about that."
The Vandals left Moscow at 4 a.m. Tuesday to travel early to Honolulu (the game tips a 9 p.m. PST tonight), and they'll leave Hawaii at 10 a.m. Friday to get into San Jose by late that night. "We just do a little walk-through on Friday; we don’t even get a chance to practice," Verlin said. "I think it’s always really tough."
We hinted at Idaho's seeding scenarios in our lead-in, and below are all of them, courtesy of Idaho SID Spencer Farrin. Again, the Vandals control their destiny in a way: if they beat Hawaii, they are assured of at least finishing third (where they finished last year).
It's important to note that the second tiebreaker, after head-to-head records, is to compare each team's record to the first-place team. So if UI beats Hawaii but loses at SJSU and Utah State wins out, both Idaho and USU would be 8-6 in the WAC. But the Vandals would get the third seed because they split with USU and Nevada and Utah State was swept by the Wolf Pack. That win over Nevada in Reno is also the reason Idaho would get the No. 2 seed if New Mexico State falters twice at home (to UNR and Fresno State) and UI wins twice. The Vandals and Aggies split their season series, but NMSU would have lost twice to Nevada -- so the two seed would go to Idaho if both teams are 9-5 in league.
Idaho gets the No. 2 seed if:
Idaho wins both games this week at Hawaii and San Jose State and New Mexico State loses both games this week at Nevada and Fresno State
Idaho gets the No. 3 seed if:
Idaho beats Hawaii on Thursday OR
Idaho loses to Hawaii on Thursday and wins at San Jose State on Saturday AND Utah State wins at Hawaii on Saturday
Idaho gets the No. 4 seed if:
Hawaii wins both games this week against Idaho/Utah State (regardless of the Idaho/USU at San Jose State outcomes) OR
*Idaho loses both games this week AND San Jose State beats Utah State AND Utah State wins at Hawaii AND Louisiana Tech wins both games this week at Nevada/Fresno State
Idaho gets the No. 5 seed if:
**Idaho loses both games this week AND Utah State wins at Hawaii (regardless of any other outcomes)
* This results in a four-way tie for third place at 7-7. Here are each team’s records against the group and the order of seeding. LTU finishes above UH based on its season sweep.
** If USU loses to SJSU along with this scenario, it creates a three-way tie for third place at 7-7. Here are each team’s records against the others in that tiebreaker (in seeding order):
We'll be following tonight's late game and will have updates on Twitter (@SR_JoshWright) -- follow along if you'd like.