By Brian McInnis
Though many still consider it a down year for Western Athletic Conference basketball (witness the losing records of usual contenders New Mexico State and Nevada) the WAC still managed to send five teams to postseason tournaments.
>> Utah State (30-3) earned a 12th seed in the NCAA Tournament and meets No. 5 Kansas State in the opening round. Tough going here for the Aggies, who did pretty much all anyone could have asked of them all season, only to get a lower-tier seed despite a No. 23 ranking in the AP (and 17 in the coaches poll).
>> Hawaii (18-12), as we all know by now, accepted an invite to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Tuesday night against visiting Portland (20-11) of the West Coast Conference, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. Should UH win, it will find out how the rest of the CIT bracket shakes out. Four seeds (affording a bye in the next round) are assigned after the opening-round games, but UH likely isn't getting one of those.
>> Boise State (20-12), the runner-up in the WAC tournament, accepted an invitation to play in the College Basketball Invitational against Austin Peay. The Broncos had the best shot of anyone not named Utah State to make the NIT, but that didn't happen. Getting to host one of the eight first-round CBI games is a decent consolation prize.
>> Idaho (18-13) played well all season despite any true stars on its team, and was matched up with a hot San Jose State team at the wrong time for the Vandals. CIT selection chairman Riley Wallace was quick to offer UI an invitation, and the Vandals will play at San Francisco in one of 12 first-round games.
>> San Jose State (17-15) surprised many people in the WAC tournament with their three-day run, knocking off Hawaii and Idaho and nearly taking down Utah State. But they didn't surprise themselves, and now have a CBI berth to show for it. The Spartans play at Creighton on the other side of the CBI bracket from Boise State.
UH senior point guard Hiram Thompson looks his closest yet to a return to action from his injured left arm. He's not holding it as gingerly. Still, could be a longshot for him to play Tuesday.
A situation to keep an eye on is that of freshman point Bobby Miles. On a nice take to the basket about halfway through practice yesterday, Miles was hurt when all 265 pounds of center Doug Kurtz rolled into Miles' left knee on the way down. The backup point guard, who said he may have hyperextended it, was sidelined for the rest of practice.
If Miles can't play in tomorrow (Monday) practice, Miah Ostrowski could have to shoulder all 40 minutes himself against the Pilots. He's done it before.