While Texas State’s move to the Western Athletic Conference clearly placed the Bobcats on a higher plain of competition in football, it’s a different story in basketball.
From what the RPI rankings tell us through the non-conference portion of the men’s college basketball season, the WAC is barely better so far this season than the Southland Conference, which the Bobcats departed for their move to the WAC. According to RealTimeRPI.com, for example, the WAC ranks 16th out of 31 NCAA Division I conferences with an average RPI of .4846, while the Southland ranks 17th at .4841. The Sun Belt Conference, to which Texas State moves next year, ranks 21st at .4761.
The Bobcats began their only season in the WAC in the last week with two losses at Strahan Coliseum, dropping their record to 4-10 overall and 0-2 in the league. They lost, 72-55, to San Jose State (RPI No. 164) on Dec.29, then fell to Utah State (RPI No. 104), 91-57, two days later.
The Bobcats are ranked 285th out of 347 Division I teams in RPI this season. Last year, they finished 288th. Their RPI this year of .4201 ranks ninth in the ten-team WAC and would rank eighth in the Southland Conference.
Now, the Bobcats take their first road swing in the league, playing at No. 166 Denver Thursday night and at No. 185 New Mexico State Saturday.
The problem that has hounded the Bobcats throughout the season, and especially in the two conference games, is field goal shooting. The Bobcats shot only a combined 34.7 percent (42 of 121) in the two WAC games, compared with a combined 51.8 percent (59 of 114) for their two league opponents. For the season in total, the Bobcats are shooting 41.3 percent, compared with 45.5 percent for their opponents.
The big barometer for the Bobcats on this road trip will be the performance of 6-10 senior Matt Staff, who has been shut down by the first two WAC opponents.
Staff averaged 13.3 points and 7.9 rebounds in 25 minutes per game last year, and he averages 14.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game this year. But Staff totaled only 10 points and 14 rebounds in the last two games, during which me made 10 turnovers and hit only four of 16 shots.