I am pleased as anyone about the progress Larry Shyatt has made with this basketball team in just two-thirds of a season. We have come a long way in terms of playing as a team since last year and the end of the used car salesman era. Wyoming’s record currently sits at 17-4 and many national experts say Wyoming at this point in time is an NCAA Tournament bubble team. I would urge you to listen to these “experts” with caution so you are not upset at the end of the year if the Pokes are blocked from NCAA play. Why do I urge caution? Look at the chart below with RPI’s and strength of schedule for Mountain West teams from statsheet.com:
Wyoming has played the weakest strength of schedule in the Mountain West with a 188th ranking. The projected SOS at the end of the regular season according to statsheet is 101 so conference play will improve that figure quite a bit. That along with an RPI of 80 though will not be enough to get Wyoming an NCAA at-large spot. The NCAA has left out schools with much higher RPI ratings (50 and below) and similar strengths of schedule in the last few years so the Pokes are facing an uphill battle.
I don’t say these things to be a downer. I just want to be as realistic as possible and I think most Wyoming fans understand that our schedule has not been good enough to merit an at-large selection. The good news is this is just year one of a rebuilding process under Shyatt and it is safe to say he is ahead of schedule. This team plays solid defense and if over time the offensive problems can be worked out (through better recruiting) the Wyoming basketball program has a very bright future. So enjoy the ride, pack the AA, and remember there is an automatic berth at-stake at the end of the conference season in Vegas!