LAS VEGAS — The University of Wyoming men’s basketball program is in wait-and-see mode for the next few days.
But coach Larry Shyatt was certain after the Cowboys’ 59-46 loss to No. 15 New Mexico in Wednesday’s quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament that his team will be in the postseason.
UW will find out where and when either Sunday night or Monday morning.
Even though UW (19-13) has lost 13 of its last 19 games after a 13-0 start, Shyatt said the Cowboys will play in their second straight postseason tournament because of their body of work and what computer rankings show.
“The computers never went to college,” Shyatt said. “The computers don’t know the names of the coaches or the players. They don’t know who is supposed to win. They only know who the best teams are.”
The Ratings Percentage Index is one of the best-known computer rankings, and UW’s RPI was 70 out of all 347 Division I teams as of Thursday, according to RealTimeRPI.com. Other RPI platforms have had UW in the high 60s.
There are other computer rankings, such as the Jeff Sagarin ratings, in which UW was 110th on Tuesday. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index had UW at 83rd on Thursday.
But RPI is what has Shyatt’s attention, and he hopes that ranking will be good enough to get UW into the 32-team National Invitation Tournament.
“I don’t think there has ever been an NIT team not selected below (an RPI) of 70,” Shyatt said.
UW had an RPI of 92 last season and was selected to the 16-team College Basketball Invitational, where it went 1-1. If there is no NIT invitation, it appears CBI is the next option. UW has had talks with, and filled out paperwork for, both tourneys.
If UW gets into one or the other, the next question is: Where will it play?
Since 2005 the NIT has been run by the NCAA and its field is seeded like the NCAAs. UW’s struggles likely would have it as a lower seed and on the road if taken by the NIT.
There would be a better chance for a home game in the CBI, but the school would have to guarantee the tournament $35,000 through ticket revenue to host a first-round game.
And there could be a potential facility conflict if the UW women’s basketball team gets an invitation to the WNIT.
The Cowgirls were 23-6 entering their MW Tournament quarterfinals game with Colorado State Thursday.
They are expected to go to the WNIT if they don’t win the tourney and get the MW’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Opening round games for both the CBI and WNIT are Tuesday and Wednesday. UW athletics department officials have said that if there is a conflict between WNIT and CBI games on the same day in Laramie, the WNIT gets first priority.
UW was outrebounded by New Mexico 33-28. It went 8-13 this season when it was outrebounded by its opponents.
The Cowboys were 10-0 when they had more rebounds than their foes and 0-1 when they were even on the glass.
UW attempted a school-record 227 3-pointers this season, breaking the previous mark of 222 by the 1999-2000 team.
Senior point guard Derrious Gilmore made 72 shots from behind the arc, the fourth-most in school history for a season. His 200 attempts are the third-most in a season.