The WAC was fairly strong this past season. It was rated the 11th best conference by Sagarin, which is the highest it's been since 2006-07, when the conference was led by a Nevada team that was led by three future NBA Draft picks (Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions were drafted at the end of the season, and Javale McGee went in the first round the following season). While only Utah State was an at-large quality team this past season, the conference did end up with four teams in the RPI Top 80, and it ended up with two Tournament teams when Utah State was knocked off in the WAC tournament and earned an at-large bid.
Heading into 2010-11 it seemed to me that Utah State would be improved, and I picked them to easily win the WAC, but I also picked New Mexico State, Fresno State and Nevada to all be quality teams behind them. But only days after the 2009-10 season ended, New Mexico State lost star Jahmar Young to the Draft. Nevada then lost Armon Johnson and possible lottery pick Luke Babbitt. And today comes the news that Fresno State will lose its leading scorer and rebounder Paul George to the Draft.
Certainly this means that Utah State will now go from being the WAC favorite to being the heavy, heavy WAC favorite. But there are downsides to being in a weakened conference, which is that you've got to go almost undefeated to earn an at-large NCAA Tournament bid if you get upset in the conference tournament. It's worth noting that the Selection Committee basically admitted that Utah State got bumped up a few spots in the "S curve" beyond where their overall resume deserved because the Committee had respect for the 14-2 record they put up in the WAC, and that if not for that extra respect they might have gotten left out. Will they get the same respect for going 14-2 next season? Unlikely. I think they'll need a big scalp or two in their out-of-conference schedule to firm up their resume just in case.
As for the rest of the conference, one winner out of this is Louisiana Tech, a team that finished in fourth place this past season but lost a lot to graduation. They have a lot of young talent but I thought 2010-11 would be a rebuilding season for them as they primed up for the 2011-12 season. But with the other teams I put ahead of them losing so much to the Draft (I had picked Louisiana Tech to finish fifth in the WAC in 2010-11), there's no reason the Bulldogs can't surprise people again and actually finish higher than they did in 2009-10.