The Mountain West basketball league is a young league but it is typically considered anywhere from the 6th to 10th rated league and this year they were the sixth rated conference. Players typically stay three and most likely four years which is how the other non-BCS leagues build their good teams. In the Mountain West history only the 2004 Utah team and the 2007 UNLV team have made a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
This seems puzzling especially this year with five teams from outside the BCS leagues advanced to the Sweet 16. Outside of Gonzaga and Butler who have made multiple Sweet 16 experiences typically it is teams that are experienced with multiple juniors and seniors. However, the Mountain West which is typically a better league then most of the mid majors with a team or two in the top 25 throughout the years.
For some reason the league has not had the success even though they have more talent then most of the mid-major leagues and the players stay for four years. The reason to me is baffling since the Mountain West is perceived and at times actually better then 'Cinderella' teams that make the Sweet 16 with experienced coaches. To be fair for the Mountain West only once in the leagues history was a team favored to make the Sweet 16 and that was this years New Mexico team who was a three seed. Beyond that the next highest was Utah's 2009 tournament squad that was a 5th seed.
Blame can not be placed on being a four seed or better and being expected to make it that far in the tournament. Perhaps it could boil down to coaching inexperience within the league. There is no long term coach in the league with the longest tenured being Steve Fisher who has been at San Diego State for eleven years. That is one theory besides the seeding which has not been favorable to the Mountain West.