MWC Basketball Final Stretch Preview


I group College Basketball into 5 stages: 1. Non-Conference Season 2. First half of Conference Season 3. Second half of Conference Season 4. Conference Tournaments 5. NCAA Tournament. We are now heading into the third stage, the second half of the conference season.

The MWC has shown to be a very good basketball conference this season, with 5 teams in serious contention for an NCAA Tournament bid. There are a few scenarios in which the MWC could get 5 teams in, but more realistically it will probably be just 3 or 4. I'll go over the remaining schedule of each of the 5 MWC teams that can make the NCAA Tournament and go through what will be needed for them to make the NCAA Tournament.

Follow me after the jump for a preview of what San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico, BYU and UNLV need to do in order to ensure the best spot for them in the NCAA Tournament.

BYU

RPI = 2

Remaining Schedule:

UNLV
@Air Force
Utah
@TCU
Colorado State
@San Diego State
New Mexico
Wyoming

Best Case Scenario: BYU is currently in line for a 2 seed, and with their remaining schedule it is very possible for them to get that. BYU has four tough opponents remaining: UNLV, Colorado State, San Diego State and New Mexico. If they go at least 3-1 out of those 4 opponents and beat the rest, they should be a 3 seed at least, maybe a 2 seed depending on what happens in the national landscape.

What I think will happen: I'm a UNLV fan, so I'd love to see the Cougars fall at home to the Rebels, but I just don't see that happening. UNLV was shot out of the gym on their home floor and that was mainly because of bad rotations on defense. I see the Cougars losing once more in their final tough road game of the season - at San Diego State. The Aztecs kept this one close against a raucous crowd at the Mariott Center until they went ice cold. At home Jimmer & Co. won't have the crowd behind them and I see the Aztecs winning that one, Cougars go 27-3 (14-2) this season.

 

San Diego State

RPI = 3

Remaining Schedule:

TCU
Utah
@UNLV
New Mexico
@Air Force
BYU
@Wyoming
Colorado State

Best Case Scenario: Of course the best scenario for each of these teams is to go undefeated in their final eight games, but that can't happen for each of them. San Diego State's situation is very similar to BYU, they both are in very good position to get a two seed, but will have to go at least 3-1 out of the 4 tough opponents in the MWC in order to get there.

What I think will happen: I've already said that I think SDSU will win the rematch with BYU on Montezuma Mesa, but I still think the Aztecs will go 3-1. They have 3 road games and one away against the other opponents in the Top 5 of the MWC, and I think they will go down on the road at UNLV. The Aztecs only beat the Rebels by 6 at home, even with the Rebels only scoring 4 points in the final 7 minutes of the game. With the post play being much improved for the Rebels, they might finally be able to combat Kawhi Leonhard and Malcom Thomas just enough for them to pull out the W with the the crowd behind them.

 

UNLV

RPI = 30

Remaining Schedule:

@BYU
@TCU
San Diego State
Air Force
@Colorado State
@New Mexico
Wyoming
@Utah

Best Case Scenario: In almost every bracketology I've seen, UNLV is an 8 seed. At this point UNLV is not a lock and in order to ensure they make the NCAA Tournament they will have to be at least .500 against the top of the MWC. Best Case scenario would be to at least split SDSU-BYU and beat CSU and New Mexico. That would get the Rebels a seed higher than that 8 spot that would pit them against a 1 seed in the second round.

What I think will happen: UNLV makes the NCAA Tournament as a 7 seed or better. Chances are they won't beat BYU in the Mariott Center, but beating SDSU in front of a sold-out Thomas and Mack Center is very possible. Colorado State and New Mexico will be tough road games, but if the Rebels post play keeps up, they can win at Moby Arena (which is now a tough place to play) and The Pit.

 

Colorado State

RPI = 48

Remaining Schedule:

@Wyoming
New Mexico
@TCU
UNLV
@BYU
@Air Force
Utah
@San Diego State

Best Case Scenario: Colorado State is on the outside looking in right now after a 56-54 loss to SDSU at home Wednesday night. CSU's biggest win so far was against UNLV, and that's not a true marquee win considering the Rebels RPI is only 30. CSU has shown that they deserve to be MWC contenders by playing BYU, SDSU, and New Mexico down to the wire, but without the win from any of those games, their resume looks sketchy at best. The Rams will need to go 3-1 against the MWC's top teams in order to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

What I think will happen: Colorado State could have won their three MWC losses, but without those wins I think CSU will have to make it to the MWC championship game in order to make the NCAA Tournament. Both UNLV and New Mexico have improved their post presence greatly since the beginning of conference play and those games could both easily end up being losses. With the SDSU and BYU games being on the road, it will be near impossible for CSU to get a win at either of those venues.

 

New Mexico

RPI = 53

Remaining Schedule:

Wyoming
@Colorado State
@San Diego State
Utah
UNLV
@TCU
@BYU
Air Force

Best Case Scenario: Until last Saturday, the Lobos were out of contention for a NCAA Tournament bid. They now have an RPI of 53 after wins over BYU and Air Force. The problem for the Lobos is that the road to the Tournament doesn't get any easier. They had most of their home games in the first half of conference season but were only able to capatilize on 2 out of the 3 home games plus lost the other one to UNLV on the road. The Lobos, like CSU, are going to need to go at least 3-1 against the upper echelon of the MWC if they want to go to the NCAA Tournament.

What I think will happen: Too little, too late. The Lobos had chemistry issues for the first 6 games after Drew Gordon joined the team. After that, the team looked like the New Mexico we expected to see all season and Drew Gordon was a monster down low. I do think that this team is an NCAA Tournament caliber team, but I don't think that they can win on the road in any of the three tough venues they must travel to in the rest of the season. I certainly hope I'm wrong, but New Mexico would still need to pull at least 2 road upsets and beat UNLV at home in order to make the NCAA Tournament. I just can't see it happening.

 

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