Full Court Press: Mountain West Tournament seeding scenarios, and what is needed for CSU and UNM to make the NCAA Tournament


Sorry for missing Monday's Full Court Press, I've been very busy as of late and simply have not had the time to get in front of a computer. I'll recap the entire past week of action before diving into Saturday's matchups.

Last Saturday turned out to be a big day for two Mountain West teams. BYU got a 13 point win over San Diego State, this time on the road 80-67. Jimmer Fredette had an off-shooting night, only (only!) scoring 25 points, but he did dish out 9 assists as the rest of the BYU team picked up the slack as the team made 14 shots from behind the arc.

On the other side of the spectrum, Air Force handed Colorado State a devastating road upset, 74-57. The Falcons really simply pulled away from the Rams late, as the game was very close and heated up until about 8 minutes left when Air Force surprisingly turned up the defense and couldn't miss.

The loss was absolutely devastating for a Ram team who was squarely on the bubble before the game. The Rams at-large hopes aren't completely dead, but they will need some big wins in order to get in the tournament without an auto-bid. In other Mountain West action, UNLV downed Wyoming, 90-79, and New Mexico avoided yet another upset against TCU, 80-70.

After BYU's Aztec beatdown in San Diego, the Cougars wer riding high. They were rewarded with a ranking of 3rd in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today poll and they received a one seed in many bracketologists projected brackets. The nation (that is, the nation that watches college basketball) was completely enthralled with Jimmer & Co. going to the Final Four. That was before Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Brandon Davies was suspended from the team for the rest of this season due to his violation of BYU's honor code. The national media jumped on the story and the team was immediately thrust into the spotlight from the Davies controversy. Lost in the stories of Davies suspension was the fact that BYU had a revenge game at home against New Mexico to play after the Cougars fell earlier in the year at The Pit.

Apparently the team's focus was not with the task at hand which was taking care of a struggling Lobo squad. New Mexico put the Cougars in a chokehold and forced them to tap out by halftime, leading by as many 20 points at times. Final Score: Lobos 82, Cougars 64. The other three weekday games went according to plan. San Diego State whipped Wyoming, 85-58. Air Force followed up their big win over Colorado State with a close win over TCU, 70-65. Colorado State avoided looking ahead to their major matchup with San Diego State Saturday by taking care of Utah, 78-65.

Now, to answer the question I posed in the title, I believe New Mexico is back in contention for an at-large bid. Now granted, they are about 10-12 spots out right now, but some losses from some teams ahead of them this weekend could really help. They're going to have to have that happen as well as a run to the MWC Championship game in order for them to get an at-large bid, and both are very possible.

The way the MWC seeding looks like it will turn out, New Mexico will get Colorado State in the first round. If they can get past the Rams (Who they split the season series with), then their second round matchup will be with BYU. The Cougars matchup horribly with New Mexico and the Lobos have shown they have the ability to exploit it. New Mexico would have a real chance at getting another giant win while on their way to the championship game. Depending on what happens Saturday and during the conference tournaments, that might be enough to seal the deal for the Lobos. Of course, you can never be sure you will make the Tournament if you're on the bubble (See SDSU 2009), but it wouldn't hurt to have beaten BYU three times and Colorado State twice.

Speaking of seeding scenarios, let's go over those:

Seeding Battles:

Battle for 1 seed

Battle for 3 seed

Battle for 5/6 seed

Battle for 1 seed - BYU vs. San Diego State

San Diego State and BYU are both tied atop the standings with only one game remaining on their schedule. BYU plays Wyoming, and SDSU hosts Colorado State. BYU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker due to sweeping SDSU during the regular season, so the only way San Diego State gets the 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament is if they win the regular season outright, which is very unlikely to happen.

The first problem for SDSU in getting the 1 seed is that BYU plays Wyoming. The only way that BYU goes down to the Cowboys is if A) Jimmer is shot or kidnapped on the bus ride to the arena, or B) The whole team can't get Brandon Davies out of their heads. Even if a miracle happens and the Cougars fall to Wyoming, San Diego State still has to hold their own against a Colorado State team in which they needed a buzzer beating shot to beat in their first meeting.

Basically, this is a lock for BYU, with a mathematical chance of the Aztecs getting the win.

 

Battle for 3 seed - UNLV vs. Colorado State

Unlike the race for the 1 seed, UNLV and Colorado State are not currently tied in conference standings. Instead, UNLV owns a one game lead over the Rams with one game remaining. UNLV and Colorado State split their season series, so the tiebreaker comes down to record against other conference opponents. The only way that UNLV and Colorado State could end up tied for third is if the Rebels drop one in Salt Lake City against Utah and the Rams are able to upset San Diego State.

That would give Colorado State a 1-1 record against San Diego State this season, which would mean they would get the tiebreaker over UNLV since both the Runnin' Rebels and Rams went 0-2 against BYU and UNLV went 0-2 against San Diego State while CSU went 1-1 against the Aztecs.

With only one game remaining, this seed isn't as much of a lock for UNLV as it is for BYU, but all the Rebels have to do to guarantee the three seed is take care of Utah. If they aren't able to do that, then the San Diego State - Colorado State game becomes that much more important.

 

Battle for the 5/6 seed - New Mexico vs. Air Force vs. Utah

These three teams are all fighting for spots 5,6, and 7 in the Mountain West Tournament. All three teams definitely don't want to end up with the 7 seed since that means facing BYU/San Diego State in the first round instead of seeing UNLV/Colorado State. New Mexico plays Air Force on Saturday, but according to the MWC's tiebreaking policy, this won't end up mattering (Note: Tiebreaking is only necessary if Air Force beats New Mexico and Utah beats UNLV).

In a three way tie, the records of each team against the highest team in the final regular season standings shall be compared until the tie is broken into a two way tie.

That means that all three team's records will be compared to BYU's in which New Mexico breaks away from the tie due to their 2-0 record against BYU to get the five seed. That leaves Utah and Air Force, in which Air Force holds the head-to-head tiebreaker and gets the 6 seed.

New Mexico has secured the 5 seed no matter what happens, and the only way Utah and Air Force swap seeds is if Utah beats UNLV and Air Force beats New Mexico. In otherwords, it's very unlikely that Utah gets out of having to face either BYU or San Diego State in the first round.

Best game from last week: BYU @ San Diego State

The lights were on in San Diego as the Aztecs' student section "The Show" came prepared. This game was the first nationally televised MWC basketball game as it was on CBS and it didn't disappoint. The crowd was raucous, but BYU's hot shooting, 14 for 20 from three point range, killed San Diego State as the Cougars pulled a big road win out, 80-67.

 

As far as Colorado State's NCAA Tournament at-large chances goes, they are right in the thick of things. Thanks to a ton of teams ahead of them losing, Colorado State is back in the First Four Out in just about every bracketologist's bracket. A win over San Diego State on Saturday and a first round victory should be all that is needed for a CSU at-large bid. If the Rams can't pull one out in San Diego, then they will simply have to get the MWC Tournament Championship, as that would mean a win over New Mexico and BYU or San Diego State.

 

With this being the last weekend of the regular season for the MWC's teams, these games become majorly important in terms of seeding. The way the order of the games is set up, San Diego State will know come game time whether or not it can get the 1 seed with a win, since BYU plays before them. Same thing goes for Air Force and whether they have clinched the MWC Tournament 6 seed or not since the UNLV @ Utah game should end right as the Air Force @ New Mexico game tips off

Wyoming @ BYU

Saturday

1:30 P.M. MT

The Mtn.

UNLV @ Utah

Saturday

2:00 P.M. MT

Versus 

Air Force @ New Mexico

Saturday

4:00 P.M. MT

The Mtn.

Colorado State @ San Diego State

Saturday

7:00 P.M. PT

The Mtn.

Game to Watch: Colorado State @ San Diego State

A win for Colorado State here would mean a ton for their NCAA Tournament chances, and San Diego State could possibly get the Mountain West Tournament 1 seed if they win here. Huge game for the Rams and we'll see if they can do in San Diego to the Aztecs what they couldn't do in Fort Collins - finish them off.

 

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