The Mountain West Tournament is finally upon us. Us Mountain West fans that want to see our to team make it to the NCAA Tournament will root for our team in the stands or on TV. Some fans get a double reward from following this year's Tournament. Along with the opportunity of watching meaningful basketball that is fun to watch, they will get to have a weekend in Las Vegas. Before I go into too much detail on the Tournament and its scenarios, let's see what happened last week in the Mountain West.
On Saturday, we were supposed to be shown three blowouts and a close game between San Diego State and Colorado State, but we got almost the exact opposite. Air Force and New Mexico went down to the wire, with the Lobos pulling out the home victory to stay on the bubble, 66-61. In another game that was supposed to blowout, BYU beat Wyoming 102-78.
You are probably looking at the score and saying, "Supposed to be?" But the halftime score and play-by-play explains all. The Cowboys had the score tied at 35 before Jackson Emery hit a three in the final seconds of the first half to give the Cougars a 38-35 lead heading into the half. From then on, the game gradually drew further and further apart. If you look at the play-by-play, then you can tell that BYU's lead was only at nine points with ten minutes remaining in the half. The Cougars pulled away at the end of the game due to Wyoming's lack of defense and BYU's proficiency on offense.
During BYU's regular season championship celebration, Brandon Davies was allowed to cut down the nets along with the rest of the team. Davies was a big part of them getting to the point of a regular season championship and I think it was the right move.
Oh yeah, there were other games played on Saturday... More after the jump.
UNLV's shooting touch returned in the Runnin' Rebels 78-58 demolishing of Utah on Senior Night in Salt Lake City. Quintrell Thomas, Tre'Von Willis, and Oscar Bellfield all tied for the scoring leader at 12 points and Anthony Marshall and Carlos Lopez added 9 points. The game turned out to be overall good shooting by the entire team, not just one guy getting the hot hand. The Rebels ended up with a field goal percentage of 49% and a 67% 3 point field goal percentage.
That's not even indicative of how hot the entire team was. UNLV didn't miss a shot for the first eight minutes of the game, and the first missed shot was blocked by Utah's David Foster. The Rebels shot 61% in the first half, 5-6 (83%) from behind the arc.
As good as UNLV was, Utah was bad. The Runnin' Utes shot 38% from the field and 23% from three point land. UNLV outrebounded Utah pretty badly, 43-26. The Utes were also well behind in the assist category, where they lost 22-9. Oh how far Utah has fallen from the NCAA Tournament 5 seed it had two years ago...
In what was supposed to be a great game between Colorado State and San Diego State, with CSU looking for a marquee road win to put on their NCAA Tournament Resume, San Diego State held Colorado State to just 21 points in the second half to win 66-48. This game was very entertaining in the first half, as the halftime score turned out to be 27-27, but a 12-4 run by the Aztecs to start the second half set the tone for the rest of the game. Simply amazing defense from San Diego State kept Colorado State from scoring more than 8 points in the final 8 minutes.
Now that we have last week's results out of the way, let's take a look at the Mountain West Tournament and the resumes of the squads who have a shot at getting into the NCAA Tournament. First things first, here is your guide to when and where to watch the Mountain West Tournament this season. You now have no excuse to say that you don't know where to watch the games, since that is available for reference at all times.
We have three locks for the NCAA Tournament in the Mountain West: BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV. No matter if they lose in the first round, these teams will be in the NCAA Tournament. Now granted, a first round bad loss would definitely hurt one of those teams, but its definitely not going to knock them out of the Tournament. Colorado State and New Mexico, on the other hand, are both on the wrong side of the Bubble.
Here are the Mountain West team's resumes:
San Diego State Aztecs
UNLV Runnin' Rebels
Record: 23-7 overall; 11-5 conference
Average RPI Win: 151 Loss: 38
RPI 1-50 Wins: Wisconsin, at Kansas State, at Colorado State
RPI 51-100 Wins: Tulsa (N), Virginia Tech (N), New Mexico, at New Mexico
Bad (RPI 150+) Losses: UC-Santa Barbara
Other Losses: at Louisville, BYU, at San Diego State, Colorado State, at BYU, San Diego State
Colorado State Rams
New Mexico Lobos
(Hat Tip to Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Bracket for the helpful format)
Looking at these resumes, you can see that the first three are locks. Both BYU and San Diego State have no questionable losses and have many RPI 1-50 Wins, and UNLV has one questionable loss and three RPI 1-50 Wins, but those teams are not in question. The teams that are would be Colorado State and New Mexico.
Colorado State is lacking a marquee win. A road win over UNLV looks nice, but its not something that would allow for an NCAA Tournament Committee member to argue that the Rams would be snubbed if they weren't let in. They have the opportunity in the Mountain West Tournament to change that mindset. Their first round date with New Mexico would allow them to get to 4 RPI 51-100 wins, but they would also have to get by BYU, a team they have struggled with this season, in order to put the Rams in good shape.
Just a quick thought, this year's Colorado State team is in a situation that reminds me of the '09 San Diego State team that beat UNLV and BYU before barely losing to Utah by 2 in the MWC Tournament. San Diego State was considered by most bracketologists to be the third MWC team in that season, but it was not to be, as the committee snubbed the Aztecs. Just sayin'.
New Mexico is in a further away position than the Rams. CSU is currently on the bubble and just needs a couple good wins to push them onto the right side. New Mexico on the other hand is way off the bubble and would need three big wins in order to get an at-large bid. The funny thing is that if New Mexico gets three big wins from the MWC Tournament, they would get an automatic bid for having won the Mountain West Tournament.
When it comes to the Lobos, they are going to have to get past Colorado State, BYU and UNLV/San Diego State in order to get to the NCAA Tournament. It's a pretty tall order, but New Mexico has played every MWC team tough and swept BYU as well. Don't count out New Mexico in this round.
Best Game from Saturday: Air Force @ New Mexico
The only game with real meaning, Colorado State @ San Diego State, didn't turn out to be close, so this one goes to the only close game on Saturday. New Mexico held off Air Force in order to avoid yet another upset, 66-61.
Final MWC Standings:
|Team||Conference Record||Overall Record|
|San Diego State||14-2||29-2|
|San Diego State||3|
We only have the Play-in game Wednesday, so I'll put the information up here and post mini-segments of Full Court Press each morning before the next round.
TCU vs. Wyoming
2:00 P.M. PT
Game to Watch on Wednesday: None
If you watch Wyoming play TCU when there is a ton of other great college basketball on, then we need to talk*.
* - Excludes Wyoming or TCU fans.
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