LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10: Travis Franklin #1 of the Colorado State Rams and A.J. Hardeman #00 of the New Mexico Lobos fight for a rebound during a quarterfinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 10, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Full Court Press is back for another season! Last year we did this during conference season and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I decided to bring it back. The idea is quite simple, every 3 or 4 days I will put a post recapping the previous set of games in the Mountain West, putting in some general analysis about the Mountain West title race and preview the next set of games. These posts will most likely be put up on every Friday and Tuesday.
Conference season is back in session! Last season, conference season was very exciting for basketball as there was 5 teams in the conference competing for a bid in the NCAA Tournament while BYU and San Diego State was capturing the national scene, being ranked in the Top 10 for most of the season. With 5 teams playing well, it created a situation where there was an important matchup every Wednesday or Saturday in the conference. This year, it isn't quite the same situation as BYU is out of the picture, but it doesn't like it is going to be a bad season to watch either.
UNLV comes in as the favorite to win the conference with a 16-2 record, a #12 ranking in both polls, and wins over then-top-ranked North Carolina and Illinois in the United Center at Chicago. San Diego State and New Mexico aren't far behind as both have 14-2 records. The Aztecs are ranked 22nd and New Mexico is 30th if you count the receiving votes category. These three teams are the squads expected to contend for the title this season, so they should make for some pretty intriguing games.
Wyoming is quite the surprise this season as Larry Shyatt has the Cowboys at a 14-2 record and playing much better than was expected for a first year head coach taking over the reigns of a troubled program. Tim Miles has Colorado State in about the same situation they were at this point last season, in which the Rams were a couple of wins away from an NCAA Tournament berth.
Jim Christian's TCU team has been back and forth this season, as a couple of bad losses have led to a 10-5 record for the Horned Frogs, but they also have semi-impressive victories over Virginia, Houston, and Texas Tech. Air Force has been surprisingly decent, as they are 10-4. In short, the Falcons have beaten who they're supposed to beat and lost to who they're supposed to lose to. What has been kind of surprising is how well Air Force has played in their losses. Last season, this team was a mess, losing by double digits more often than not, but this season they have lost by a reasonable amount in all of their losses.
And then there is newcomer Boise State, who hasn't been all that impressive this season but definitely hasn't been terrible either. The Broncos are 10-5 with losses to decent mid-majors and wins over other decent mid-majors. Nothing too impressive or concering from that squad.
Here are the current MWC Standings:
|San Diego State||0-0||14-2|
|San Diego State||56|
According to the RPI, Colorado State is in very good shape coming into conference season, which means that they could be going to the NCAA Tournament this year if they play well during conference season. Definitely don't sleep on the Rams. The RPI also shows that New Mexico and San Diego State are going to have to get some important victories in order to make the tournament, as their RPI is below the threshold right now.
This week's games:
Game of the week: UNLV @ San Diego State
Both teams are ranked and this game should be an early factor in who wins the usually tight race for the Mountain West crown. Viejas Arena should be rocking and the game should be well, so I would definitely tune in to this game, even if you aren't a fan of either team.