Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The latest SB Nation bracket projections are out, and they have four Mountain West teams. However, most surprising is that Colorado State is still not considered a lock while UNLV is.
The Mountain West is looking more and more like a four-bid league, which is still a great accomplishment. There is some small hope for Boise State and Air Force, but they need to rattle off some good wins to make a case. Boise State has the top-50 RPI which gives them a better chance than Air Force, but the Broncos must get the wins.
No. 3 New Mexico vs. No. 14 Harvard
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 Baylor or Villanova
No. 7 UNLV vs. No. 10 Mississippi
No. 7 Colorado State vs. No. 10 Illinois
Here is the analysis on the Mountain West this week:
Protected Seeds (1): South No. 3 New Mexico
While a home win over Air Force was the ideal way to close out the first half of Mountain West play, the second half of the round-robin started with a less than ideal performance at UNLV. Still, not many teams out there have an 11-4 record against the Top 100. New Mexico will have a chance to grab a 12th quality win (and seventh against the Top 50) when Boise State visits The Pit on Saturday.
Other Locks (2): San Diego State, UNLV
These two meet for the second time on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center, where the Rebels will need to complete a surprising sweep of the Aztecs (and to grab a fourth Top 50 win in the process) to stay in the league race. Before that game tips, midweek challenges await for both squads, as the Runnin' Rebels travel to Air Force, who took UNLV to overtime in the Desert, while the Aztecs visit Colorado State ... who took Steve Fisher's team to overtime in their first meeting.
It's never an easy week in the Mountain West, is it?
Safe for Now (1): Colorado State
Surprisingly, the Rams are tied with New Mexico in the loss column at the conference season's midpoint, with an intriguing travel schedule for the second half. Both the Lobos and San Diego State visit Fort Collins, but trips to UNLV and bubble teams Boise State, Wyoming and Air Force could challenge a CSU squad that isn't the greatest away from Moby Arena.
Bubble Out: Boise State, Wyoming, Air Force
The Broncos, back in the Top 50, might just regret Wednesday's one-point loss in San Diego if they don't see "Boise State" pop up during the Selection Show in a little less than five weeks. Defeating Wyoming on Saturday was a nice way to rebound, particularly since it knocked the Cowboys, now 2-7 in the Mountain West, pretty much out of the picture. Stunning the Lobos in Albuquerque on Saturday would certainly re-establish Boise State's candidacy. Air Force is in deep bubble trouble, despite a 5-4 MWC mark, after consecutive road losses to New Mexico and Nevada.
Not sure why Colorado State is even still in a lock status, they have a better RPI than UNLV, yet strength of schedule is less but it is still a top-60 schedule compared to UNLV's top-30 slate. The Rams have been more consistent than UNLV in league play and their only loses came against San Diego State and UNLV, so maybe that is the difference.