Some would say that the Mountain West Conference was the media darling going into the 2013 NCAA tournament with a total of five NCAA bids. As you recall New Mexico (No. 3 seed), UNLV (No. 5 seed), San Diego State (No. 7 seed), Colorado State (No. 8 seed) and Boise State (No. 12 seed) received invites to the big dance, while ACC only received four bids, which irritated both Virginia and Maryland coaches who voiced their concerns about being snubbed by the committee. It was the perfect storm for the Mountain West.
Mountain West fans and the media justified the five bids since the conference had the highest conference RPI .5803 and went 87-26 against all Division 1 programs in non-conference games. Factor in there were only nine teams in the conference and no real poor programs, the conference RPI was led by its top teams. Add in Wyoming who went 13-0 in November and December before having to release star player Luke Martinez for a bar room brawl, and factor in Air Force who finished with 18-14. The Mountain West finished with seven of nine programs well over .500. The only two teams finished below .500 in conference were newcomers Fresno St and Nevada.
2013-14 will be different year. Don't expect five tournament bids. Especially after the Mountain West's collapse in NCAA tournament; winning just two games (SDSU beat Oklahoma 70-55 and Colorado State defeating Missouri 84-72) and losing five, with no teams reaching the Sweet 16. The five losses were all disappointments for the Mountain West especially Harvard's 68-62 upset win over third seed New Mexico and a lesser Cal team ousted UNLV 64-61, which busted many brackets.
Boise State couldn't win their play in game against a very good La Salle team losing 80-71. And in the second round national champs Louisville pounded Colorado State 82-56 and Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast upset San Diego State 81-71. The critics take away; the Mountain West Conference was overrated.
The big question will be how can the Mountain West keep its RPI amongst the nations best after losing so much talent in conference? Lets take a look at the current 2013-2014 pre-season non-conference key games and holiday tournaments to see how that may impact the conference RPI.
Holiday Tournament - Charleston Classic: Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, New Mexico, UMass, Nebraska, Temple and UAB
Non-Conference - Kansas, Cincinnati, Marquette and New Mexico State
Holiday Tournament - Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic: Mississippi St, Santa Clara, South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida A&M, Radford and Sacred Heart.
Non-Conference - Arizona, Arizona State and Illinois.
Holiday Tournament - Wooden Legacy: Arizona St, Creighton, Marquette, Miami, George Washington, Charleston and CS Fullerton
Non-Conference - Arizona, Washington and Kansas
Holiday Tournament - Diamond Head Classic: Akron, Boise St, George Mason, Hawaii, Iowa St, Oregon St, Saint Mary's and South Carolina
Non-Conference - Kentucky
Non-Conference - Colorado and Denver
Holiday Tournament - Global Sports Classic - Laramie: TBD
World Vision Classic - Reno: TBD
Five Mountain West schools - Colorado State, Air Force, San Jose State, Utah State and Fresno State haven't been announced as playing in an early-season tournament or round-robin field. The CBE Hall of Fame Classic, Barclays Center Classic, Hoops for Hope, 2K Sports Classic, Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the NIT Season Tip-off are the major non-exempt tournaments that have established host teams but still have vacancies.
We all anxiously await the non conference schedules and holiday tournament bids that are forthcoming.