As we do each Monday, we're checking in on the Mountain West Conference basketball standings to see how all 11 teams are doing in relation to NCAA tournament bids, MWC Tournament seeding and wrapping up the league's regular season championship.
|TEAM||CONF. W-L||OVERALL W-L||HOME||ROAD|
|San Diego State
|San Jose State||1-15||7-21||4-8||3-11|
The top of the MWC is still very well established and we're now less than a week away from the defacto regular season championship game on Saturday. But beyond that, there's a ton of things still up for grabs. Six different teams are still in the running for the remaining byes, while even Colorado State can move themselves up to as high as fifth. As we've discussed, it's highly unlikely the Mountain West picks up a third NCAA team now, however, barring one of the middle-of-the-pack squads running through the league tournament and picking up an auto-bid. Still, plenty to watch this week.
This week's big matchups:
Wednesday, Mar. 5 -- Nevada at Boise State: Just one game separates these two teams in the running for the all-important fourth bye in the conference tournament. Boise's been nearly unstoppable at home, while Nevada's played .500 ball on the road. This one won't be easy for either squad, but to the winner, there's obviously a huge reward -- but can the Wolf Pack muster up the energy they've been lacking of late? They've tumbled down to earth in recent weeks, losing six of seven, and appear to be in an absolute free fall. Their only wins since February 1 have both come against lowly Air Force.
Wednesday, Mar. 5 -- San Diego State at UNLV: San Diego State gets a difficult road tune-up before the home finale on Saturday. But they cannot afford to overlook the Rebels. While UNLV is out of the race for the league's top seed, they're still a very dangerous double-bye contender and still a very real threat to beat the Aztecs. SDSU just needs to take things one game at a time and focus on efficient scoring. They won't be eliminated from the regular season championship with a loss (tiebreaker would come down to RPI if they proceeded to beat New Mexico), but obviously that does them no favors either.
Saturday, Mar. 8 -- Colorado State at Wyoming: As mentioned above, Colorado State can climb as high as a five-seed, though that requires two wins this week, plus some help, too. The Rams do get a crack at one of the teams in their way, Wyoming, though Laramie's been a rough place to visit this season. Colorado State is just 4-8 on the road, which adds an extra layer of difficulty. But if they can pull the win and potentially jump into that fifth spot, it'll be an extra day off -- which could be huge after a grueling league season.
Saturday, Mar. 8 -- New Mexico at San Diego State: Here it is. The most important game of the year for both squads and the league as a whole. If both teams come in at 15-2, the Mountain West regular season title goes to the winner. Even if one team loses en route, though, RPI will decide the championship if they split the regular season series (see brief rundown above). Can the Aztec offense find its legs like they have the past two games (90 and 82 points scored, respectively)? Or can New Mexico put in another stifling performance of their own? This is appointment television on Saturday night.
Saturday, Mar. 8: UNLV at Nevada: Maybe UNLV has the third bye wrapped up already by this point. Maybe they don't. And if they don't, there's even a possibility that Nevada can swoop in and steal it themselves (would need a few other things to happen as well). If the Rebels can close the season strong and grab this win, along with a possible upset over SDSU, they certainly have an outside shot to take home the auto-bid that comes with the tournament championship. But first and foremost, priority should be grabbing that third bye.
So what do you think? Any storylines you're looking at during the last week of the regular season beyond the obvious ones? Any teams to fear the most come the MWC Tournament? Share your thoughts below.