Fresno State Bulldogs (15-15, 8-9 MWC) vs. San Jose State Spartans (7-22, 1-16)
WHEN: Wednesday, March 8, 7:00 PST
WHERE: The Event Center, San Jose, CA
TV: The game can be found online as part of the Mountain West Network.
RADIO: The Fresno broadcast can be heard on the local ESPN affiliate, 940 AM, while the San Jose State feed can be found in and around San Jose on 1590 AM and 90.5 FM.
LAST MEETING: On February 8, the Bulldogs defeated the Spartans 82-56 in Fresno.
A long regular season has finally reached its conclusion. Before the Bulldogs and Spartans descend on Las Vegas next week, though, the two must clash one last time with more on the line than was expected.
Nevada's double-overtime victory in Boise has given the Bulldogs one last opportunity to seize a coveted first-round bye in the Mountain West tournament. At the moment, Fresno is looking up at both the Wolf Pack and the Broncos in the standings and must keep their fingers crossed that Colorado State can spring an upset upon Wyoming. There are a lot of moving parts, but fortune just might smile upon the 'Dogs if they put a quality performance and catch some breaks before they head to the desert.
As for San Jose State, a win won't change their immediate destiny. They're locked into a date with whichever team winds up in sixth place, but an upset in the finale would be a satisfying bit of revenge for a blowout loss in Fresno last month and ensure they don't see the Bulldogs again.
What to Watch - Fresno State: San Diego State's second win against the 'Dogs last week came courtesy of a shooting percentage that is virtually unparalleled in Mountain West history, a development that is unlikely to repeat itself even if the Bulldogs muster just an average defensive effort.
Look for the 'Dogs to try and rediscover their three-point stroke, as well. The team lives and dies behind the arc more than any team in the conference, and they would like to be closer to the 39% they averaged in their 7-1 stretch than the 4-of-12 they managed against SDSU.
What to Watch - San Jose State: Speaking of teams that are reliant on the three-pointer, the Spartans still lead the conference in such attempts but still aren't terribly efficient at it. They shot nearly 50 percent in the loss to Colorado State, but allowed the Rams a similar overall field goal percentage. Their best chance at winning will depend on a stellar defensive effort: Previous close losses against CSU, New Mexico, Air Force and Wyoming are all marked by 40 percent shooting or worse by those opponents.
In addition, Jaleel Williams has played well in the last two weeks, averaging 14.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in his last four games. Perhaps not coincidentally, Williams had a similarly fruitful stretch in January that includes the aforementioned losses to UNM and CSU. He was quiet in the first matchup in Fresno, so look for him to get involved early.