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2011 NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: Five Mountain West Teams Have A Shot

Now that football season is over it is time to move onto basketball season where conference play just recently got underway, and Selection Sunday is a mere eight weeks away and while it is still early in projecting who is in and how is out, SB Nation's own Chris Dobbertean who runs Blogging the Bracket and is our resident college basketball guru put together a very extensive bubble watch list. One good news is that he mentions that there are seven power conferences and the Mountain West makes the cut. I am not terrible surprised by that since the Pac-10 has no teams ranked at the moment.

Even at this early stage Dobbertean has one-third of the field already in lock status:

At the moment, I consider 21 teams locks. Six of them account for their conference's automatic bid, which means 15 at-larges are accounted for, and 22 are open. Among the 62 bubble teams, nine currently are in as conference leaders.

He does however mention that a team can go from lock status to out of the field, and refers to the 2009-2010 Texas Longhorns.

For the Mountain West he puts BYU, San Diego State and UNLV in lock status and had TCU, Utah, Air Force and Wyoming in the group that must win the  conference tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament.

That means Colorado State and New Mexico are considered bubble teams with a shot to make it to the tournament if they improve their status:

New Mexico Lobos (12-4; 1-1 MWC; RPI: 63: SOS: 147)
Like so many teams on this list, the Lobos are lacking quality wins. (Their profile, like so many others here, somewhat curiously includes games against Cal, Dayton and Northern Iowa; all losses.) New Mexico couldn't even get the Mountain West campaign off to a good start, losing on a buzzer beater at Wyoming on Saturday. With the Cowboys' RPI rank sitting at 278 right now, the setback is doubly devastating. (They finally won a league game against Colorado State Wednesday.) All hope is not lost, as over the next three Saturdays the Lobos face the Mountain West's three favorites, with two of those games taking place in the Pitt. This week: San Diego State (Sat.), at Utah (Wed.)

Colorado St. Rams (10-5; 1-1 MWC; RPI: 65: SOS: 65)
The Rams' picked up an early season tournament win in Cancun over Christmas week, but the weakness of the field means those three wins don't really help the team's case much. (Ole Miss and Southern Miss are bubble teams at best right now.) Making matters worse, Colorado State dropped a game against Hampton at another event in San Francisco over New Year's. So, like New Mexico, the Rams' best hope is to pull some upsets against the MWC's lead pack. A trip to UNLV Wednesday is Tim Miles' team's first shot. A sweep of the Lobos would have also been helpful, but that's an impossibility now that the Rams lost in Albuquerque. This week: TCU (Sat.), at UNLV (Wed.)

The Rams need to sweep the bottom four teams like they did last year and then beat New Mexico, at least split with UNLV and for good measure win the first round of the Mountain West conference tournament which could possibly be against UNLV on their home court.

New Mexico needs to right the the ship and get possibly two wins between BYU and San Diego State and possibly need to sweep UNLV. They have talent on that team but the loss of Ramon Martinez and Darrington Hobson may have been too much.

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