The Mountain West Conference men's basketball teams begin Wednesday night with four teams ranked in the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 (the San Diego St. Aztecs, UNLV Runnin' Rebels and New Mexico Lobos in AP, and SDSU, UNLV and the Wyoming Cowboys in the Coaches poll).
Here at MW Connection we've been searching the interwebs and compiling the various pre-conference/mid-season reports filed by the MWC media... so here we go.
Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Union-Tribune starts the round up off with a story titled "Mountain West looks tougher than ever as league play begins." In his report, Ziegler has an exhaustive look at the MWC, running down records, key players, best wins and worst losses. Not surprisingly, Ziegler has his hometown SDSU team a top his rankings. But he spreads the love around:
The Mountain West has steadily improved since its inception in 1999, but no one has quite seen anything like this. Three teams — San Diego State (16), UNLV (24) and New Mexico (25) — are ranked in the Associated Press poll. Six have RPIs of 42 (out of 347 Division I teams) or higher. Six have non-conference records of 12-2 or better. Only one of the nine teams has a losing record...
Conference play begins Wednesday (SDSU opens at Fresno State). The prevailing sentiment: good luck.
Geoff Grammar over at the Albuquerque Journal also has done his homework to come up with his story from Sunday titled "Showing Its Muscle."
Grammar breaks down his breakdowns into the "key number," "What's gone right," and "What needs work." and is very thorough and exacting in his assessments.
The Mountain West Conference, not considered one of the elite football leagues, more than made its case as one on the basketball court, spending the first two months of the 2012-13 season making a case for being worthy of getting five teams into the NCAA Tournament. It’s never had more than four teams make it previously.
He also compares his preseason picks to mid-season and does "resets" - he picked SDSU preseason to win the league title and now resets that pick to UNLV. Grammar is a believer in the Boise St. Broncos, who he rest to fourth place from preseason eighth. He also is not on the Wyoming Cowboys bandwagon - he had them sixth preseason and sixth at midseason.
Yes. Despite their being 13-0. Tough audience.
Finally for Part 1, WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi ranks the MWC from 1-9, eschewing a big preamble and even deep thoughts and analysis of each team. It should be no surprised that Gagliardi is as impressed with his home team Wyoming as some media are not - he has them ranked third in the MWC. SDSU and UNLV land at 1 and 2 on his ranking. The Fresno St. Bulldogs land at ninth.