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||1-13||7-19||4-7||3-10|
Everything's been thrown for a loop in the Mountain West Conference, with just a couple more weeks of play. Long-time frontrunner San Diego State has looked shaky of late, and that all came to a head in a blowout loss at New Mexico on Saturday night. After looking well out of the running for anything special themselves, Boise State and Wyoming have also come on strong to try and seize a winning record in league play. Additionally, Fresno State, once at the bottom of the table, now sits just outside of third place. But the story is now New Mexico. It's their title to lose, and should they defeat SDSU two Saturdays from now, that should be enough (provided they don't lose any more games, of course).
This week's big matchups:
Tuesday, Feb. 25 -- San Jose State at San Diego State: San Jose State's stepped up its defensive intensity of late and after picking up a huge road win at Nevada, they suddenly look a whole lot more dangerous. There's still a talent gap between the Spartans and San Diego State, but on the road again, SJSU is capable of testing the Aztecs. SDSU, on the other hand, is looking to bounce back from an absolutely miserable showing in Albuquerque, NM, and desperately need to get the offense back on track. This is not so much a "bounce-back game" as it is a must-win. San Diego State's scored less than 70 points in six of their last seven games. That's just not going to cut it if they want to win the conference.
Wednesday, Feb. 26 -- Boise State at Fresno State: Boise State's won three straight and while they're out of the NCAA at-large discussion, they can still position themselves for a run by securing a high seed in the league tournament. Right now, they're lined up as a three-seed, with just one truly impressive victory (vs. UNM) on the resume. Hanging onto that high seed could potentially get them one more matchup with SDSU and New Mexico, respectively, both of which they'd likely have to beat in order to secure the league title and an auto-bid.
Saturday, Mar. 1 -- Boise State at Wyoming: More Boise State. As mentioned above, they're in a precarious position, bunched up with several other squads on the three-seed line -- one of which being Wyoming. Since upsetting San Diego State two weeks back, the Cowboys have come back down to earth a bit (especially after losing Larry Nance to injury), but still have plenty to play for. Beating the Broncos at home is the toughest remaining regular season test, so beating them gives Wyoming the inside track at that higher seed.
Saturday, Mar. 1 -- San Diego State at Fresno State: Again, San Diego State doesn't just need to bounce back. These are all must-win games now, in order to set up a defacto playoff game with New Mexico to end the year. The Aztecs have to crush Fresno State in order to silence the recent criticisms about lackluster play, but that won't be easy against a Bulldogs team that plays very well at home and has won five of six overall. Fresno has tough slate to end the year (Boise, SDSU, at SJSU), but sweeping the group would give them a winning record in league play, miraculously, despite the 1-7 start.
Sunday, Mar. 2: New Mexico at Nevada: New Mexico ends the year with two of four on the road, and those two (SDSU, Nevada) are also their toughest remaining opponents. The Wolf Pack look miserable of late, dropping five of six, and now must win out just to secure a non-losing record on the year. It's a fact that won't be lost on Nevada, especially with an opportunity to play spoiler to the Lobos' league title hopes as well. While they have a tiebreaker cushion with SDSU right now and can lose one more game before the season finale, I'm sure they'd prefer to leave nothing to question. They're steadily rising in projected NCAA seeding too (a 7-seed right now, according to ESPN), so every win's critical to that continued upward motion.
So what do you think? Are we on a collision course for a San Diego State-New Mexico "regular season championship game" in two Saturdays? And can Boise State or Wyoming find a way to position themselves for an upset or two in the MWC Tournament? Share your thoughts below.