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New Mexico Basketball: Can the Lobos be considered the best team in Mountain West?

After a heartbreaking loss to Rival San Diego State can the Lobos be considered the best team in the conference?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Conventional wisdom would say that the undefeated San Diego Aztecs are the best team in the Mountain West Conference, but a win-loss record does not always tell the story of a team. The New Mexico Lobos who have had ups and downs this year but over the last two weeks of the season the team has been firing on all cylinders with impressive wins at Bois State and in Albuquerque against a talented UNLV team.

So try and put aside New Mexico's record and ignore the previous inconstancy of the early season and look at this Lobos team and the way its constructed.They have shown that they can hang with and beat any team in the conference. They are 12.5 seconds and a bad call away from a potential victory over the Aztecs.They are a team that leads the conference in almost every offensive category and boast a stout defense that boast one of the best three point shooting percentage defense in the league.

Yes, it is recognized that San Diego State is a very good team and has the best record in the conference with no losses. The Aztecs have had plenty of close wins to make the point that they are vulnerable if an opponent is particularly on their game.

New Mexico is young as they start three sophomores and two juniors with their top four players coming off the bench being three freshman and a sophomore. Then include that the best three players did not play for the Lobos last year. Sophomore Elijah Brown who has established himself as one of the elite scoring guards out West had an off shooting night on Saturday, but he still managed to score 23 points and make a clutch three-point shot to but the Lobos up five with less than a minute to play in the game.

Tim Williams is a beast inside he has scored over 20 points in his last three games and showed against UNLV that he can carry the Lobos on his back if he needs to.

New Mexico is not as deep as the Aztecs but they have shown that they can match up with them for 40 minutes. They have shown they can beat Boise State and they dominated Fresno State as well as Nevada. The Lobos only bad loss in conference was against Wyoming and that's a game the Lobos win nine out of 10 times. So, if the Lobos have beat the three teams behind them and they are a ref's mistake away from potentially beating the team in front of them does this make the Lobos the best team in the MWC?

The answer is a big fat maybe.

The Lobos have the ability to be the best team in the conference, but bumps in the road have led many to leave them out of the conversation, but Saturday was a statement it showed the league that New Mexico is one of the best teams in the conference once again -- even with the loss -- like it has been over the better part of a decade.

The Aztecs now have a three game lead with seven left to play so they likely will not be caught, but If you're the Lobos you walk out of Viejas Arena on Saturday with the feeling that San Diego State is a team that you feel you can beat.

Saturday's loss may be heart breaking but it's not the end of the world for New Mexico but if the they want to get to the NCAA tournament they will potentially have to play the Aztecs two more times, once on March 1, 2016 in The PIt and then possibly again in the Mountain West tournament.

The two meeting in a potential championship game at the conference tournament would be the more important for the Lobos because of the four-straight losses in December the team's only option to make the NCAA Tournament would be to win an automatic bid.