The Mountain West will definitely send one team to NCAA Tournament. The Conference Tournament champs, Fresno State Bulldogs punched their ticket to the big dance by defeating the San Diego State Aztecs. Led by Marvelle Harris, the Bulldogs beat favorited San Diego State and earned their first NCAA Tournament since 2001, and their first in the Mountain West.
Last night’s San Diego State loss crowds the bubble conversation. But according to the Bracket Matrix, the loss only bumps down their seeding, and not out onto the bubble. If both teams end up in the big dance by the end of the night, Fresno State might be in over their heads with an unlucky draw, and San Diego State might end up on a plane to Dayton for the play-in games.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Average seed: 13.05
Ceiling seed: 11
Floor seed: 14
Potential opponents (4-seed): Kentucky, Texas A&M, Purdue, Maryland
It’s interesting here to see who the Bulldogs draw. Bracket Matrix has Fresno in the area of a 13, which is certainly a tough draw. That means a possible Kentucky-Fresno State matchup, but with a crowded bubble there's name brand teams like Michigan and Syracuse joining the dance the Bulldogs' 13-seed could be pushed back to a 14-seed. Which of course draws more challenges like 3-seeds Xavier, Miami (FL), Utah, and Indiana. Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Dogs as a 14-seed against 3-seeded Utah. The Bulldogs earned the first appearance, but they also have a tough draw regardless.
San Diego State Aztecs
Average Seed: 10.6
Potential opponents (6-seed): Baylor, Texas, Seton Hall, Notre Dame.
Play-in game (11-seeds): Gonzaga, St. Bonaventure, St. Mary’s, Temple, Little Rock
At the worst, the Aztecs play in Dayton in the dreaded play-in games. I would like to think the Aztecs would like to get another shot at Little Rock on a neutral floor, but if they do play in Dayton they might match up against one of the West Coast Conference opponents. Regardless, the 6-seeds prove that the Big 12 were absolute monster conference. A 2011 rematch of Baylor-San Diego State looks enticing on paper, but tough nonetheless. I don't believe the ceiling of a 10-seed, I think 11 is more appropriate.The Aztecs will sweat out Selection Sunday, and if they get a call it will be a challenging opponent.
However, Jerry Palm of CBS has them as the first four out, so at the absolute worst the Aztecs play in the NIT.
The lone shoe-in for the 2016 NCAA Tournament for the Mountain West Conference represents a down-year for the conference in basketball. Former entrants Boise State, Colorado State, UNLV and UNM have been removed from the conversation completely due to a horrible showing. San Diego State remains in the bubble conversation, but their fate is in the hands of the selection committee.