In just a month, we will have Mountain West basketball to talk about. Last week, we looked at some intriguing non-conference games. This week, it’s time to take a look at 10 must-watch conference games this season. Here is the list, in order of the date they will be played.
San Diego State at UNLV (Jan 1)
Kevin Kruger and the Runnin’ Rebels do not get an easy road into the conference schedule as they host San Diego State. UNLV ended San Diego State’s perfect season in 2020 but lost in the two team’s lone matchup last year. A national audience, on big CBS, will get to see where the Runnin’ Rebels are under their new coach and if the Aztecs are going to be the team to beat in the Mountain West once again.
Wyoming at Nevada (Jan. 4)
Two of the more shocking results last year were when Wyoming swept Nevada in their two-game series last year. The Cowboys were led by Marcus Williams, who has since transferred to Texas A&M, so we get a chance to see where Wyoming is after appearing to trend in the right direction last year, and the same for Nevada, who has big things expected for them this year.
Boise State at Utah State (Jan. 4)
The Broncos swept the Aggies in their two-game series last year. At that moment, it looked like Boise State was trending in the direction for an NCAA Tournament spot, while Utah State was going in the opposite direction, but it was the Aggies who ended up making the Tournament while the Broncos missed it. The first matchup between these two teams will tell us a lot about them and where they stand in the Mountain West.
Colorado State at Boise State (Jan. 7)
One of Colorado State’s four conference losses came to Boise State at home, with the Rams winning the first game of the series and the Broncos taking game two. What will be interesting in this matchup is what Boise State will look like, they lost some key players, including Derrick Alston, who graduated. And the Broncos will get a chance at home, against one of the conference favorites to see where they stand in the league and if they can contend for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Nevada at San Diego State (Jan. 8)
Despite San Diego State sweeping the series last year with Nevada, it was the two hardest wins of the Aztecs’ season. They narrowly escaped with a five-point win in the first game and a two-point victory two nights later. A lot of eyes are on the Wolf Pack this year to take a big step and compete for a conference championship and a win against the Aztecs could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Boise State at Nevada (Jan. 12)
Boise State lost both games to Nevada on the road last year and was a precursor for the Broncos’ struggles that came later in the month. The Broncos lost its last four games to end the regular season and conference tournament. The team they lost to in the conference tournament? Nevada. Boise State will look to redeem itself after going 0-3 to Nevada last year.
San Diego State at Utah State (Jan. 26)
The Aggies swept the Aztecs in the two-game series last year. Those wins were what likely stood out on Utah State’s resume and got them in the tournament as an at-large team. This is a much different Aggies team with new coach Ryan Odom and Neemias Queta, Rollie Worster, and Marco Anthony all leaving the program. An upset might be a tall task, but don’t count out the Aggies to create some early-season drama in conference play.
Nevada at UNLV (Feb. 1)
For a long time, the Runnin’ Rebels have dominated the series with its in-state rival, Nevada. UNLV proudly claimed basketball as its sport while the Wolf Pack dominated football. But Nevada has won the last seven matchups between UNLV, including a two-game sweep last year. On the first day of February, the Kevin Kruger-led Runnin’ Rebels will look to take back bragging rights against the Wolf Pack, as the best basketball program in the state.
Colorado State at Nevada (Feb. 8)
The Rams looked like they had a fairly good chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament, and then the Mountain West decided to add games at the end of the season, and Colorado State’s game at Nevada last year was one of them. Colorado State lost to Nevada 85-82 on a crazy last-second shot and severely impacted the Rams’ Tournament hopes. Last season’s game was a close one and this one should be too, and a fun one.
Colorado State at San Diego State (March 1)
Last year Colorado State overcame a 26-point deficit to upset the nationally-ranked San Diego State Aztecs 70-67. These two teams will meet about a month prior in Fort Collins, but this game late in the season could determine the conference championship. The Rams bring back nearly its entire team, while the Aztecs are reloaded with a lot of talent.