It is officially March. Cue the CBS Sports theme music and pull up the Jon Rothstein tweets because the tournament is right around the corner.
But before we fill out our brackets, we still need to finish the regular season and play the conference tournaments. Monday night was a big night for the Mountain West in its quest to get possibly four teams into the NCAA Tournament, but there are still seeding races to be determined and teams are looking to get things right for the conference tournament. Here are the final rankings of the regular season:
1) Boise State
The Broncos are on a four-game winning streak and appear to enter Las Vegas next week as the number one seed for the conference tournament. Boise State can clinch the number one seed this weekend with a win tonight against Nevada. There will not be a Boise State collapse at the end of the season as they are playing like the best team in the conference as the season ends. The Broncos play the Rams in the last weekend of the season, it would be a nice resume booster, but it would not hurt the Broncos if they were to fall.
2) San Diego State
San Diego State picked up one of its biggest wins of the season, which will put them on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. A 73-66 win over the Wyoming Cowboys was a performance that the Aztecs needed as the conference tournament begins next week. It was refreshing to see Matt Bradley have a career night with 30 points to lead San Diego State. It will take Bradley and all of San Diego State’s top players to perform well if they want to win the conference tournament, which is a reality.
The Cowboys are still one of the top teams in the Mountain West, despite losing three of its last five, including games to Colorado State and San Diego State Monday night. Wyoming is very top-heavy with Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado, but they will need the others to contribute if they struggle, as they did against San Diego State. Xavier DuSell, Drake Jeffries, and Jeremiah Oden will be essential if Wyoming is to win a Mountain West championship.
4) Colorado State
The Rams still have an outside shot of winning the conference regular-season championship. They will need Boise State to lose out, which included a March 5 matchup in Fort Collins. Colorado State is finding its groove as conference tournament play approaches, after getting big wins against Wyoming and Utah State. The Rams offense will need to be firing on all cylinders, and they will need to stay focused on defense as they might have one of the toughest roads to a conference championship if they are the three seed.
The Runnin’ Rebels gave first-place Boise State a run last Saturday night but came up just a bit short in their bid to try and win four in a row. It looks like the Runnin’ Rebels are establishing themselves as a possible bid stealer given how close they played Boise State this season and their wins against Colorado State. Their game Wednesday night against Wyoming will be another test to see if UNLV is still a legitimate bid-stealer and carry momentum into the Mountain West tournament.
6) Utah State
The Aggies have slipped down the stretch, losing five of their last six games and sliding down the standings. While Utah State has been struggling of late, you cannot count them out as either a bid-stealer or a team that can make a deep run in the Mountain West tournament. And possibly end the tournament early for one of the top four teams.
7) Fresno State
The Bulldogs have won their last two games, after losing four in a row against some of the top teams in the Mountain West. They escaped New Mexico with a 71-68 win Monday night, a game they needed if they wanted to get a five or six seed since they close out the season at San Diego State and at Wyoming.
Nevada has a brutal end to its regular-season schedule. They were swept by their in-state rival, UNLV, for the first time since 2012-13 and were defeated by Wyoming in a 74-61 contest. The Wolf Pack end their season with a road game at Boise State, who can clinch the one seed, Tuesday night, and a home game against San Diego State, who looks to be getting hot at the right time. After a season with a lot of expectations, expect to find the Wolf Pack playing in the eight-nine game in the Mountain West tournament next week.
9) New Mexico
The Lobos got a much-needed win at home against Air Force, it wasn’t easy, but New Mexico will take any wins they can get as the season ends. They suffered a close loss Monday night to Fresno State, which could have been a good morale booster. Instead, they will have almost five full days before they host UNLV at the end of the regular season.
10) San Jose State
After picking up its first conference win, San Jose State fell by 25 points to San Diego State. Still, the Spartans picked up their first conference win last week are might be able to pick up one more before the season ends.
11) Air Force
Tonight should be a fun matchup with San Jose State and Air Force playing. The winner will likely be the 10 spot in the power rankings. While it will not have any bearing on the season or conference tournament, a win would end a nine-game losing streak for the Falcons.