The roundtable is back for another off-season! From April through August, we will bring you a new question with thoughts from our team every Friday. This week’s question will focus on the Mountain West basketball season: Considering the fantastic showing in the out-of-conference schedule, the gauntlet that was conference place, having six teams win 20+ games, sending four teams to the NCAA Tournament, and seeing San Diego State make a historic run to the championship game, what grade would you give the Mountain West men’s basketball season this year?
Mike: Last year the Mountain West had a tremendous regular season, sent four teams to the NCAA tournament and went 0-4. I wanted to give them an A but settled on a B+ due to their terrible tournament showing. This year, the conference was arguably even better as a whole, with so many great teams and such a large chunk of the conference sitting in the top 100 of the NET rankings. Once again, they sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament, and while three teams were one-and-done, San Diego State not only ended the tournament losing streak, but wound up in the championship game. This year, the conference gets an A.
Zach: The Aztecs accomplished arguable the greatest feat in the history of the conference by making it to the national championship game. The run secured a lot of money for the conference, and showed why the Mountain West was deserving of the hype. However, the performances by Boise State, Utah State, and Nevada were a little on the disappointing side. Getting four teams in the tournament is a huge accomplishment, but 1-3 in the opening round keeps the conference from getting an A, I am going to go with an A-.
Jeremy: I’m giving the conference an A-grade. I was concerned coming into the season that the goose egg (0-4 in the 2022 NCAA Tournament) would hurt the perception of the league. It wasn’t for the selection committee, which is what matters, but MWC hoops was taking a beating on social media all winter. To send four conference reps again and have the Aztecs make the Final Four is enormous. I don’t mind the Boise State, Nevada, and Utah State early exits. Which would you prefer: the MWC go 4-4 in the first round, each notching a victory, but only one team manages to make the Sweet Sixteen or the conference goes 1-4 on Thursday/Friday but the one makes the national championship? Easy answer. Considering football hasn’t sent a team to a major bowl game since 2014, let alone threatened the top of college football, I think this might be the best outcome the conference may ever see.
Jeff: The season was a wonderful range of emotions that both delighted and frustrated fans. Of course there is the Aztecs run which will live forever in conference lore. This I believe will be the overarching story of the year. Having six teams winning 20 or more games, all against the backdrop of previous conference futility, helped to develop a story that may have longer lasting results. The Aztec run helped to put the conference on the map, but with the Aztecs impending departure, it could put some damper on that success. Conference depth will help provide some short term respect, especially previous doormat San Jose State showing they may have some positive direction. All said and done, this is an A- for the league.