Nearly a month into Mountain West play, the conference — with as much parity and unpredictability as ever — still remains the 5th-best conference in the country, according to NET rankings. Five teams sit inside the top-35 in the NET Rankings with the rest outside of the top-75. While we’re still a long way out from determining what the final numbers will be, all we can do is go off the sample provided to us! Let’s dive into this week’s bracketology rankings, shall we?
Boise State 15-4 (5-1)
Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: 11-seed
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 9.5
Skinny: Boise State still sits atop the conference in NET, moving up to No. 19 in the country. They also have a Mountain West-most seven Quad 1 and 2 wins — though all have come within the Quad 2 category. Its most recent came in a 15-point home thrashing of Nevada on Tuesday, extending its win streak to five straight; three of those wins, in fact, have come against Quad 2 foes, the other two being against UNLV (by 18 points) and Utah State (by 23 points). They’ll be tested on Friday with a road bout against New Mexico before the schedule softens for the following three games. But you can’t take a night off in this conference, and I don’t see Boise doing that, as Leon Rice’s squad has seemed to have hit their stride yet again.
New Mexico 17-2 (4-2)
Bracket Matrix: 72
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 8.96
Skinny: New Mexico sits firmly as an 8-9 seed in most projections, which certainly helped after their nine-point road win over the Aztecs and its 20-point win over the Spartans. They’ve won their last three games and are now an unbeaten 4-0 in Quad 1-2 games. Though Boise State, Nevada (twice) and Utah State make up four of their next five games, three of which are Quad 1 games (two of them on road). If they can win 2-3 of those games, they’ll be in a good spot as the second-half of conference play approaches.
Nevada 15-5 (5-2)
Lunardi: Last four out
Bracket Matrix: 39
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.82
Skinny: After the Wolf Pack used a late 19-0 run to down Utah State, it slipped up on the road against Boise State on Tuesday, losing 77-62. They’re still firmly on the bubble and are an even 5-5 in Quad 1-2 games. They still have New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State — who they lost to by nine on Jan. 10 — over their next three games, which are all Quad 1-2 games. If they can escape with at least two victories, they should still within the top-5 in the conference and potentially out of “last four in” territory for the time being. But that’ll be much easier said than done.
San Diego State 14-4 (5-1)
Bracket Matrix: 73
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 6.74
Skinny: San Diego State narrowly escaped Fort Collins with an 82-76 overtime win over Colorado State on Wednesday, their third Quad 2 victory of the season — all of which have come within their last six games. The Aztecs are still projected to be a 6-8 seed in most brackets and are the clear favorite for an at-large bid. But they still need to take care of business against inferior foes, like Air Force, Utah State and San Jose State — which will make up their next three games.
Utah State 15-4 (4-2)
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.89
Skinny: Utah State has slipped a little, having gone just 2-2 over their last four games with two blowout losses to Nevada and Boise State. The Aggies aren’t completely out of the realm, sitting firmly in the bubble, but will have San Jose State on Saturday followed by a trip to Viejas to take on the Aztecs on Jan. 25. They have to avoid many more bad losses to stay in said bubble — given their other two losses came to Quad 4 opponents earlier in the season (SMU, Weber State).