We are nearing the halfway point through the 2022-23 Mountain West men’s basketball slate! The Mountain West has still firmly been a top-7 conference, per Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, as well as the NET Rankings. Two teams are firmly in contention for potential at-large bids, two more resort more towards the bubble while one final team looks be on the outside-looking-in as we’re nearing the end of January.
Let’s dive into this week’s bracketology list!
Boise State 16-5 (6-2)
Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: 10-seed
Bracket Matrix Tracker (out of 80, as of Jan. 25): 75
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 9.15
Skinny: After their crushing overtime loss to New Mexico last week, the Broncos bounced back with a 10-point home victory over Fresno State on Tuesday. Boise State’s got two Quad 3 games against Colorado State (on Saturday) and Air Force (on Tuesday) before another Quad 1 test, this time against San Diego State. Utah Valley moving up to No. 73 in the power rankings secured another Quad 2 victory, moving them to 8-4 in Quad 1-2 games. Even though they’re still a 10-seed in Lunardi’s latest projection, their eight Quad 1-2 wins gives them one of the conference’s best resumes and puts them in good position to earn an at-large bid, should they continue to handle business against inferior opponents.
New Mexico 18-3 (5-3)
Bracket Matrix: 80
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 7.89
Skinny: Even with Monday’s Quad 1 loss to Nevada, the Lobos are still in the NCAA Tournament Hunt, currently as a nine-seed against North Carolina in Lunardi’s latest bracket. They’re fortunate that all three of their losses have come in Mountain West play, but their non-conference looks less appealing by the day, and over half of their losses have come at the hands of UNLV and Fresno State — who have both struggled this year. They’re still 5-1 in Quad 1-2 games, and if they can continue to build off that, they’ll remain in the hunt.
Nevada 16-5 (6-2)
Lunardi: First Four Out
Bracket Matrix: 50
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.78
Skinny: The Wolf Pack moved to 10-0 Monday with their double-overtime victory over New Mexico, which might’ve had a controversial ending with a questionable flagrant called against Morris Udeze. Nevertheless, the Wolf Pack closed it out, earning their first win over a top-25 opponent in nearly two decades. Their win over New Mexico was their second Quad 1 win of the season, moving to 5-5 in Quad 1-2 games. They’ll have a pair of chances to improve that record against UNLV on Saturday plus a rematch against San Diego State on Tuesday. They’re currently in Lunardi’s first-four out, so they’re not terribly far off. But the one thing missing from their resume is a statement win away from Lawlor.
San Diego State 16-3 (7-1)
Bracket Matrix: 80
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 6.75
Skinny: San Diego State has won nine of their last 10 — with one blemish against New Mexico, their only loss of MW play so far — and sit firmly in contention for another at-large bid. They secured another Quad 2 victory on Wednesday, courtesy of Adam Seiko lighting the nylon on fire with seven 3s and 25 points — both career highs. All four of their losses have been against Quad 1 opponents, and they’ll have three more Quad 1 matchups lined up against Nevada, Boise State and Utah State over the next two weeks.
Utah State 16-5 (5-3)
Bracket Matrix: 16
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 11.25
Skinny: Utah State has scuffled mightily of late, having gone 3-3 over their last six games, including a 10-point loss to San Diego State after beating UNLV and SJSU by a combined five points. They’re still the best 3-point shooting team in America, but their defense has slipped up — take Wednesday for example. They surrendered a season-most 133.6 points per 100 possessions, as its 85 points allowed tied for the second-most allowed all season. In MW play, they’re defensive rating is No. 7 out of 11 (108.6) and are allowing teams to shoot 42.0 percent from 3-point range. To climb back into the bubble, that has to be corrected.