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Mountain West Basketball Bracketology: January 27

Five teams make the cut again this week, even though with one team clearly on the outside-looking-in.

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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)

NET: 22

KenPom: 27

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)

NET: 29

KenPom: 43

Lunardi: 9-seed

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)

NET: 34

KenPom: 49

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.

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at San Diego State
Utah State Aggies guard Steven Ashworth (3) dribbles the ball while defended by San Diego State Aztecs guard Lamont Butler (5).
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State 16-3 (7-1)

NET: 24

KenPom: 26

Lunardi: 7-seed

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)

NET: 36

KenPom: 51

Lunardi: ————

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.