Within the last week, there’s some noticeable shake up in the top of the Mountain West. A shorthanded Boise State got crushed by San Diego State, Nevada continued to improve its resume with a buzzer-beating win over New Mexico capped by SDSU waltzed into Logan, Utah and earned a narrow two-point win!
I don’t want to spoil too much, so let’s dive into this week’s bracketology.
Boise State (18-6, 8-3)
Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: 11-seed
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 9.9
Skinny: Boise State has not played yet this week after an eight-day layover. They might need it too; they are beat up with Marcus Shaver and Naje Smith recovering from injuries. And they’ll need time to regroup after its 20-point drubbing against San Diego State, by far its worst loss to date in 2022-23. The Broncos have Wyoming at home on Saturday — and we don’t need to further elaborate what’s plaguing the ‘Pokes right now (Spoiler: It’s a lot.) They’re still in good position to secure an at-large bid, with seven Quad 1-2 games with the potential to net (no pun intended) another, depending on if Utah Valley can move up from 78 to 75 in the NET this weekend.
New Mexico (19-5, 6-5)
Bracket Matrix: 99
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 9.4
Skinny: New Mexico has now lost three of their last four — including two losses to Nevada — the latest being a heart-breaking 77-76 defeat on Tuesday. Their two losses to the Pack have come by a combined four points, both of which were winnable and had the Lobos leading at least once in the final minute of regulation. Nevertheless, New Mexico drops to 5-3 in Quad 1-2 games with four more opportunities presumably left in the season. Though their next two will be against Air Force and the very-beat-up Wyoming Cowboys.
Nevada (19-6, 9-3)
Bracket Matrix: 95
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.1
Skinny: Don’t look now, but Nevada’s climbing up the charts. It got their signature road win! Yes, the same one they’ve needed for weeks as a resume booster! The Wolf Pack now stand alone as the No. 2 team in the MW standings, thanks to a very fortunate shooter’s roll on Kenan Blackshear’s game-winning fadeaway jumper against New Mexico. The Pack have secured a conference-most eight Quad 1-2 victories so far with three Quad 1 wins against Boise State, San Diego State and now New Mexico. Steve Alford continues to do a brilliant job, but the Wolf Pack’s schedule will soften up for the remainder of the regular season with just one Quad 1-2 game against Utah State (Q1). They can’t afford any slip-ups.
San Diego State (19-5, 10-2)
Bracket Matrix: 99
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 6.3
Skinny: The Aztecs have now secured two consecutive Quad 1 victories, tying Nevada with three on the season. Its narrow road win against Utah State rewards them with four Quad 1-2 road wins, which is never something to balk at, at this point of the regular season. They will have three straight Quad three games with two additional Q1 affairs against New Mexico and Boise State — both on road — in the final weeks of the regular season. They’re in as good position as ever to secure an at-large bid, but will also prefer not to slip up (duh!) in over these next three games.
Utah State (19-6, 8-4)
Lunardi: Next Four Out
Bracket Matrix: 10
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.6
Skinny: Utah State’s still out of most bracketology projections, and justifiably so. It wasn’t able to capitalize on a prime Quad 1 opportunity on Wednesday, falling 63-61 at home against San Diego State. Emotions flew sky high between players, coaches and officials, three total players got ejected and things began out of sorts for Utah State, who trailed by 16 at halftime. They were able to battle back, but ultimately suffered their first home loss since Dec. 23 and their fourth Q1 loss of the season. They have four more Quad 1-2 games, beginning with San Jose State on Saturday in Northern Cal.