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Mountain West Basketball Bracketology: March 3

Four teams make the cut this week!

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

With one weekend to go in the regular season, four teams make the final cut in this week’s Bracketology discussion for the at-large candidates. After a long ride with Boise State, we unfortunately had to drop them off at their destination after they fell below .500 in MW play. Their high-tempo attack with Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn give them a puncher’s chance, but they’ll have to win the MW Tournament to have much of a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, barring something unforeseen.

Regardless, let’s jump into this week’s discussion!

Boise State:

NET: 27

KenPom: 25

Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: 10-seed

Bracket Matrix Tracker (out of 82, as of March 2): All 82

Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 9.84

Are they in position to be an at-large team right now?

Yes. Boise’s in a similar position Nevada’s in now — albeit a safer position: A big next eight days would be huge for its final say.

Tuesday’s comeback win over San Diego State was massive, giving Boise its third Quad 1 win of the season, one away from Nevada and SDSU for the most in the MW; a win against USU on Saturday would secure another Q1 win, plus Nevada moving up four slots over the next several days could reward them yet another.

Beating Utah State Saturday would secure the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and be big for their NCAA Tournament odds, as well as earning at least one victory in next week’s tournament. Leon Rice has an experienced squad with multiple scoring threats — though not off the bench — so it’s going to be fascinating to see how this all plays out for the Broncos in the coming weeks.

But they’re in right now.


NET: 32

KenPom: 40

Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: Last Four In

Bracket Matrix Tracker: 82

Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10.38

Are they in position to be an at-large team right now?

Yes, on the fringes. They’re going to need to have a big next eight days in order to safely lock its odds.

Nevada is currently last amongst these four teams in NET and KenPom at No. 32 and No. 40, respectively, which is still good positioning. But Monday’s loss to Wyoming was tough; regardless of whatever Wyoming’s NET Ranking (175) is relative to the remainder of the country’s last-place team, losing a road game (Q3) to the worst team in the conference is a tough sell regardless, especially since the Wolf Pack had a pretty clean resume and were already on the bubble to begin with.

Nevada would still be amongst the last four in (most likely) if the season ended today, but they’re going to need to beat UNLV on Saturday and win at least one tournament game next week to lock its chances as an NCAA Tourney nominee, as well as its seeding. A championship berth — let alone winning the MW Title — would be a huge boost as well.

San Diego State:

NET: 17

KenPom: 16

Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: 6-seed

Bracket Matrix Tracker: 82

Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 5.05

Are they in position to be an at-large team right now?

Yes. They’re a lock. Now, they’re playing for seeding.

In most projections, SDSU is hovering at around a five seed. Their next two games will be against the bottom-four teams in the Mountain West, which doesn’t really boost their resume.

Assuming the Aztecs advance to the conference semifinals and knocks off one of New Mexico/Utah State/Nevada (assuming they make it too; we’ll know more about the seeding/matchups by Sunday), they might be able to lock up that No. 5 seed (at minimum), but they’re going to need help across the country — like most do. Though winning the tourney championship certainly improves its odds, too.

Utah State:

NET: 22

KenPom: 26

Joe Lunardi’s Bracket: First Four Out

Bracket Matrix Tracker: 9

Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 11.0

Are they in position to be an at-large team right now?

You could make the argument for Utah State.

Their 25-point road win over UNLV Wednesday — plus Loyola Marymount leapfrogging its way into the top-100 in the NET — gives the Aggies eight Quad 2 wins this season and moved them up eight (8!) spots in the NET on Thursday. USU is now top-25 in the NET and a top-4 team in one of the deepest conferences in the country — that amounts to something, no?

But the Aggies are one of two teams in the top-50 of the NET — the other being Liberty (40) — without a Quad 1 win heading into the final weekend of the regular season, which plays a factor. Though they have a chance to earn one Saturday against Boise State at home — and could earn a chance depending on how far they advance in the MW Tournament.

Utah State, like Nevada, is on the fringes — though if they make 3s, they have a chance against anyone.