We are roughly a month away from the start of the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament! We are at the halfway point of conference play with a half-dozen teams making a chase for the big dance in March. Let’s go into this week’s bracketology update, shall we?
Lunardi: Last Four In
Bracket Matrix (As of Feb. 1): 74 (out of 84)
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 10
Skinny: After suffering a tough six-point overtime loss at home to Utah State on Saturday, Boise State went into one of the toughest environments in the Mountain West in “The Pit,” flustered a scorching hot New Mexico and secured an eight-point win. Homecourt advantage in the conference this year has been lopsided, thus making this one of the best victories for any team since MW play began. They have now moved into the top-45 in NET and have seven Quad 1-2 victories at the time of this publishing. This team is good and I don’t think Lunardi’s “Last Four In” placement is doing them enough justice, even though there are plenty of factors at stake.
Bracket Matrix: 84
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 7.4
Skinny: After two consecutive home road losses to Nevada and Wyoming, Colorado State returned to Fort Collins to secure their third Quad 1 victory of the season over San Jose State. Like Boise, they have seven combined Quad 1-2 victories, but their three-point loss to the Pokes introduced their first non-Quad 1 loss (Quad 3) of the season, which dropped them out of the top-30 in NET. They have lost four of their six true-road games and will have another this weekend against Fresno State, which they need to secure from a resume standpoint (you can’t have bad losses away from home on the dock).
Bracket Matrix: 10
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 11.3
Skinny: Nevada is losers of four of their last five and have fallen all the way to No. 65 in the NET. They’re on much thinner ice than they were heading into MW play, but I still believe they would get the tournament nod as a “last four in” squad if the season ended today. They will have a Quad 4 contest on Friday followed by three straight Quad 1 games against Utah State, San Diego State and New Mexico, respectively. That could help push them back into the fold if they can secure at least two wins over that stretch.
Bracket Matrix: 83
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 7.8
Skinny: After looking nearly unbeatable inside The Pit since MW play began, the Lobos suffered their first home loss Wednesday to Boise State. It snapped their five-game win streak and moved them to a combined 5-4 in Quad 1-2 games. The Lobos will now be tasked with traveling to Laramie to take on Wyoming, which hasn’t been an easy task for any MW foe this season, followed by a home bout against UNLV, whom it lost to on its home floor last year.
San Diego State
Bracket Matrix: 84
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 5.6
Skinny: San Diego State has alternated wins and losses over their last six games, most recently losing a hard-fought battle to Colorado State on Tuesday. It will have a chance to bounce back against Utah State Saturday before two more road games next week against Air Force and Nevada. They are still unbeaten in non-Quad 1 games, but are 2-5 in Quad 1 games, which could ding its potential seeding in the long term if that doesn’t see substantial improvement.
Bracket Matrix: 84
Average Bracket Matrix Seed: 5.7
Skinny: Utah State sits alone atop the Mountain West at 19-2, having won three straight over Fresno State, Boise State and San Jose State. There’s still meat on the bones against San Diego State, Nevada and Boise over their next three games—plus their second bouts against Colorado State (road) and SDSU (home) in less than three weeks. It will give them an opportunity to improve on its Quad 1 record, which currently sits at 1-2 with its lone win. CSU falling outside the top-30 in NET didn’t help, either. Regardless, they still sit in excellent shape for a tournament bid come March.