There’s been debate on who the top dog in the conference is, so let’s talk about it.
Here are the early season resumes for the top two in the MW conference.
Recently, there’s been a lot of debate between which team between Boise State & San Diego State, the resounding top two in the conference, have a better resume to this point just over one month into the season. Neither is ranked, although SDSU was nearly ranked, and Boise State has received two votes in the AP Poll. Now let’s talk resumes.
*Side note, as of now, the NET rankings, the top tool to the NCAA selection committee uses to select teams into the NCAA Tournament, so I’ll be using KenPom.com’s rankings for this exercise.
How the quadrants are structured per NCAA.com
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
San Diego State (6-1)
The Aztecs have the 53rd ranked Strength of Schedule on KenPom and defeated UCLA by fifteen points in the season’s opening game. It’s worth noting that UCLA was missing two starters with Johnny Juzang and Jalen Hill, but it was pure domination against a ranked team. That win will be between quadrant one and two, but super fringe one, so it’s easier to call it a quadrant two victory.
Two more home wins against UC Irvine, the top team in the Big West, a game SDSU won by 20, and that will be a quadrant three victory. SDSU then defeated Pepperdine, which at the time was seen as a tough game, and they only won by five after being down a considerable amount at the half. Pepperdine has since faltered, losing four straight games, including three home games. Had SDSU lost, that could have been a detrimental loss, but Brian Dutcher pulled off the victory. That will also slot in as a Q3 victory more than likely.
Between this game and the next is a win over Saint Katherine, but that doesn’t count towards any kind of metric as they’re a non D1 team.
— Mountain West Wire (@MWCwire) December 28, 2020
Then as five-point underdogs, San Diego State went to Tempe, Arizona, to dominate an Arizona State team with the Pac-12 preseason POTY, Remy Martin, and star Freshman Joshua Christopher. Still, another star freshman Marcus Bagley missed the game. SDSU won by 12, and Nathan Mensah had a career night to grab a huge win. Now, people take some credit for that win away for ASU’s recent loss to UTEP, but to win against at the time a ranked team on the road is grueling.
Arizona State, when it’s all set and done, ASU will likely be a tournament team and a contender in the PAC-12, and when evaluating SDSU’s resume in March, that win will go a LONG way to securing an At-Large bid, or a good seed.
Now here’s the lone loss, a home loss to BYU. The Cougs led the game by 15 at the half, then Matt Mitchell was on fire in the 2nd half bringing the game to be tied, but SDSU ended up losing by ten. This will be a borderline Q2/Q3 loss, so not detrimental, but one thing that’s been discussed is that this is the only mutual opponent between the two teams, SDSU and Boise State.
We’ll get more into the Boise side in a moment, but Boise State did beat BYU in Provo, but when comparing resumes, comparing common opponents, especially in the non-conference play, doesn’t do a whole lot. The entire body of work matters, and for example, last season, Evansville defeated Kentucky, then proceeded to go winless in MVC play. That didn’t mean Illinois State was better than Kentucky since Illinois State defeated Evansville, and Kentucky failed to do that.
San Diego State has also picked up a 25 point victory on a neutral site against St Mary’s, the second best team in the WCC will net SDSU a Quadrant Two victory more than likely.
FINAL PREDICTIVE QUADRANT TALLY
Quadrant 1: 1-0 (ARIZST)
Quadrant 2: 2-0 (UCLA, SMC)
Quadrant 3: 2-1 (W/PEPP, UCI) (L/BYU)
Quadrant 4: 0-0
Solid resume to date, and it has to be intriguing to the selection committee.
Boise State (6-1)
Boise State has a significantly worse strength of schedule, at 214th according to KenPom this season.
In the opening game of the season, Leon Rice’s team lost to an elite Houston team that was previously undefeated, but they recently lost to Tulsa on the road. It’s still a “Good Loss” if that exists because Houston will likely still be a top 10 team and a high seed in the tournament. The Broncos only lost by ten on a neutral site, and that’s something many teams in the country would do against that Houston team.
The first win of the season came against a well below-average Sam Houston State team on a neutral site, and that’ll slot in as a Q4 game. There’s not much of a way for Sam Houston State to improve on their status unless they can beat Abilene Christian or Stephen F. Austin multiple times in Southland play.
The 2nd win came against the NAIA team, College of Idaho, and as they aren’t a D1 team, it doesn’t count towards anything other than the overall record.
The big-ticket win for Boise State is the win in Provo against BYU, but while it’s a nice win, BYU needs to not lose to any teams not named Gonzaga, SMC, or San Francisco teams in WCC play, or they can fall outside of the top-75
Then three quadrant four victories over Weber State, and then two blowout wins over New Mexico to open up conference play.
PREDICTIVE QUADRANT TALLY
QUADRANT 1: 1-1 (W/BYU, L/HOUSTON)
QUADRANT 2: 0-0
QUADRANT 3: 0-0
QUADRANT 4: 4-0 (W/ WEBER ST, SHSU, UNM twice)
San Diego State at the moment is the significantly better team, and the resume and numbers show that. While Boise State is a talented team, they have to hope to beat SDSU both times or have an adamant time getting an at-large bid due to the weak competition.
With the lack of opportunities to pick up big wins in a struggling MW conference, San Diego State has done a far better job sharpening up their resume for March.
The two will eventually get to settle this on the court but that will not happen until Feb. 25 and 27th in the final regular-season games of the season.