Looking at the seeding currently.
Big games with implications on the standings last week.
Here’s what happened:
Welcome back! Another week, another look into what happened last week in the conference, seeding, and what’s next.
There’s going to be noticeable movement in the rankings this week.
Boise State dropped both games in Reno against Grant Sherfield‘s Nevada Wolf Pack. Those aren’t “Bad” losses, but you don’t want to get swept in any series to a non-NCAA Tournament team when you’re in a Mid-Major conference. We’ll discuss what those losses mean a bit later in this one.
Colorado State flirted with disaster when facing Wyoming in Laramie. The Rams are in a worse position than Boise, a point where CSU has zero wiggle room being firmly on the bubble. Colorado State narrowly won the first game by two, on a Kendle Moore buzzer-beater, following a Marcus Williams game-tying three. Game two went significantly better, with CSU winning by ten points.
Utah State Aggies (14-5, 11-2)
We finally have change at the top of the Mountain West standings following Boise’s disappointing week. USU held serve, defeating Fresno in one game, with the other game being booted due to COVID. Craig Smith‘s squad gets two games against Wyoming this week in Logan. Those should both result in wins, setting the stage for Feb 17 & 19 against Boise.
Colorado State Rams (14-4, 11-3)
Here we have another change in these standings, the CSU Rams moved into the 2nd spot, previously occupied by USU, who moved to one. Who doesn’t love movement? Like I mentioned earlier, this nearly didn’t happen unless Kendle Moore hits the game-winner in Laramie.
Funny enough, CSU & Boise are technically tied, but Niko Medved’s squad has a better win percentage, and one more conference win, also one more conference game. Is that confusing? Kind of, for sure, but for now, Colorado State ranks 2nd in the standings.
Boise State Broncos (14-4, 10-3)
Among the teams in the entire country, Boise may have had the most disappointing week. Two losses on the road to Nevada, one in heartbreaking fashion in a two-point loss, with Boise’s last-second shot literally going than bouncing back out. A loss doesn’t get more heartbreaking than that.
The Broncos cannot afford a loss this week when facing UNLV twice at home. That would put them in a disastrous spot in terms of getting an at-large bid.
The Broncos remain the most talented roster in the conference and still have the highest ceiling.
San Diego State (13-4, 7-3)
The Aztecs didn’t play last week after two dominating victories over Wyoming the prior weekend. The Aztecs do indeed have three conference losses; one was a 27 point blown lead to CSU, and the first loss to USU came in the game. Matt Mitchell was injured, and in the next game two days later, Mitchell remained out.
I wholeheartedly believe the Aztecs still are a top-two team in the conference with an extremely high ceiling.
In the upcoming series, SDSU hosts San Jose State, two must-win games. It would be detrimental to SDSU’s tourney hopes should they lose.
Nevada Wolf Pack (14-7, 9-5)
The Pack remain in the middle of the Pack in the conference standings but picked up two outstanding wins over Boise.
I’m trying to work it out in my head to see if there’s a real scenario where Nevada can get an at-large bid, and hear me out. Nevada’s final six games come against SJSU, CSU at home, and on the road against USU. If they win all four, making them 20-7, with two wins over Boise, two wins over CSU, and two Q1 wins over USU, along with a Q2 win in Lincoln against Nebraska. Is that good enough to notch that a tourney bid?
Unlikely, but not impossible. The losses at Wyoming and loss to Air Force are what make this a tougher task. Now, let’s say Nevada makes it to the title game of the MW tourney. If a team with a solidified spot in the Big Dance defeats them in the finals, I could see a path for Nevada being an at-large. Longshot for sure, but possible.
For now, Steve Alford‘s Pack will enjoy a five-day break before playing SJSU for a weekend series.
UNLV Runnin Rebels (7-9, 4-5)
At the #6 spot is where we begin to see a noticeable drop from the teams’ level. UNLV finishes off their series with Air Force on the day this goes up, which will likely be a win.
The Rebs do have a big win this season over USU, but UNLV shouldn’t be a real threat to the other top teams the rest of the day. They do get Boise this week; they could play spoiler once again.
Fresno State (7-7, 5-7)
The Bulldogs played only one game last week against USU with COVID issues. Justin Hutson’s squad could’ve tried to make the first place Aggies no longer be in the first place. Fresno does have a star, of course, with Orlando Robinson.
They get Air Force this week. Those should probably be two wins based on Air Force’s struggles since defeating Nevada two months ago.
Wyoming Cowboys (10-9, 4-8)
Wyoming’s offensive ability is fantastic. That will keep them competitive in games and has nearly knocked off a lot of teams. The Cowboys almost knocked off Colorado State, now will face Utah State twice this week.
Marcus Williams, Hunter Maldonado‘s scoring ability, with the shooting of Xavier DuSell, Kwane Marble, Drake Jeffries, Kenny Foster, is fun to watch. However, Wyoming’s defense leaves a ton to be desired.
Knocking off USU in either game puts the Aggies in a tough spot in terms of getting into the tournament. That’ll be one to monitor.
San Jose State Spartans (5-11, 3-9)
The Spartans are on a three-game winning streak with one over UNM and two over Air Force.
SJSU gets SDSU this week, but in reality, San Jose State shouldn’t be much of a threat based on how much they get blown out, and Rich Washington Jr may be out for this series once again.
Air Force Academy Falcons (4-13, 2-11)
The struggles continue in the first year of the 2nd stint of the Joe Scott Era. The only two wins AFA’s gotten has been over Nevada & Wyoming, but the rest have been absolute blowouts.
New Mexico Lobos (5-11, 1-11)
What an absolute disaster of a season it’s been for UNM. Losing multiple players to the portal already, many considering opting-out, led to cancelations of last week’s games and potentially the rest of the season. The team is losing; players are leaving, the program is in a bad spot. And will likely sit near the bottom of this ranking for quite a while.
UNM’s supposed to play Colorado State this week. We’ll see what happens.
CURRENT MATCHUPS IF THE MW TOURNEY STARTED TODAY:
BYE: (1) Utah State, (2) Colorado State (3) Boise State
(4) San Diego State Vs. (5) Nevada Wolf Pack
(8) Wyoming Cowboys Vs. (9) San Jose State Spartans
(7) Fresno State Bulldogs Vs. (10) Air Force Falcons
(6) UNLV Runnin Rebels Vs. (11) New Mexico Lobos
GAMES WITH MAJOR IMPLICATIONS THIS WEEK:
Utah State plays two games in Laramie against Wyoming. They want to keep first place, so they’ll have to win these games.
Boise State hosts UNLV. They need to get right following the losses to Nevada last week.