2021 Mountain West Tournament Seeding Update
Another week down. Let’s discuss.
Disaster nearly struck in Boise.
Another week down in everyone’s favorite in College Basketball, let’s talk about it.
The Boise State Broncos avoided a near-death blow on Devonaire Doutrive‘s game-winner against UNLV. That would’ve been a Q3, borderline Q4 loss, with the Broncos sitting around the nine/10-line in most brackets, that would’ve been devastating. For Mid-Major teams, losing a Q3/Q4 game when you’re already a borderline tournament team is something you cannot afford, and that Doutrive shot will go down in infamy if the Broncos make a run this season.
Utah State Aggies (14-5, 11-2)
Craig Smith‘s Aggies dealt with recent COVID issues, not allowing them to play last week. There’s an important series upcoming for USU, facing the number two squad in this conference in Boise State.
Boise State Broncos (16-4, 12-3)
As mentioned prior, UNLV nearly stunned Boise State. That Devonaire Doutrive basket was so important to the outcome of Boise’s season. Now, we enter a pivotal point in the end stretch of the regular season.
A few scenarios can go, and I think only one is ideal for MW to optimize their number of tournament bids. Boise ranks 38th in the NET right now, with USU coming in at 50th, making these Q2 games for Boise. Can Boise afford a Q2 loss? Yes. It’s not a Q3/4 loss; you can endure a loss with some wiggle room remaining. Things get tough if Boise loses both games. That would put them in a TIGHT spot. That’d make Boise 16-6, making it a tight squeeze to sneak in after the sweep in Reno.
Colorado State Rams (15-4, 11-3)
The Rams currently are third in the conference, third MW team in NET at 43rd. CSU owns a rock-solid resume, some solid wins, no losses outside the first two quadrants, all the makings of an at-large squad.
CSU also did not play this week. This upcoming week, there’s only one game on the schedule, on Saturday in Reno against Nevada, game two takes place on Monday. It’ll be two Q2 opportunities for CSU, with Nevada trying to play spoiler.
San Diego State (15-4, 9-3)
Despite being fourth in the conference right now, SDSU remains the top MW team in the NET, coming in at 24. The NET favors road blowout wins a lot, something the Aztecs have done a ton of.
Following San Diego State’s two losses in Logan against USU, they’ve been able to rack up six consecutive victories. Given, it hasn’t been against the most terrifying competition, facing Air Force, Wyoming & SJSU, it’s impressive either way.
With Matt Mitchell healthy, the elite defense, Schakel & Gomez’s shooting make San Diego State extremely dangerous & when fully healthy, it may be the best team in the conference. In the 2nd to last week of the regular season, SDSU gets to play Orlando Robinson & Fresno; should be an easy series.
Nevada Wolf Pack (14-7, 9-5)
Although the Wolf Pack doesn’t have a shot at getting an at-large, this team can still get into the tourney. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Steve Alford‘s crew was able to grab an auto-bid from the MWC tournament. With Grant Sherfield & Desmond Cambridge, anything can happen, and let me say this if the Pack makes the tourney (would likely be a 12/13 seed), I would be terrified if I were the better-seeded team.
Nevada ranks 101st in the NET, with a home loss to Air Force & a series loss on the road in Laramie.
The Pack will host Colorado State in the Lawlor Events Center, trying to play spoiler. I could see a split in this series, or at the very least, Nevada playing tough on a tournament team.
Fresno State Bulldogs (9-7, 7-7)
Starting at six and lower, that’s where we see a noticeable dip in the talent of teams in this conference. Fresno has one of the top performers in the conference in the form of Orlando Robinson. Even with Robinson being fantastic, players not named Robinson & Deon Stroud have struggled mightily this season.
The Bulldogs also look to make life tough for a tournament team, Brian Dutcher’s SDSU squad heads to Fresno.
UNLV Runnin Rebels (8-11, 5-7)
It’s obvious to see that T.J. Otzelberger will make UNLV a team worth being in the national spotlight eventually. Year two isn’t the start of that. UNLV can continue playing teams tough like they did Boise last week, but don’t pose a huge threat.
UNLV gets a series this week on the road against San Jose State.
Wyoming Cowboys (10-9, 4-8)
After a hot start to the season, things haven’t been nearly as smooth in conference play, now 4-8. The start of the Jeff Linder era looks very promising.
The future is bright with star guard Marcus Williams, Xavier DuSell & Kwane Marble alongside veteran do-it-all athlete Hunter Maldonado. Things typically haven’t gone great for Wyoming as a whole, but things are changing with the competitiveness they’ve shown.
Wyoming is currently set to play New Mexico this week. With the way things have gone with the Lobos in recent weeks, that series is in flux. A few weeks ago, New Mexico had a series canceled with multiple players mulling to opt-out of the remainder of the season. That didn’t appear to happen, with UNM traveling to Fort Collins, but once they got there, Assistant coach Scott Padgett was contact traced out with being close to somebody. The series was set to commence, and shortly before tip time, Padgett started showing symptoms and ruled a presumptive positive, making the series get postponed. If that series goes on, it’ll be an interesting one to monitor.
San Jose State Spartans (5-13, 3-11)
Things aren’t getting any better for San Jose State the rest of the season, more than likely; just try to build positive momentum for next season.
They’ll try to knock off UNLV in this one.
Air Force Academy Falcons (4-16, 2-14)
The Falcons can be a fun team to watch when they click and have played some competitive games this season, but the turnovers are destroying them.
The Academy gets this entire week off prior to potentially facing New Mexico.
New Mexico Lobos (5-11, 1-11)
Like I mentioned earlier, things aren’t going great for New Mexico. We’ll see what happens with New Mexico throughout the rest of the year. Stay tuned to Mountain West Wire for more updates from other tremendous writers about the Lobos.
CURRENT MW TOURNEY MATCHUP IF SEASON STARTS TODAY:
BYES: (1) Utah State Aggies (2) Boise State Broncos (3) Colorado State Rams
(8) Wyoming Cowboys (9) San Jose State Spartans
(7) UNLV Runnin Rebels (10) Air Force Falcons
(6) Fresno State Bulldogs (11) New Mexico Lobos
(4) San Diego State Aztecs (5) Nevada Wolf Pack
IMPACTFUL SERIES THIS WEEK:
Colorado State Rams at Nevada Wolf Pack
This will be a big-time series for the Rams aiming for an at-large bid in the tournament. Right now, there’s good reason to believe they should feel relatively safe. With a loss against Nevada, that makes the road a little bumpier. You absolutely cannot lose both games at this juncture.
Utah State Aggies @ Boise State Broncos
The potential series of the year in the Mountain West, the top team, facing the 2nd ranked team in the conference. Both teams want to grab an at-large bid. I imagine both teams would be in safely right now; the interesting parts come in if either team pulls off a sweep.
If Boise State gets swept, their at-large hopes drop intensely, sitting potentially on the wrong side of the bubble.
USU could certainly use at least one win here. Even if they get swept, they’ll likely be fine, but they may have to win games in the Conference Tournament.