Final week upcoming!
The final week of the scheduled regular season is a WRAP! We have a handful of games being made up that previously were postponed due to COVID.
San Diego State swept Boise in what was nothing short of a fantastic series, as advertised.
Utah State held serve, keeping any remaining dream of an at-large alive.
(1) San Diego State Aztecs (19-4, 13-3)
After looking like the best team for much of the season in the conference, the Aztecs finally reign supreme, snagging first place in the conference. It occurred with the sweep against Boise State over the weekend.
Brian Dutcher’s undoubtedly one of the true elite coaches in the country, and he’s showing why this season, after losing Malachi Flynn & Yanni Wetzell, they once again likely to win the conference.
For SDSU to not win the conference, it would take a devastating loss to UNLV, a team that shouldn’t give the Aztecs any issues. That would make it two consecutive Mountain West regular-season titles.
(2) Colorado State Rams (15-4, 12-3)
Another spot that’s nearly clinched, what a spot to be in for Niko Medved’s Rams. Who would’ve expected Colorado State to be a defensive-oriented team that is 2nd in Mountain West?
Weirdly enough, three games are remaining for Colorado State, facing Air Force, New Mexico & in Reno against Nevada. Two of those will be pretty easy wins; go ahead, it’s fair to pencil those in. It’s quite possible Nevada plays tough with their talented roster, but it’s virtually a lock that Colorado State will snag the #2 seed in the conference tournament.
(3) Utah State Aggies (16-7, 13-4)
There was one team in the conference that could ill-afford a loss & that was Utah State. No sweat from Craig Smith beating Nevada pretty easily in the two-game set in Logan. Given, USU nearly blew the game in the first one, but they ended up holding on despite playing horrifically late.
If the Aggies win their final two games of the season against Wyoming ans Fresno State, they’ll cement themselves into the third slot in the MW tourney.
Now, speaking of their at-large hopes. The Aggies find themselves in an eerily similar spot to last season, where they ended up winning the conference tournament via Sam Merill game-winning triple. I would say win get to the MW title game for their at-large chances and figure it out from there.
(4) Boise State Broncos (18-6, 14-5)
Unreal how the Broncos slotted in at the one spot entering last week, following a winless week in San Diego; they’re now fourth at the weeks’ conclusion.
That doesn’t do the Broncos justice due to how fantastic Leon Rice’s bunch is. Potential conference POTY Derrick Alston is guiding the team into the promised land.
I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if fourth-seeded Boise State went off in the conference tournament to officially stamp their bid into March, but I’d imagine they’re in regardless.
Boise State caps off the regular season against Fresno State on Derrick Alston’s senior day. An emotional night in Boise for a cornerstone of the program.
(5) Nevada Wolf Pack (14-9, 9-7)
Steve Alford’s Pack dropped both games in Logan last week. While that result has to sting for the Wolf Pack faithful, it showed room for improvement in the conference tournament, and in the first game, Nevada has the ability to compete in the conference tournament.
Grant Sherfield can be an all-time Wolf Pack great and will easily be a first-team Mountain West player.
The Pack might play spoiler at home against Colorado State, trying to block Niko Medved’s chances of making the dance. I believe Nevada’s also locked into the five-spot because they could tie with UNLV record-wise, but Nevada would win the tie-breaker.
(6) UNLV Runnin Rebels (11-12, 8-8)
The word “Disappointing” is an understatement for UNLV’s series against Fresno State. Dropping game one at home to a subpar Fresno team is less than ideal, but at least game-two ended in a one-point UNLV victory after trailing by 16 in the first half.
T.J. Otzelberger’s defense has been an abomination, ranking 230th in defensive efficiency while allowing opposing teams to shoot a stunningly high 38% from three.
Before hosting the conference tournament, UNLV concludes its season is hosting SDSU & heading to Laramie to face Wyoming.
(7) Fresno State Bulldogs (10-10, 8-10)
It’s indisputable that it’s a lost season for Justin Hutson’s Bulldogs. When you have a young team that doesn’t have much to play, it’s all about building momentum for the next season. Fresno did that by beating UNLV in game one and losing game two by only a point.
There’s an opportunity where Fresno State can play spoiler against two teams seeking wins. Boise State & Utah State await Fresno this week.
(8) Wyoming Cowboys (12-9, 6-8)
Nothing’s changed for Wyoming this week, with no games being played since February 19th’s win over New Mexico. We know where Wyoming’s struggles arise. That’s on the defensive end, ranking 325th in KenPom in that area, but their offense is tremendous.
In the final week, Jeff Linder’s crew heads to Logan, trying to make Utah State’s life infinitely more difficult. Senior Day won’t make a pit-stop in Laramie because there’s zero seniors on the roster. That shows how bright the future could be for Wyoming returning everyone in 2021-22. The brand Linder’s building with Marcus Williams is the future centerpiece, Hunter Maldonado sticking around for another two seasons. Kwane Marble, Xavier DuSell & Kenny Foster return. Getting Linder to come to Laramie was a home-run hire.
(9) San Jose State Spartans (5-15, 3-13)
The Spartans’ struggles continue after dropping four consecutive in the past two weeks.
Even with the struggles in 2020-21, being 9th in the conference standings, all things considered, it’s something to build upon for the future.
With some of the younger guys like Sebastian Mendoza & Nate Lacewell getting battle-tested as freshmen players.
SJSU is the lone team in the conference that’s wrapped up their conference schedules; now it’s onto the conference tournament.
(10) Air Force Academy Falcons (5-18, 3-16)
The Academy’s struggles commence after getting blown-out by 23 against Colorado State. Round two of that series is on Monday, the day this update goes up. Assuming that’s a loss, the conference season will end for AFA being 5-19 overall.
There’s some seniors getting their last run with the Academy. Seeing some younger guys develop getting experience in the conference tournament’s depths, like Joseph Octave, Carter Murphy & Nikc Jackson all-seeing things.
(11) New Mexico Lobos (6-14, 2-14)
In expected news, UNM & Paul Weir opted to mutally part-ways after the season concludes. It’s been a weird season for everybody with the COVID Protocols, start-and-stops & all kinds of different issues.
The forgetful season ends for the Lobos against Colorado State, before entering the conference tournament. Then from there-on, the coaching search begins. There’s no question brighter days are ahead in Albuquerque.
It’ll be a full re-tooling for the Lobos program, but it’ll once again be a notable team in the future.
MATCHUPS BASED ON CURRENT SEEDING:
BYES: (1) San Diego State, (2) Colorado State (3) Utah State
(4) Boise State Vs. (5) Nevada
(8) Wyoming Cowboys Vs. (9) San Jose State Spartans
(7) Fresno State Vs. (10) Air Force
(6) UNLV Vs. New Mexico