2021 MW Championship Semifinals Preview: #5 Nevada vs. #1 San Diego State
The Aztecs swept Nevada during the regular season by a combined margin of only seven points. This game will be a battle.
The Aztecs hold the regular season title; now they must get through the Wolf Pack to reach the Mountain West Tourney finals.
Las Vegas, NV — The #1 Aztecs (21-4, 14-3 MW) barely escaped their quarterfinals match against the young, up-and-coming #8 Wyoming Cowboys (14-11, 7-9 MW). The final score, 69-66 reveals a down to-the-wire, one-possession win.
Meanwhile, the #5 Wolf Pack (16-9, 10-7 MW) took down the #4 Boise State Broncos (18-8, 14-6 MW) 89-82, as the Broncos continued a devastating end-of-season collapse.
WHO: Nevada (16-9, 10-7 MWC) vs. SDSU (21-4, 14-3 MWC)
WHEN: Friday, March 12th, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. PST | 9:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: Thomas & Mack Center – Las Vegas, NV
WATCH: CBS Sports Network
LISTEN: 1360-AM, 101.5-FM
ALL-TIME RECORD: This is the 28th game in the series. SDSU leads the series 21-6, and the Aztecs swept Nevada this season.
ODDS: San Diego State -8
The Aztecs are BUTTER with 12 straight wins. In lay terms: they’re ON A ROLL. They’re a lock for the NCAA Tournament- win or lose tonight. The Aztecs are the Mountain West regular season champions. Matt Mitchell edged out stellar athletes to become the Mountain West Player of the Year. Brian Dutcher is the Coach of the Year. Butter.
A victory at the Mountain West Championship could further strengthen their seeding position to as low as 5. A win tonight and tomorrow is important for SDSU, even if it is not technically “crucial.”
On to the Wolf Pack: there are four NCAA Tournament contenders in the Mountain West, but Nevada (17-9) is not one of them. They suddenly find themselves in the Mountain West Semifinals. The Pack finished 5th place in the league and can only make the NCAA Tourney by winning the Mountain West Tournament. After beating Boise State Thursday- it’s a possibility.
Never, ever count out Nevada coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal. Like a working man’s Batman and Robin, “Captain Alford” and his devoted sidekick “Noodles” are making their way upward, yet again, in Mountain West mens’ basketball. You’d never know it by looking at them but both were skilled NBA ballers.
Thursday’s Aztecs quarterfinals victory exposed SDSU’s greatest advantage: DEPTH. Six different players can blow up and take over a game. This time it was grad transfer sharpshooter Terrell Gomez, who contributed 20 points on 8 for 12 shooting. On other nights Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel, Trey Pulliam – even Nathan Mensah can go on a scoring and rebounding run.
When the Wolf Pack beat Boise State, they were led by a 31-point performance from junior guard Desmon Cambridge Jr. (15.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Scoring machine Grant Sherfield (18.0 ppg, 6.2 apg) had a GREAT first half, putting up 26 points in total. Nevada can also expect sophomore forward Warren Washington (9.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) to step it up, considering he had 18 points on Thursday.
Nevada plays at a quick pace but there is weakness in their defense. Nevada has allowed at least 82 points in three straight games- and that could be a problem against SDSU. The Pack managed one upset, but toppling the Aztecs will take an other-level performance.
San Diego State remains the Mountain West’s best team and is looking to win the MWC Tournament. Having already secured an NCAA Tournament bid, will they still play more aggressively than the Wolf Pack?
In this matchup Nevada will fight tooth-and-nail for a huge upset win, and Steve Alford knows all about winning. Nonetheless, the powerful Aztecs will stymie the Wolf Pack’s offense, and also take advantage of a middling defense with high percentage arc scoring skills to rain down three’s.
Final Score: Aztecs 82, Wolf Pack 71