Mountain West updated rankings
Boise remains 1st
1.) Boise State
How about the Broncos? Outright Mountain West regular-season champions. Leon Rice will have the Boise State Broncos back in the NCAA Tournament for the second time of his tenure in Boise. Five straight wins heading into the final regular-season game of the year in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s all about improving March Madness seeding at this point. A win over Colorado State would potentially move the Broncos out of the 8/9 game.
A mere three weeks ago, Wyoming looked like a virtual NCAA Tournament lock, but recent struggles have put things into question. Losing four of six, including road losses to New Mexico and UNLV inches them closer to the wrong side of the bubble. The offense isn’t flowing the same way as earlier in the year, and that’s what carried them into potentially making the tournament, to begin with. The Cowboys HAVE to beat Fresno State and might have some work in Vegas next week.
3.) Colorado State
After losing to UNLV for the second time, a tough stretch awaited — facing Wyoming and Utah State. The Rams won both games and erased any question — if there were any about them appearing in the Big Dance this season. I still think with the terrific offensive play, the Rams have the highest ceiling of any Mountain West team.
4.) San Diego State
What a week it’s been for the San Diego State Aztecs. It was starting off adding a monumental Q1 win in Laramie thanks to Matt Bradley erupting for 30 points. Speaking of Bradley — he and Adam Seiko announced their intentions to college for one more year. Bradley can raise the ceiling of San Diego State due to his terrific scoring ability, averaging 17.2 points per game. Brian Dutcher lost Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel, and Terrell Gomez but will likely have an NCAA Tournament team only one year later.
If any Mountain West team steals a bid, look at UNLV to be the team. Its conceivable UNLV will hear their name during the NIT Selection show if they can’t win the conference tournament — but that’s still a win in Kevin Kruger’s first year in Vegas. With the impressive defense and scoring output from Bryce Hamilton, I wouldn’t want to face the Runnin’ Rebels. UNLV would face San Diego State in the conference quarterfinals if the season ended today.
6.) Fresno State
Two words. One name. Orlando Robinson. The Bulldogs star forward scored 26 points, adding ten rebounds, while hitting the game-winning jumper over New Mexico. Robinson could will the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament bid next week in Vegas. I wouldn’t sleep on Justin Hutson’s squad heading into the conference tournament.
7.) Utah State
The metrics still adore the Aggies despite their 16-14 record. They’ve lost four of five games and will have to win four games in four days to notch an NCAA Tournament bid. With the current standings, if Utah State defeats Air Force, they’ll play the winner of San Diego State/UNLV.
Nevada is 6-11 in Mountain West play — who saw that coming? Since February 22nd, the Pack dropped three consecutive games, including one rivalry matchup with UNLV. Nevada hasn’t gotten consistent performances from Desmond Cambridge Jr and Grant Sherfield but can make noise in the MW Tournament if that happens. The two only combined for 24 points in the loss in Laramie last week.
9.) New Mexico
The feisty young Lobos nearly knocked off Fresno State in the Save Mart Center but came up just short in a valiant effort. Jamal Mashburn Jr poured in 27 points on 8-22 shooting, while Jaelen House added 18 points. The win total of 12 wins doesn’t tell the story of how competitive New Mexico has been following their terrible 2020-21 season. The future is bright in Albuquerque. Richard Pitino should have the pieces to make an even bigger jump in year two.
10.) San Jose State
The Spartans didn’t have all of their players available but lost by 25 points at the hands of San Diego State. Omari Moore was the lone Spartan in double-figures. On Tuesday, the Spartans dropped their second game to Air Force 58-54 in Colorado Springs. Freshman MJ Amey continued to show glimpses of future stardom, scoring a team-best 18 points.
11.) Air Force
Air Force showed a formidable effort in the 69-65 loss in the PIT over the weekend; while it’s not a win, it could bring momentum into the final two games. Air Force won their second game over San Jose State this season, which accounts for two of their three wins in conference play. The team struggled scoring-wise, but the toughness on defense guided them to victory.