Mountain West Disappoints In NCAA Tournament, Again
Four bid league goes winless
Out before the first day ended
Fine! We will talk about the terrible NCAA Tournament performance from the Mountain West.
There will be more said about what happened to the Mountain West this year in the NCAA tournament, but for now, the league had yet another disappointing season with all four teams being knocked out before all the games ended on Thursday.
This tweet sums it up pretty well.
that's what you get for turning your back on Hoops Nation pic.twitter.com/HNDgJMAkfo
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 18, 2022
For some reason, the Mountain West has historically struggled in the Big Dance ever since the league was established over 20 years ago.
The conference itself has not played well and is just 5-17 in NCAA Tournament play with the current state of the 11 teams within the league.
So… not good.
Below is how the league fared since 2014 and the league has not won a game since 2018 which saw Nevada make a deep NCAA Tournament run. That team was extremely close to going to the Elite Eight but they fail to Loyola-Chicago.
2020 could have been a special year because San Diego State likely would have been a two seed, so things are skewed with the overall results. That Aztecs team would have been the best chance for a Mountain West team to make a legitimate Final Four run.
Before they fell to Utah State in the conference title game, there was some talk of them being a No. 1 seed as they were sixth in KenPom after the loss.
2014: 2-2 (SDSU advances to Sweet 16; New Mexico loses in first round)
2015: 1-3 (SDSU advances to second round; Boise State loses in First Four; Wyoming loses in first round)
2016: 0-1 (Fresno State loses in first round)
2017: 0-1 (Nevada loses in first round)
2018: 2-2 (Nevada advances to Sweet 16; SDSU loses in first round)
2019: 0-2 (Nevada and Utah State lose in first round)
2020: 0-0 (no tournament due to COVID-19)
2021: 0-2 (SDSU and Utah State lose in first round)
2022: 0-4 (Wyoming loses in First Four; SDSU, Boise State, Colorado State lose in first round)
This four-bid league this year showed promise but also seeding didn’t help. Wyoming was in the opening round game and with San Diego State and Boise State on the 8/9 seed line is basically a toss-up. As for Colorado State, the Rams had the best chance, at least according to the seed line to get a win.
However, when you dig a bit deeper there are some other reasons for why the league struggled.
In the preseason, both Michigan and Memphis were considered fringe-national title contenders. The Wolverines were No. 6 in the preseason rankings; while the Tigers were 12th and 16th in both major polls.
Injuries and other things happened to both teams and their regular season did not live up to their preseason expectations, but the tournament allowed for a second season, and those two are still in the tournament.
Now, Michigan and Memphis seem to be more healthy and took care of business.
Boise State might have been under-seeded by some as they were a double-champion within the Mountain West but their bad loss against a Q4 Cal State Bakersfield didn’t help their cause. Neither did losing to another Big West team in UC Irvine.
It is not just one thing because this is a long-term trend within the conference basically since its inception.
The defense of these teams also could be a reason for the struggles. Boise State and San Diego State came into the tournament ranked 21st and 3rd in adjusted defense per KenPom.
That is an issue because heading into the tournament, there are better offensive teams and if the defense shows any leaks there are issues. The Aztecs had a double-digit lead vs. Creighton, and the Broncos just fell behind early and could not catch up to Memphis.
On the offensive side of efficiency rating at KenPom, neither was great. San Diego State ended up 166 and Boise State was 85.
This doesn’t jive for Colorado State who had a double-digit lead and just collapsed in the second half vs. Michigan.