Get Ready For Mountain West League Play
A preview of what to expect for conference play
Who will win the MWC?
Mountain West basketball conference play is back. Once again, the top-notch basketball conference turns on itself. For the coming months, the 11 teams will turn the league into a lawless den of anarchy in a spirited fight for the coveted regular season title. The culmination of which will be the conference tournament, but in this league, a well-established multi-bid league, there is plenty to play for before the teams converge in Las Vegas.
The regular season championship doesn’t technically equate to an automatic bid but in the Mountain West, it may as well. In 17 of the 18 times when the regular season champions didn’t receive an automatic bid, they received an at-large bid. So, winning regular-season games is certainly important.
The Mountain West, led by the undefeated New Mexico Lobos the conference is .693 with a combined record of 88-39.
UNLV is 1-0 against ranked teams and the conference is 1-3.
Against quad 1 teams, the league has gone 4-12. The conference is 16-8 against quad 2 teams, 26-11 against quad 3 teams, and 42-8 when facing quad 4 opponents.
An already-strong conference with sky-high expectations has become stronger and exceeded expectations. The league is downright loaded, with some surprising results from a few teams bolstering the core of the conference.
Six teams have three or fewer losses and eight teams have four or fewer. Despite three teams sliding into losing territory, every single team has had a winning record at some point this season.
The Mountain West boasts some of the most storied ventures in the sport, and so far teams have defended their home courts nicely. Each team is .500 or better when playing at home. Three teams are undefeated at home.
The conference has also fared well on the road, with only two teams below .500 on the road and five teams that are undefeated in opposing arenas.
The top three teams are soaring and the bottom three teams are having a fair share of struggles, but the middle of the conference this year is very impressive. The 4th-8th place teams each have only three or four losses.
Compared to last year, the bottom of the conference has slid slightly, while the top of the conference is just as strong, if not stronger. Last year’s last-place team at the start of conference play, New Mexico, still had a positive record, as the Lobos started with a record of 7-6. This year, the last-place Bulldogs, are in the negative with a record of 4-7.
The impressive start to the season has gained the favor of the experts and the numbers. At 22, New Mexico is currently the ranked team in the league, although San Diego State spent some time in the top 25 before falling out and several teams have received votes but weren’t able to break into the rankings.
Led by New Mexico at 14 and Utah State at 22, the conference has three teams in the top 40 NET Rankings, six in the top 65, and seven in the top 100.
In KenPom, San Diego State at 26 and Utah State at 39 lead the way as the two teams in the top 40. Behind them, four teams are in the top 65, and seven are in the top 100.
In the Mountain West, a historically strong conference defined by party and competition, the chaos is indeed the pattern.
Within reason, any team can beat any team. This is a league where isn’t a squad that would be comfortable giving up an early 10-0 run to another team. Especially outside of the bottom three, there is little margin for error. Good teams win games, but when good teams play good teams over and over and over, chaos happens. As usual, the Mountain West is hard to predict.
Just three teams carry a losing streak into conference play. Adding momentum to the talented teams, legendary arenas, and elite teams, Mountain West basketball, once again promises to be a wild ride.