MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Thomas & MACk Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
SAN DIEGO STATE
Record: 23-8, 16-2
In previous seasons, the Aztecs haven’t needed to win this Tournament to compete in March Madness. This year, it’s a different story. OUtside of a win over California, they don’t have any relevant non-Conference wins and it’s been a mostly down year for the MWC. San Diego State ran through the Conference and won by three Games, but that doesn’t matter if they don’t win this. Non-Conference losses to Utah, West Virginia and Kansas will ultimately cost them. Not to mention, they also lost at home to Grand Canyon and Boise State.
The road to the title Game is simple enough for the Aztecs. Before the championship, their biggest challenge is either New Mexico or Nevada in the semifinals. Two Games ago, SDSU blew out New Mexico by 27 points on the road.
Record: 22-9, 13-5
The bottom of the bracket is a battle between two teams with the Bulldogs being the favorite to make it out. They have won six-straight Games, but in their only meeting with Boise State they lost by 11 points on the road.
Fresno State is a real threat to take down SDSU in the championship Game. Those two split in the regular season with both Games being extremely competitive. SDSU won by six points at home and Fresno won by one point at its home.
Record: 20-11, 11-7
The Broncos have some experienced players on their roster, but have just been too inconsistent to be considered for the NCAA Tournament without winning this Tourney. They took down Oregon and that’s their best Game of the year.
Boise State had lost five of seven Games before taking down San Diego State on the road, but the value of that win was wiped out when they lost to San Jose State in the regular season finale. The Broncos have the tools to win the MWC, but taking down Fresno and SDSU in back-to-back days is unlikely.
The reason the MWC has fallen off this year is mainly because teams like New Mexico and UNLV have failed to live up to expectations. The Lobos have been a Tournament team in recent years and many expected the Runnin’ Rebels to compete with SDSU at the top of the standings. However, that hasn’t been the case and so San Diego State’s solid record in Conference play means nothing as most of the competition is outside of the Top 100 RPI.
The Aztecs have some pieces that could give a number of teams some problems in the NCAA Tournament, especially if they draw a 12-seed. But none of that can be discussed until they win this Tournament, which isn’t a for sure thing.