Thomas & MACk Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
Record: 25-6, 14-4
The Wolf Pack used a six-Game winning streak to close the season, which includedwins over the second and third-place teams. They’ll be the favorites to win the Tournament, obviously, but they’ve been by no means dominant this season. What doesn’t help is that 4-seeded Fresno State could be waiting for them in the semis. While both Games were close, the Bulldogs swept them. In addition to that, Nevada’s first Game could come against Utah State, a team they split with and lost by 17 points on the road to.
Record: 21-10, 13-5
The Rams started Conference play with a difficult Schedule and that led to ensuing 3-3 and 6-4 records before they reeled off seven wins before losing at Nevada in the finale. The problem is that a lot of those wins weren’t entirely convincing. Their first opponent could end up being Wyoming, a team they swept but only beat by a combined seven points in two Games. From there, they’ll likely meet with Boise State, who they were swept by a total of Four points in two Games.
Record: 19-10, 12-6
As said above, the Broncos had Colorado State’s number this year, but it’s not like it was easy. Before that possible matchup, Boise State still has to take care of perennial contender San Diego State. Because of that, the Broncos will be a hard team to bet on, having to beat SDSU, CSU and then possibly top seeded Nevada in the final.
Record: 19-11, 11-7
The Bulldogs can’t be too upset by this draw, especially considering they closed the season with five-consecutive wins. But getting past New Mexico in their first Game won’t be easy as the two split during the season. And then having to beat Nevada for the third time will be even more difficult. With how this team has played the last couple weeks, Fresno could be the underdog to bet on, even if the Schedule is difficult. Winning recent back-to-back Games at SDSU and BSU was impressive.
SAN DIEGO STATE
Record: 17-12, 9-9
It almost feels wrong to see San Diego State seeded so low in this Tournament. The Aztecs have made it to six of the last seven championship Games, but haven’t won since 2011. They weren’t expected to be as good this season, but maybe not 9-9 in the Conference bad. The Aztecs come into the Tourney having lost three of their last Four, but at least get to take on lowly UNLV in the first round. From there, SDSU will have to go through Boise State and then likely Colorado State, who they went 0-3 against in the regular season.
Nevada is the top seed and has the best odds to win this Tournament, but that’s far from a safe bet. The Wolf Pack won’t have an easy Game in this Tournament, but betting on Fresno State to beat them three times would be tough. From the bottom of the bracket, Colorado State is the smart pick given Boise State’s difficult route to the championship.