By: Jacob Seus, KCOU Sports
New Mexico has run the Mountain West Conference since 2011 but it looks as if that run will finally end as the tournament is set to get under way. Boise State, Colorado State, and San Diego State all had a competitive finish towards the end of the season with the Broncos crowned regular season champions. Boise State was tied with San Diego State in terms of conference record but Boise State won the head to head matchup. That should be good enough to earn Boise State the tournament bid even if they can’t win the tournament, which starts Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Besides the three teams mentioned this conference lacks other programs that can make a competitive mark in the tournament. The first game Wednesday will be New Mexico vs. Air Force. The Lobos will take this one after putting up a very convincing win over Air Force when the season began. The other play-in game will be between the host team UNLV and Nevada. The two games these teams played during conference play were both must watch games, they were both within 5 points as the teams split the season series. Home court advantage will favor UNLV in this one as they will move on to the second round.
The first, second round matchup will be between the Broncos and New Mexico. Boise State took care of New Mexico by double digits twice during the regular season and this game won’t be any different. Wyoming and Utah State will meet in the second round in a battle of the 4 and 5 seeds. Both of these teams come into the game on different emotions. Utah State is coming off a bad loss to Colorado State and Wyoming is coming off of their best game of the year when they routed USU. Their mindsets will be too much, as Wyoming will take this one.
Despite the home court advantage for UNLV, SDSU will take care of the Lobos in the second round just like they have done all season. In the last second round game Colorado State will be taking on Fresno State. In the two conference matches, CSU won 80-57, and 81-73. Don’t look for anything different this time around, CSU to the semi finals.
The semi finals are set when Wyoming takes on Boise State and Colorado State takes on San Diego State. The upset of the tournament will come when Wyoming defeats Boise State to get to the finals. Larry Nance Jr. will lead the Cowboys over the Broncos in a tightly contested matchup. The best game of the tournament will be between the 2 and 3 seeds when CSU and SDSU meet up. The two had a 1-1 season series record. Mountain West defensive player of the year Skylar Spencer will help shut down the CSU offense leading SDSU to the finals.
With San Diego State not having to see Boise State one more time, SDSU will take care of Wyoming with ease, as their Cinderella run will come to an end. San Diego State will earn the tournament berth. The Boise State Broncos will also get in as well. The Mountain West Conference will be represented by two teams in the NCAA tournament.