Monday, March 6, 2017

Mountain West Conference tournament preview

This is part 21 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Nevada 14-4
Colorado St 13-5
Boise St 12-6
Fresno St 11-7
New Mexico 10-8
San Diego St 9-9
Wyoming 8-10
Utah St 7-11
San Jose St 7-11
Air Force 4-14
UNLV 4-14

Tournament format:
Everyone goes to Vegas from Wednesday March 8 to Saturday March 11.  Why does everyone in the west play in Vegas, anyways?  Never mind, I know why.

The matchups:
1) Nevada vs. 8/9) Utah St/San Jose St
4) Fresno St vs. 5) New Mexico
3) Boise St vs. 6/11) San Diego St/UNLV
2) Colorado St vs. 7/10) Wyoming/Air Force

The stakes:
Does Nevada have at-large hope?  0 Top 50 wins...7 Top 100 wins,, but the RPIs on those wins are 91, 92, 83, 83, 71, 65, 65.  Not optimal.  Similar profile to Illinois St, with a little more depth of wins but without the signature win.  I just don't have a good feel on this one, but I think I'm taking this over ISU as your token mid-major at-large resume if push comes to shove.  They've lost to Fresno twice, so I'd recommend winning that potential semifinal game.

One more passing thought on Nevada....I've been a proponent of the "pocket collection of wins" theory in past years, but I've weaned off it this year.  Evidence is starting to mount that quality of wins matter more than quantity.  7 Top 100 wins look good, but the committee is starting to not care as much about home/neutral top 100 wins.  Of course, they could reverse this year and I can look like an idiot, so we'll see what happens.

It's a weird spot for the conference as a whole.  RPI 10, but just nobody else even remotely close to the bubble.  It's to the point that Boise St and Colorado St can do no better than the NIT bubble.  A potential semifinal there might actually be for a NIT bid.  I think Boise has the better resume, so I think they'll end up ahead on the S-Curve despite the 1 game deficit in the standings.  I have to imagine they'll take one if not both.

Everyone lower is destined for a CIT or CBI, if they want it.  Fresno, New Mexico, SDSU, Wyoming.  They're all in position for it.  Whoopie.

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