Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
8 Wyoming def. 9 San Jose State
7 UNLV def. 10 Air Force
6 Fresno State def. 11 New Mexico
1 San Diego State def. 8 Wyoming
5 Nevada def. 4 Boise State
2 Utah State def. 7 UNLV
3 Colorado State def. 6 Fresno State
1 San Diego State def. 5 Nevada
2 Utah State def. 3 Colorado State
2 Utah State def. 1 San Diego State
For the third consecutive year, Utah State has a chance to win the Mountain West as the second seeded team. This would also be the third straight year facing San Diego State in the finals if the bracket above is to be believed. The Aggies are once again a legitimate force fronted by forwards Neemias Queta and Justin Bean who combine for 26 points and 18 rebounds per game in conference play. The Aggies also lead all of Division I in rebounding rate grabbing 57.4% of possible rebounds. With a strong roster and players who have “been there before,” a three-peat championship would give Utah State a strong seed in March Madness.
The story of the MWC has been the four teams that all could go to the NCAA Tournament. Left out of that story, the Nevada Wolf Pack are as many games out of fourth as they are ahead of sixth. They have existed in a middle range where they can hang with the elite but stumble to the lower teams. However, since the start of February, Nevada is 4-2 with a three week break in the middle. In that time, they swept Boise State (their first round conference opponent), lost a close game to Utah State, and beat Colorado State in their regular season finale. The Wolf Pack are led by sophomore transfer Grant Sherfield who tops the list in points per game during Mountain West play. There’s a reason this conference might send four and not five teams, but Nevada has the best chance to play disruptor.
Matchup to Watch
San Diego State vs Utah State
The two best scoring defenses in the Mountain West clashed twice in January in very low-scoring games. Utah State, who hosted both meetings, swept San Diego State by scores of 57-45 and 64-59. Now almost exactly two months later, these teams can meet once again in the Mountain West title game. Since losing to Utah State, the Aztecs have won 11 in a row led by Mountain West Player of the Year Matt Mitchell. The Aggies enter on a four-game winning streak that was preceded by back-to-back losses in Boise. If fans are lucky enough to get a repeat matchup of the 2019 and 2020 finals, it will be one of the best games on television this Saturday.
Featured Image courtesy of utahstateaggies.com
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