Final Mountain West bracket projection
How many teams will get into the tournament?
It’s selection Sunday! How is the conference shaping up?
Tomorrow is the NCAA Tournament Selection show — and we’ll figure out whether the Mountain West gets 2-3-or four bids into the NCAA Tournament. The one confirmed bid is San Diego State, who served up a 62-57 victory in the mountain west title game against Utah State, who is also vying for a Tournament bid.
So let’s start with San Diego State: The Bracketmatrix has the Aztecs sitting as the second 5-seed, facing the Atlantic 10 champion VCU Rams. Both of those teams are programs who are widely known for displaying an elite effort on the defensive end — and both rank top-25 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, so first to 55 wins? The best possible matchup for San Diego State is either the College of Charleston, a 30- game winner in the CAA or the current projected matchup of VCU — if the Rams beat Dayton in tomorrow’s A10 title game. Charleston used a fast-paced offense to win 30-games but their strength of schedule sits near the bottom nationally, but would greatly struggle against San Diego State’s size and physicality. A potential matchup against Drake or Oral Roberts would put the Aztecs in upset city. Those two mid major teams are capable of breaking through the elite San Diego State defense with elite scorers Tucker DeVries from Drake and Max Abmas from Oral Roberts. Regardless of matchup, San Diego State is likely to sit on the five line in tomorrow’s NCAA Tournament bracket.
Current projection: 10-seed
Utah State is officially listed in each of the 118 brackets listed on the matrix. The Aggies lack the quality of wins but it’s hard to imagine them missing out on the tournament with their top-20 net ranking and top-30 KenPom ranking to boot. The Aggies resume has a presented an interesting case study on the preference to big wins or resume building metrics. It seems as if the metrics play a bigger role in deciding whether someone makes the tournament or not, but tomorrow will indicate whether my hypothesis is accurate or not. As the final 10-seed in the projected brackets, Utah State would meet Creighton from the Big East in its first round matchup. Creighton has a ton of size with 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner manning the paint and athletic freak Arthur Kaluma to matchup against Utah State’s above average length. With no bid stealers remaining, lock in Utah State into the NCAA Tournament for the first bid in Ryan Odom’s tenure in Logan.
The Wolf Pack looked like a virtual look if they took care of business in its final two regular season games against Wyoming and UNLV. However, the Pack not only lost both games but proceeded to lose its first round conference tournament game to San Jose State to likely end the tournament dream in Reno. The lack of stolen bids can give Nevada fans some sense of hope since 35 brackets have the Wolf Pack included and many others put them in the first four out territory. You just never know what the committee will decide on for the final four teams in the Field of 68, but it feels like Nevada did enough to keep itself out of the tournament.
Boise State: The Broncos sit next to Utah State on the 10-seed line entering Selection Sunday. The Broncos win over Texas A&M has aged greatly as the Aggies look like one of the better teams in the country and have a chance to win the SEC title today against Alabama. While the Broncos did lose to Utah State in the league tournament, the Broncos won’t have much to sweat about heading into the selection show. Leon Rice’s squad has done more than enough to make the tournament for the second consecutive season.
Conclusion: It seems like the Mountain West will net three tournament bids with a fourth bid remaining a possibility. While it’s very unlikely, Nevada’s Tournament hopes aren’t completely squashed just yet. I can’t imagine the Pack actually getting into the tournament after losing two Q3 games in the final week of the season
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