This is the final week before the Mountain West tournament and it looks like a two-way race for the conference championship. Air Force's loss to TCU most likely ended their chances at the championship, while BYU and UNLV are still fighting it out.
|1||After UNLV's blowout loss to BYU a few weeks ago, it didn't look like they stood much of a chance at winning the conference championship. Well now that's all changed, with BYU now only holding a game lead on the Rebels and UNLV having the easier schedule of the two. If BYU were to lose only one game this week and UNLV won out, the Rebels would tie for the Mountain West Championship. Lon Kruger, in his third year with the Rebels, has put together a solid program and definitely has them on the upswing.|
|2||BYU finally cracked the top-25 last week for the first time in over 15 years and promptly went out and lost to San Diego State in their second game as a ranked team. That loss could prove to be costly, especially if they can't beat Air Force Tuesday -- a game that's on the road. Last Wednesday it looked as if the Cougars were about to wrap up their first out of conference championship in 19 years and now that's in doubt.|
|3||Air Force looked to be a lock for the conference championship a few weeks ago, but now they're most likely out of the race. I still can't figure out how they lost to TCU, even if it was on the road. The Frogs are horrible this season and there really isn't an excuse for dropping a game like this. That loss kills the Falcons RPI and most likely dooms them to an unwinnable second round game (if they advance). They definitely need to beat BYU Tuesday, or things could get interesting come selection time.|
|4||I hate putting San Diego State here because they're a good team. But their poor play early on really forced them to play catch up and because of that they don't stand much of a chance in the championship race -- even though they were picked to win it. Their win over a ranked BYU team was good, and they should follow that up with victories over Utah and TCU to end the season. That will position them for a probable run to the Mountain West Tournament championship, possibly their only chance at the NCAA Tournament.|
|5||I only put Wyoming here because Colorado State and Utah have managed only one victory over the past few games. So while they lost to the Rams Saturday, they still managed to beat Utah in Laramie and San Diego State on the 17th. They end the season with a road game against TCU and then a home one against New Mexico. The Cowboys, like the teams below them, are out of postseason contention barring a miraculous run through the conference tournament.|
|6||Utah ended a three game losing streak Saturday night with a 93-91 double OT victory over New Mexico. While the Utes didn't play particularly well, a win is a win and I guess we'll take it. The Utes moved out of 8th place and, for now anyway, will miss out on the Mountain West Tournament play-in game. Though tough games against San Diego State and BYU to end the season could definitely push them back into that dreaded 8th spot.|
|7||Though the Rams knocked off Wyoming Saturday, they're still nowhere near where many thought they would be once conference season started. For the second year in a row CSU rolled to a fast start, only to watch their season crumble once conference play started. Dale Layer, who most likely is on the hot seat, might be the worst coach in the conference and I would be surprised if he returned next year. The Rams, not known for their basketball program, have the talent to be far better than 6-9 in conference play.|
|8||I'll move TCU out of the cellar because of their victory over Air Force. While this has been a season to forget, they still managed to knock off a top-25 team. Though I doubt their standing will last, as they've got Wyoming and San Diego State on tap before the season ends.|
|9||The Lobos take over the bottom in this week's power rankings after going 0-2 last week. That included a loss to a mediocre Utah team, the Lobos 18th straight loss to the Utes in Salt Lake City. New Mexico also fired head coach Ritchie McKay late last week, becoming the first Mountain West team to announce a coaching change this season. That however didn't inspire the Lobos, as they dropped their first game since learning the news. New Mexico plays UNLV at home and then ends the regular season on the road against Wyoming. Realistically, they should finish 8th or 9th, meaning they will probably be in the play-in game.|
The final week has finally arrived, which means for Utah fans it's only a few more games before Giacoletti's dismissal (or so we hope). It'll be interesting to see which teams make the NCAA Tournament. If I had to guess it'd be Air Force, BYU and UNLV, with San Diego State playing in the NIT.