Ah the Mountain West Tournament. Only two years ago this event was like Christmas Eve, the show before the show. It was an exciting event that officially kicked off March Madness. And now, with Utah struggling, it's nothing. Yeah, maybe the Utes will get hot and roll through the tournament, and maybe one day I'll pass through Vegas without blowing all my money. Both would be nice, but most likely not going to happen.
Even though I'm not nearly excited for this tournament as I have in years past, it could still offer some excitement. Though I don't expect much, a good showing, even in a losing effort, wouldn't be entirely bad. Especially after Saturday's blowout loss to BYU, the worst to Utah's rival in 13 years.
So who'll win the tournament? Can Air Force finally win its first Mountain West Tournament game? And will BYU build its resume for a better seed? Well, let's have a look at the picks...
#9 New Mexico and #8 TCU
The Frogs sat at the bottom of the conference for most of the season, but the Lobos collapse this year has been monumental and it was enough to push the Frogs out of the cellar. The Lobos have lost four straight, but I'm going with New Mexico in this one.
#9 New Mexico and #1 BYU
Won't even be close, BYU rolls to a victory.
#5 Wyoming and #4 Air Force
The Falcons have abruptly fallen off after looking like the runaway favorite to win the Mountain West Conference. They're entering the Mountain West Tournament on a 3 game losing streak and have never won a Mountain West tournament game. The fact they tend to always burn out at the end of the season makes me think Wyoming will pull off the upset.
#7 Utah and #2 UNLV
UNLV cracked the top-25 this week, which would lead you to believe Utah stands a great shot at defeating the Rebels (Utes defeated Washington State, Air Force and Virginia this season, all have at one time or another been in the top-25). A month ago I would have agreed with that statement, but not this time. Utah gave up shortly after they blew an 11 point lead on the road against San Diego State in January and since this game is being played on the Rebels home court, I think they'll roll.
#6 Colorado State and #3 San Diego State
It's been an up and down ride for the Aztecs this season. After being picked to win the conference, they started out very poorly, only to rebound and climb to the top-3 of the conference. I expect San Diego State to cruise here, as Colorado State just isn't a good team.
#5 Wyoming and #1 BYU
Wyoming's run ends here, as the Cougars roll to an easy victory. The Cowboys might give them trouble early on, but I expect BYU to have this game easily in hand by the early second half.
#3 San Diego State and #2 UNLV
Rebels benefit from having the game on their home court. This should be a real battle, but ultimately UNLV pulls away down the stretch and wins by a decent margin.
#2 UNLV and #1 BYU
Again UNLV has the advantage of this game being on their home court. The last time these two teams met in Vegas, the Rebels rolled and I actually expect the same. I just don't see how BYU wins this, unless they get lucky and San Diego State or Utah upsets UNLV early in the tournament.
UNLV wins the Mountain West Tournament, gets a decent seed and makes some minor noise in the NCAA Tournament. Only one team (Utah) has made it to the Sweet 16 since the conference formed in 1999, will that change this year?