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Mountain West Notebook

March 1, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Mountain West Championship Preview

Here we sit, a little more than a week before the Mountain West
Tournament and it looks like a two-team race. Wyoming and Utah are
by far the class of the conference. Utah sits atop the league with a 9-2 record following a 66-65 victory over New Mexico. Wyoming, at 8-2, was in the driver’s seat until Steve Fisher’s upstart San Diego State squad knocked of the Cowboys 68-64 in Laramie in a game that wasn’t even that close.

As of Feb. 18th Utah sat in 39th place in the AP polls, while Wyoming was behind in the 40th spot. This week’s loss means Wyoming will probably need to win the conference tourney in order to go dancing. Utah sits on a precarious bubble should they not win the conference tourney. The Runnin’ Utes could make the NCAA tourney, but a loss prior to the conference final, or a couple of upsets among the other Mid-Majors will leave them looking at the NIT.

Jeckyl and Hyde
BYU knows the value of homecourt advantage. The Cougars are 13-0 at home this season, including 8-0 in the conference. In fact, the Cougars are 25-0 at home in conference play since joining the MWC. Their 33 game home win streak is tops in the country. Unfortunately, the Cougars are winless on the road in conference. You have to go all the way back to opening night against San Diego to find BYU’s last road victory. BYU’s home finale against Utah on the 23rd could prove disastrous to the Utes chances for a spot in the field of 64.

Working Overtime
This season has seen a record 6 overtime games in conference play for the Mountain West. In their league’s first season, there were only 2 games that couldn’t be decided after 40 minutes. Last season there were 4. BYU has been slacking off, as they are the only team to not play extra minutes this year. Wyoming hasn’t wanted to leave the floor. The Cowboys have played 3 overtime games, including 4 overtimes against Air Force Jan 28. A few more seasons at this rate, and the league may as well start playing NBA length games to save teams the trouble of playing the extra session.

Showdown at the Double A
Mark March 2nd on your calendar. Utah travels to Laramie for a battle with Wyoming in the season finale. The winner will probably take the number one seed into the conference tourney and one more quality win in their RPI totals for a possible at-large bid. Wyoming’s 11 game home win streak came to an end against San Diego State this week, but the Cowboys have to be the favorite in this one.

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