Home » Conference Notes » Currently Reading:

Mountain West Notebook

March 13, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Mountain West Notebook

by Bob Thurman

A Tie At The Top

Congrats to both Utah and BYU for capturing the conference title with an 11-3 record, three games ahead of their closest competitor. Of course, the Utes can crow a little more about it since they swept the Cougars this season and received the number one seed in the conference tournament, which starts on Thursday in Las Vegas.

When conference play began, there were a number of teams that were playing well and had aspirations of taking the conference title. However, as the season went on, it became clear that Utah and BYU were the class of the league this year. Both Rick Majerus and Steve Cleveland deserve high praise for bringing their teams together so quickly. Both will be playing in the NCAA Tournament, and neither of them will bow out quietly. If they are seeded correctly, I see at least one of them reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

The Heat Will Be On

Despite their fine seasons, both will have to claw their way through three difficult games if they want to capture the tournament championship. The rest of the league will be hungry to capture a third NCAA tournament bid for the MWC, just as San Diego State did a year ago. Let’s take a look at each of the first round games.

Game 1: BYU versus New Mexico

As long as Ruben Douglas suits up, the Lobos have a chance to pull the upset. He’s had an incredible season, but may be starting to run out of gas. This is his last hurrah as a Lobo, so look for him to try to carry his team to victory. However, that will probably wear him down defensively, and the Cougars have a pair of deadly wings that could take the game over. Even if they’re not hitting from outside, BYU’s big frontline should be able to clean up underneath against New Mexico’s weak frontcourt. This may be the biggest mismatch in the first round.

Game 2: Wyoming versus Colorado State

On the other hand, this may be the best first round matchup. Wyoming beat Colorado State by just two points in both of their previous meetings. However, the Pokes have struggled lately, losing three of their last four. They are also tired and a little banged up, with Donta Richardson bruising his knee in their last game against Utah. He should be good to go, but may not be 100 percent. The Rams have surprisingly righted a wayward ship in the last week of the season and won two of three, including a big upset of Utah in Salt Lake City. That may give them enough confidence to pull the upset and advance to the next round.

Game 3: Utah versus Air Force

This is not going to be a pretty game. In fact, that is what scares the Utes the most. The Falcons defense always plays the Utes tough, and if they can’t hit their three pointers, it will be a long afternoon. However, look for Utah to try to go inside more and draw more fouls. This will put them at the free throw line, where the Utes are deadly. On the other hand, Air Force lives and dies from the three point line, so if they can’t hit theirs either, they are done. If both teams combine for 100 points, I will be pleasantly surprised!

Game 4: UNLV versus San Diego State

This should be the most entertaining game to watch, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get sloppy at times. UNLV definitely has the edge on this one. They beat the Aztecs twice pretty handily, and the game’s on their home court. On the other hand, if they play like they usually do in big games, and make terrible decisions down the stretch, the Aztecs could make a run at another tournament championship.

Predictions

This tournament is crucial for Wyoming and UNLV, both of whom are on the NCAA bubble. Personally, I believe both teams need to reach the finals if they want any shot of making the NCAA Tournament. Of course, winning the tournament would be better but there are six other teams just as hungry in their way. UNLV has a slight advantage by playing on their home court and a slightly easier road. On the other hand, Wyoming has swept the Rebels this season, so that gives them an edge in the selection committee’s minds. However, the Cowboys have some heavy challenges ahead of them, something this team has become accustomed to during the season.

That’s enough rambling. It’s time to make my predictions for the tournament. Here I go! I look for BYU, Colorado State, Utah and UNLV to advance to the semifinals. There, BYU should be able to handle Colorado State, while UNLV will finally pull one out against the Utes. In the conference final, the Rebels will play BYU tough all game long, but the Cougars will win it at the free throw line. The good news for UNLV: a selection to the Big Dance as a 12 seed. The MWC will get its third team after all!

This Week’s Heat-Miser Award

Matt Nelson, Colorado State

30 points, 8-8 shooting, 14-19 FT, 7 rebounds versus San Diego State

The Rams big man has been consistently good all season long, but really turned it on in their win against the Aztecs. The seven-foot sophomore has a great touch, good range and decent footwork. He could be the league’s top center a year from now.

This Week’s Snow-Miser Award

Britton Johnsen, Utah

6 points, 1-6 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers versus Colorado State

Last season’s MVP suffered through one of his worst games of the season in the Utes one point loss to the Rams. Had Johnson hit just one more of those bricks, the Utes would not have had to share the conference title with BYU.

     

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.