As Wyoming gets set to begin play in the Mountain West Tournament at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday against Air Force, it appears — and this isn’t breaking news — that the MW will again be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament.
Last year, San Diego State went 16-2 in MW play and was the top seed in the MW Tournament. It lost to Fresno State in the tournament’s championship game, and played in the NIT. Nevada won this year’s regular-season MW title, and although its RPI entering the MW Tournament is 36, the Wolf Pack seemingly has to win the tournament to get to the NCAAs.
Right, wrong or indifferent, on a national scale the MW is a mid-major conference. The days of getting multiple teams into the NCAA Tournament, let alone five not that long ago, are gone — at least until its 11 hoops-playing members win some notable nonconference games.
First-year UW coach Allen Edwards was asked about this perception Monday, and had this to say: “Sometimes the perception hurts because of the year San Diego State (sixth seed) and New Mexico (fifth seed) has had, and probably because those guys not taking down a Power 5 team. This is a well-balanced league and we’ve been beating up on each other. Sometimes that looks bad. There are teams in this league can go into the (NCAA) Tournament and get a win. Nevada is a good team. So is Colorado State, Boise State, Fresno State. … I can go down the list all the way down to us (the seventh seed in the MW Tournament). I disagree with people saying it’s down year or a one-bid league.”
I don’t disagree with Edwards’ take, but unfortunately, perception is reality when it comes to the national scale of things. Edwards also said that teams in Power 5 conferences aren’t “beating down the door” to come and play at MW schools, which is true. For the MW to get back to being multiple-bid league, it must go out and win quality nonconference games on the road, or at some of the many early-season tournaments out there. Then, those teams that do that must win or finish in the top two or three in the conference. Only then will the national perception will change.
Do you agree or disagree with this? Would love to hear your feedback.
With all that said, I think this year’s MW Tournament could be the most competitive in recent memory. I don’t see Air Force or UNLV making runs, and perhaps San Jose State is a stretch to as well, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of the other eight teams do so. Now that I say that, watch the tournament be all chalk from start to end.
I will have more from the MW Tournament as the week progresses. I will be pulling double duty covering the Cowboys and Cowgirls. The women begin tournament play Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT against either Fresno State or UNLV.