Mountain West Tournament Odds & Picks: How to Bet Boise State vs. Wyoming & Colorado State vs. San Diego State (March 11)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt bradley.
The dream of a five-bid Mountain West this year died in dramatic fashion on Thursday after all four of the league’s potential bid-stealers lost in the final minute.
Nevada took a wide-open 3 to knock out Boise State at the buzzer and make the semifinals, but it clanked off the back of the rim as the Wolf Pack lost by two.
UNLV led in the final minute against Wyoming, but a clutch 3 from Xavier DuSell propelled the Cowboys into the NCAA Tournament field and knocked out the hosting Rebels.
In the night session, Colorado State ran a stellar offensive play, and Isaiah Stevens found Chandler Jacobs underneath the basket for the game-winning layup with two seconds left to beat Utah State by two.
San Diego State and Fresno State couldn’t even get to 100 points and Fresno led at multiple points in the second half before SDSU closed on a 14-7 run to win the game by seven.
Instead, it will be a four-bid Mountain West, but given how competitive the top of the conference has been all year, both rubber matches on Friday should bring drama.
Here’s a look at both matchups after both teams in each game split the regular-season series with one another.
Boise State vs. Wyoming
The two Mountain West semis are battles of contrasting styles, as the offensive-minded Cowboys take on the defense-first Broncos.
Both teams were a bit fortunate to get to this point after UNLV and Nevada missed wide-open 3s that knocked them out of this tournament.
Boise State’s defense has taken a step backward as the season has progressed. The No. 1 key to guarding the Cowboys is guarding the post because Wyoming has one of the highest post-up frequencies in the entire country through Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado.
Wyoming surrounds that duo with excellent shooters in DuSell and Drake Jeffries.
Boise doesn’t guard the post that well, ranking just eighth in the MWC in ShotQuality defense there. It’s also eighth in the league defensively at guarding catch-and-shoot 3s, a bread-and-butter shot for the Wyoming offense.
Emmanuel Akot should be able to limit Maldonado offensively, but the Broncos will struggle to guard Ike and the shooters in this game.
At the other end of the court, Boise State’s offense is guard-dominant and has excellent shot makers with Akot and Marcus Shaver.
The Broncos have also ridden some excellent close-game luck this year and are 11-4 in those games despite being one of the worst shooting teams in the country.
If this is a close game in the final minutes, I’d still rather be the Cowboys given their free throw edge.
Pick: Wyoming +2.5
Colorado State vs. San Diego State
The Aztecs won at home in January by 30. Then, the Rams led by double-digits at home in the second half of the other game but needed a last-second shot to win after a final-minute meltdown.
The rubber match is set on a neutral court now, where the Aztecs are the slightest of favorites after opening as underdogs.
SDSU’s defense can cause matchup issues for the Rams because of its ability to dominate the middle defensively and alter CSU’s undersized guards’ attempts to get to the rim.
Nathan Mensah is one of the best interior defenders in the country, and the Aztecs bring the No. 1 KenPom defense into this game. SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher has had a lot of success in defending the floor spacing and driving offense of Niko Medved in the past.
The first meeting isn’t exactly indicative of a ton because the Aztecs made over 50% from 3 and Colorado State had its worst shooting game of the year off of its COVID-19 pause in early January.
The Rams are a bit inflated based on their close game record. CSU is 9-1 in close games — sixth-best in the country — and rank third in the luck rating. The Rams have executed at a high level in tight situations down the stretch, but the Aztecs’ size, defense and switchability is enough for them to win this game.
San Diego State should be able to control the pace of the game, and the Rams don’t really have a good counter for guarding Matt Bradley. Bradley had one of his best games of the season in the first meeting because he’s too big for CSU’s smaller guards or someone like John Tonje and he’s too fast for someone like David Roddy.
While Dutcher can switch every Medved ball screen, the Rams will struggle to guard Bradley in isolation.
Colorado State’s offense might be the best at posting up and finishing at the rim in the league, but SDSU’s defense is one of the best in the country.
The Aztecs’ interior edge and perimeter length should take down the Rams here.
Pick: San Diego State -1