State of the Mountain West College Basketball Betting Report: How to Assess Boise State, Wyoming & More
Loren Orr/Getty Images. Pictured: The Boise State Broncos.
The last week of Mountain West action saw the teams at the top finally show some cracks and open the door for a chaotic final two weeks. Now, we're set up for a high-drama conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Colorado State went to Boise State on Super Bowl Sunday and won, opening the door for the Rams to sneak out a potential conference title if they ran the table and beat Wyoming and Boise State at home. Then, CSU went to UNLV and suffered its worst loss of the season against Bryce Hamilton and the red-hot Rebels.
Boise State survived tough challenges at home from UNLV and Utah State, but it still has three tough games remaining on the schedule, including a big home game with San Diego State on Tuesday night.
Wyoming was in the conference driver's seat after winning to get to 10-1 in the league. Then, it lost in the Pit at New Mexico and has to go to Colorado State on Wednesday in a Border War rematch.
San Diego State is flying under the radar, but with road wins at Boise State and Wyoming in the next week, it would play its way back into the heart of the title race.
There are four teams in play, and the conference title could go to any one of them. Here are the conference standings, as of Monday, Feb. 21:
|San Diego State
|San Jose State
|Standings and odds as of Monday, Feb. 21. Odds via DraftKings.
All four of the conference's top four teams play one another on Tuesday and Wednesday, as Boise State hosts San Diego State on Tuesday and Colorado State hosts Wyoming on Wednesday.
Boise State and Colorado State will both be short home favorites in those games, and both of the first meetings came down to the final possessions.
San Diego State at Boise State
Date & Time: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Boise State beat SDSU, 42-37, in Viejas Arena in one of the ugliest games of the year in January.
Boise was in its fifth game in 10 days (fourth on the road), and SDSU was fresh off a two-week COVID-19 pause. Both offenses played lifelessly and flat as the defenses dominated the game. San Diego State scored one point in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Boise's Marcus Shaver hit a clutch 3 to secure the win in the final minute.
San Diego State is the more desperate team this time around and needs a quality win for its current résumé, as it's on the bubble.
Both defenses are top-10 units in the country, with SDSU ranked first in KenPom and Boise hovering around 10th in various predictive metrics. The Broncos have the more consistent offense — which isn't saying much — but SDSU guard Matt Bradley can take over any game with his ability in isolation.
You'd expect the Aztecs to have an edge on the interior, but Boise is at home and can take a huge step toward the conference title with a win on Tuesday.
Wyoming at Colorado State
Date & Time: Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
If you watch Boise State and San Diego State on Tuesday, you'll probably be desperate to see some good offense the next night.
Wyoming and Colorado State in a Border War rematch is the perfect foil for Tuesday's defensive battle. The Rams and Cowboys are separated by just 65 miles in driving distance, and the first matchup in Laramie didn't disappoint.
David Roddy had a free throw to win the game for the Rams with one second left, but he missed and the Cowboys won the game at home in overtime, 84-78.
Wyoming and Colorado State are both pretty mediocre defensively but boast the two best offenses in the Mountain West and are top-30 units nationally.
Wyoming made 43% from 3 in that game, and Colorado State shot just 30% from deep and still came within a free throw of the win. CSU already had its orange out against SDSU in a home win, but this is the biggest home game of the Rams' season and a huge rivalry revenge spot.
The Cowboys are a bit inflated in the market and have been fortunate to win all of these close games this season. Its perimeter defense has holes that can be exploited. Meanwhile, CSU has a soft interior defense at the rim that Graham Ike can effectively exploit. Hunter Maldonado is also as good of a post-up point guard as any in the country.
Two great coaches and great offenses in a rivalry with a conference title in play could make for an epic Wednesday night in Moby Arena.
If those two marquee matchups weren't enough, Boise State visits Colorado State on the final day of the regular season, and San Diego State visits Wyoming next Monday to kick off a chaotic final week.
A Potential Bid Steal From Lower in the Conference?
Besides the top four teams themselves, there's one team that is red-hot and will play a huge role in deciding the conference champion and could even play spoiler while hosting the conference tournament in Las Vegas: UNLV.
Since getting embarrassed in San Diego by 25 points on Jan. 24, the Runnin' Rebels have gotten healthier and improved dramatically. They've risen from 122nd in KenPom all the way up to 83rd.
In that time span, UNLV has beaten Colorado State twice, won at Fresno State and taken Boise State to the final minute in Boise.
The Rebels will host both Wyoming (first meeting) and Boise State (revenge spot) in the next two weeks, and if they pull off one upset, whichever team wins at UNLV would become the favorite to win this league.
We're splitting hairs at the top of the conference, but if Colorado State holds serve at home, it could get serious help from UNLV, the team that just smashed it over the weekend. And a potential San Diego State steal of a conference title could use some help from the Runnin' Rebels as well.
There are now clearly three tiers of teams in the MWC come conference tournament time. The top four will be the top four seeds, but Utah State, Fresno State and UNLV are all more than capable of pulling upsets in that potentially epic quarterfinal round.
Given the form of Hamilton and the fact that they get to host the conference tournament, it wouldn't take much for the Rebels to pull some minor upsets and steal an at-large bid. Hamilton has scored at least 17 points in 10 straight games and has dropped 30-plus in five of those 10.