Feb 252003
 
Authors: Luke Cornish

The time has come for teams to desperately try to climb the conference ladder with hopes that the seed they are given will prove to be their lucky number.

The seeding used in the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball tournament starting on March 12 will be crucial.

The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to take part in the NCAA Tournament. According to CollegeRPI.com, there are five Mountain West teams with an RPI that puts them in the top 64 in the country.

Unfortunately, the only sure way to get there is by winning the Mountain West Tournament, and the best way to do that is to be ranked the highest. Where the teams are positioned now:

Utah

The Utes continue to have a remarkable season, which has seen them go 10-1 in conference play. Their one loss came at the hands of the Rams when they visited Moby Arena at the beginning of the month. The Utes are ranked No. 20 in the country according to their RPI.

Their 10-1 record gives the Utes at least a share of the regular season conference championship and, because of their overall record, a No. 1 seed going into the conference tournament.

This is the third time that Utah has won the MWC regular season championship in the four years that it has been around.

Brigham Young

Chasing the Utes’ heels are the defending MWC Tournament champion-BYU. The Cougars, who are 7-4 in the conference, travel Friday to Utah to play in a game that will decide if the Utes stay alone at the top or prolong the possibility of BYU snagging a share of the conference silverware.

The Cougars were seeded No. 3 last year and could get that same seed as they finish their season with three road games. New Mexico is breathing down their necks.

Either way, the Cougars are likely to make it to the NCAA tournament with their RPI ranking placing them 46th in the country.

New Mexico

The Lobos look in prime position to take away BYU’s No. 2 seed. They have a 6-4 record in the conference and are traveling to play San Diego State and UNLV, teams that have not had much success in conference play this season.

New Mexico’s home games come against Utah and Brigham Young, and if it is successful against these two powerhouses, not only would it give the Lobos a No. 2 seed, but also the momentum that could carry them through the tournament. The Lobos are averaging 10,540 fans in attendance at their home games in “The Pit.”

New Mexico’s RPI puts them 38th in the country.

Wyoming

Wyoming travels to Fort Collins to play the Rams next. With their 6-5 record and middle-of-the-table position, the Cowboys could easily move up or down. Only time will tell what seed they pull in.

Their RPI puts them at No. 55, so they need this tournament if they want to be sure of playing extra ball.

UNLV

The rebels will have the advantage of hosting the tournament for the third – and last – time before it moves to Denver. UNLV has a 5-5 record and could overtake the Cowgirls or be overtaken by the Rams.

San Diego State

The Aztecs are struggling. They are 2-8 in the conference and have been used as every team’s punching bag. SDSU beat the Rams earlier this season, however, for one of their two league victories.

Air Force

Despite having one of the most exciting players in the conference, by the name of Latoya Howell, the Falcons have had another disappointing season. At 1-9, the Falcons just fighting to get out of the basement.

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