The Mountain West Conference Tournament begins at Pepsi Center
in Denver March 11. With the seeds almost locked in, we thought it
a good idea to break away from the usual capsules. In honor of the
tourney’s move from Vegas to Denver, I am going to explain the
upcoming tournament through the Vegas classic “Ocean’s 11.”
“You’re either in or you’re out, right now.”
The Mountain West likely will have two or three teams in the
NCAA Tournament. The winner of the conference tournament gets an
automatic bid. Air Force, Utah and Brigham Young all have shots to
get at-large bids. However, no team in the conference has locked an
at-large bid, so winning in the conference tournament has become
even more important.
“Is that your hound way in the rear there?”
“He breaks late, everyone knows this.”
Ah, our beloved Rams, can they do it again? Last year, CSU lost
seven straight conference games in February, only to break late,
get healthy, win a couple at the end and then stun everybody by
winning the conference tournament.
Saturday’s loss to Wyoming gave the Rams their seventh straight
conference loss and assured them the No. 8 seed in the tourney. CSU
will play No. 1 Air Force in the first round. However, the eighth
position probably bodes better for the Rams, who have played Air
Force much better than BYU and Utah. CSU should be healthy, and a
first round shocker could give the Rams enough confidence to
“We’ve played Air Force pretty good,” freshman point guard
Dwight Boatner said. “We’re confident that we could beat anybody in
the conference so we’re just going to try and win this last game
(against New Mexico) and go in with some momentum.”
Wyoming’s Joe Rottinghaus, who torched the Rams with the 3-ball
Saturday, said he believes the ‘Pokes can pull off what the Rams
did last year. I wouldn’t totally discount the Wyos, but a first
round matchup against BYU (19-7, 9-4 MWC) or Utah (20-8, 8-5) will
be a tall task for a mistake-prone team.
“Because the house always wins … unless when that perfect hand
comes along you bet big and then you take the house.”
The Air Force Falcons have bet big on head coach Joe Scott’s
system this season, and it just might be the perfect hand for a
traditionally terrible team. The Falcons (21-5, 11-2) have
perennially been bottom feeders in the MWC, never winning more than
four games in the conference.
With Monday’s 61-49 drubbing of San Diego State, Air Force
clinched the No. 1 seed. The Falcons own four of the nine
conference-road wins in the Mountain West this season.
I believe the Air Force should get into the NCAA no matter what
happens in the tournament, but a first-round loss to our Rams may
spell NIT for the Falcons.
“Guys, guys check it out – all reds!”
The three red-colored teams in the middle of the MWC pack – San
Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico – have about the same chance of
making it to the Big Dance as Topher Grace has of winning at
However, UNLV (16-10, 7-6) has the most athletic team in the
conference, SDSU (14-14, 5-8) has the best backcourt in the
conference and New Mexico (14-12, 5-8) has arguably the best player
in the conference in forward Danny Granger. Maybe the move to Pepsi
Center will help UNLV because the pressure of winning at home will
“I think you’d dig Provo, I think you could do very well
Brigham Young has certainly done very well in Provo this season.
The Cougars knocked off archrival Utah 70-57 on Big Monday,
finishing off a perfect season at home.
However, BYU has been a sub-par 4-7 away from the Marriott
Center this season. They better hope the Pepsi Center feels a
little like home. A possible second-round match up against the Utes
could determine if BYU gets into the tourney.
Oh, and by the way Ram fans, no more “dirty Mormon” chants, it
doesn’t even make sense (hippies are dirty).
“What, you really didn’t think I’d sit this one out, did
Well, long-time Utes head coach Rick Majerus will sit this one
out, but the Utah Utes certainly won’t.
Majerus left the team on Jan. 28 with heart problems and decided
a few weeks later to call it a career. The Utes may have been hurt
by Rick’s departure, but interim head coach Kerry Rupp has Utah
playing well. Plus, Utah now has the “win it for Rick” thing going
for them, which could carry them to the field of 65. Watch out if
Nick Jacobsen gets hot.
Vince would like to thank former Collegian sports reporter Reed
Saunders for explaining previous Rams teams through classic