The Mountain West Conference got the respect it deserved this Selection Sunday.
Now it will be up to these teams to honor the committee’s actions by performing well in the NCAA tournament.
Five MWC teams got NCAA postseason bids, including Boise State with an opportunity in the First Four. The conference secured more at-large bids than both the ACC and SEC, a huge victory in itself for a mid-major conference.
Now comes the hard part. The conference’s representatives need a couple of Sweet 16 appearances, at worst, to truly justify their five bids.
Here are the three MWC teams with the best chance to do that.
New Mexico Lobos, No. 3 Seed
The Lobos come into the NCAA tournament as one of the best teams that nobody knows about, but they didn’t get a No. 3 seed without earning it.
Steve Alford’s team won dual MWC titles to close out the season, all while playing the country’s second-toughest schedule. Not to mention, there was talk about this team getting a No. 2 seed. Could they actually be underrated?
Tony Snell and Co. should have no trouble taking care of business up until the Sweet 16; from there on out, they are playing with house money.
UNLV Rebels, No. 5 Seed
The Rebels may have the most talent of any team in the conference, but it’s uncertain whether they can put it all together.
Anthony Bennett is a surefire top-10 pick in the NBA draft, while Mike Moser will likely get drafted as well—but, two potential pros doesn’t equal wins. For example, the Runnin’ Rebels were bested by New Mexico in the MWC tournament final.
A first-round matchup with a familiar foe, the California Golden Bears, should be comforting for UNLV fans. They beat California on a last-second shot this past December.
Colorado State Rams, No. 8 Seed
There’s hardly any team in the country that rebounds like the Rams do. Larry Eustachy’s group hounds the glass and is one of the most blue-collar teams in college basketball.
The numbers don’t lie either. The Rams sport top-30 marks in the RPI and BPI rankings—additionally, they have numerous seniors on the roster. If the Rams can get past a tough rebounding Missouri team, they’ll pose a threat to taking down Louisville in the round of 32.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.
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