A day after the so called "Biggest Game in Mountain West History," we are left to ponder who is in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and who played them selves out.
The Locks: BYU, San Diego State and UNLV
BYU: With BYU's impressive win over San Diego St. yesterday, the Cougars are now in the drivers seat to win the Mountain West regular season title. This win also gives them the luxury of not meeting UNLV in the second round of the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.
Yes, the Cougars have beat UNLV pretty handily twice this past year, but whenever you play UNLV on its home court, there is always a reasonable chance you could lose.
This is important to BYU because I think that all BYU has to do to lock up a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance is just make it to the MWC tournament final. They own a record of 26-2 and have Jimmer Mania on their side. Their R.P.I. stands at No. 1 as of today with a strength of schedule of of 10, these factors create no doubt that BYU deserves a No. 1 seed.
SDSU: In San Diego State's case, I feel as long as they close out the MWC regular season strong and win at least one game in the MWC tournament, they should be a guaranteed second seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Aztecs own a record of 25-2, and a R.P.I. of four. Comparing records and stats with the other teams vying for a top two seed in the tourney, SDSU more than stacks up against them.
UNLV: Before entering its stretch run of their past three games, the Rebels of UNLV seemed to be on a bubble that was ready to burst. Shooting woes were plaguing the team, and their overall confidence levels were low. Then the Rebels came back to life, looking like the team who started out the year 9-0.
First, they won a big game at Colorado State, setting UNLV ahead of the Rams for the third seed in the Mountain West. Then the Rebels went into the Pit and won an overtime thriller against New Mexico, playing solid throughout. Lastly, the Rebels went out in style on Senior Night and their last home game of the season, cruising past Wyoming and looking like they're ready to make a strong postseason run.
With a record of 22-7, an R.P.I. of 26 and a strength of schedule of 37, UNLV should find themselves anywhere from a No. 5 to No. 8 seed, depending how well they do in the MWC tournament.
On the bubble: Colorado State
Colorado State: Even though the Rams suffered a big loss at home against UNLV last week, their tournament chances still looked good.
With the soft bubble this year all they had to do is finish out the rest of the games on their slate and they would be dancing for the first time since 2003.
Instead the Rams went out and got beat by Air Force 57-74 all but ending any hope they had to feel confident about making Big Dance going in to the MWC tournament. Their only chance is to win the Mountain West tournament, or pray for a few other bubble teams to lose more than once a piece.