The reigning Mountain West Champs,SDSU, look for a repeat performance in 2011
Coming into the semifinal round of the 2011 Mountain West Conference Tournament the UNLV Rebels and the BYU Cougars are both looking to gain their first wins of the season against their respected opponents.
With the teams going in opposite directions late in the year, both teams are out with revenge on their minds
Here's a look at my predictions for the semifinal round of the 2011 Mountain West Tournament.
First off we have the BYU Cougars vs. the New Mexico Lobos.
New Mexico have owned BYU this year winning at home 86-77, and at the Marriott Center in BYU's first game without their star big-man Brandon Davies, in a 82-64 thumping.
The Lobos team is a matchup nightmare for the Cougars.
Drew Gordon down in the paint is going to be a big difference in the game, as he was earlier this month in Provo. Gordon had 15 points and 16 huge rebounds in the game.
BYU is going to have another tough night against New Mexico's big men which will lead to less second-chance-points, and less scoring opportunities for players other than Jimmer Fredette. Yes, Jimmer will get his. Look for Mr. Fredette to have a 30-plus point game.
Dairese Gary, the Lobos point guard, is a threat.
Named a MWC All-First-Team selection, he is someone the Cougars need to worry about on the outside, fading away focus on the big men down low.
Look for this game to be closer than the 18 point drumming the last time these two teams met, but look for New Mexico to come out on top again.
Prediction: No. 5 New Mexico Lobos: 81, No. 1 BYU Cougars: 77
Dogfights. That's one word that sums up the two previous meetings this year between UNLV and SDSU. Both games have been gritty, physical games.
UNLV has had opportunities in both meetings to take home a win, but the major shooting slump that they were in for both of the regular season matchups ultimately did the Rebels in, losing by six both times.
This time however, should be different. The Rebels are coming in off of a six-game win streak in which they have put an end to that pesky shooting slump they were in for much of conference play.
In their quarterfinal game against Air Force, UNLV went 24-48 from the field for an even 50 percent mark, and an impressive 55 percent from beyond the arch, going 11 of 20.
SDSU's advantage all year against teams has been the play of their forwards, Malcom Thomas and Kawhi Leonard down in the paint.
They are rebounding machines and can put up points.
UNLV's big men have made constant improvement all year and are now a crucial part of what UNLV does on both ends of the floor.
Look for Quintrell Thomas play a big role in banging against Thomas and Leonard, giving SDSU one less advantage in the game.
UNLV is poised for redemption, and should grind out a win.
Prediction: No.1 SDSU Aztecs: 71, No. 3 UNLV Rebels: 79
Championship Round Prediction: No. 5 New Mexico Lobos vs No.3 UNLV Rebels