Skip to content

2013 Mountain West Conference tournament preview

Mar 11, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

Kendal Williams, Larry Gilmore Jr. AP

Before the season began much was made of the talented newcomers at both UNLV and San Diego State, with both teams predicted to not only rise to the top of the Mountain West but also make a splash nationally. Yet once the Mountain West season played out the answer to the question of best team in the conference was a simple one: New Mexico.

Steve Alford’s team won the conference by two full games, with point guard Kendall Williams and center Alex Kirk being two primary figures. Colorado State won 11 conference games and finished second in Larry Eustachy’s first year in Fort Collins. This group, unlike last season’s NCAA tournament team, has size in the form of 7-footer Colton Iverson and with him in the middle the Rams punished teams on the glass consistently.

UNLV has plenty of talent, led by Anthony Bennett, but they haven’t always looked like a cohesive unit on the floor. SDSU’s biggest concern is the health of point guard Xavier Thames, who’s been dealing with back issues for much of the season. But even with Thames’ issues the Aztecs still have one of the league’s best players in Jamaal Franklin.

SDSU’s quarterfinal against Boise State may be the biggest game of the entire weekend, as both could use another resume-building victory (or two). It can be argued that up to six teams are capable of winning the Mountain West tournament (Air Force being the sixth), and that should make for an exciting weekend in Las Vegas.

The Bracket (.pdf file)

Where: Las Vegas (Thomas & Mack Center)

When: March 12th-March 16th

Final: March 16, 6 p.m. CBS

Favorite: New Mexico

Given New Mexico’s two-game margin it’s difficult to put any other team in this spot. Williams and Kirk have been outstanding, and while Tony Snell’s always been a factor offensively the junior’s improved on the defensive end of the floor. Add in Hugh Greenwood and Jamal Fenton and the Lobos have more than enough depth on the perimeter. Cameron Bairstow starts alongside Kirk inside, and senior wing Chad Adams give UNM a versatile defender off the bench.

And if they lose?: Colorado State

Don’t expect UNM to fall to the Wyoming/Nevada winner in the quarters but a loss to either San Diego State or Boise State in the semis is more than possible. If the Lobos are to go down Colorado State would be the team to watch. The Rams lost at UNLV by just two points and of the top five seeds they’re the only one to win at Air Force. In addition to Iverson in the front court CSU has Greg Smith and Pierce Hornung, two tough veterans who help CSU in a variety of areas.

Other contenders: UNLV’s home court advantage, especially when the Runnin’ Rebels have it rolling, cannot be ignored. Anthony Marshall leads the conference in assists but at times it seems as if there are too many offensive options on the floor. SDSU’s hopes hinge on the back of Thames; if he’s healthy and can manage the quick turnarounds the Aztecs can win the tournament.

Sleeper: Boise State

Armed with wins over Creighton, UNLV and San Diego State, the Broncos may need one more win to feel comfortable in regards to their NCAA tournament hopes. Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks are both threats to go for 30 points or more on any given night, and Jeff Elorriaga is an excellent three-point shooter. If Boise State takes care of the basketball (7th in the Mountain West in assist-to-turnover ratio) look out.

Deeper sleepers: Air Force is the team to watch here. Dave Pilipovich’s team will end up in the NIT at the very least, with senior guard Michael Lyons leading the way. Lyons dropped 45 on Colorado State in a close loss to the Rams in Colorado Springs, and in the regular season finale he scored 30 to help lead Air Force past New Mexico.

Studs:

- G Kendall Williams (New Mexico): The Mountain West Player of the Year race looks to be wide-open and Williams is one of the players under consideration. He scored 46 in New Mexico’s win at Colorado State last month.

- F Anthony Bennett (UNLV): Bennett has the build of a pro right now, and he’s extremely difficult to stop in the paint.

- G/F Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State): Last year’s Mountain West Player of the Year is averaging 17.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on the season, and he’s the only player in the Mountain West to be ranked in the top three in both categories.

- C Colton Iverson (Colorado State): The Minnesota transfer averaged a double-double (14.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg) in conference play, the lone Mountain West player to do so.

- G Michael Lyons (Air Force): Lyons averaged 17.6 points per game on 47.3% shooting, doing so despite being the first line of any opponents’ scouting report.

Prediction: Look for some entertaining finishes, with Air Force being an upset possibility in the quarterfinals. But in the end New Mexico will repeat as tournament champions, knocking off Colorado State. 

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Illinois declares home floor fit for play following flooding issue

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM EDT

    Twitter/IlliniHoops Twitter/IlliniHoops

    Quick action by construction workers ensured that it was declared ready for play two days after being flooded.

  2. Officiating controversy results in multiple suspensions

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:41 PM EDT

    Chris Collins, Bo Boroski Chris Collins, Bo Boroski

    Some officials are in hot water after compromising a system used by 20 different Division I conferences.

  3. Canadian forward/center verbally commits to Saint Louis

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:58 PM EDT

    crews AP

    Saint Louis adds more depth to its front court with this verbal commitment.

  4. Transfer center will sit out upcoming season at Florida

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:26 PM EDT

    John Egbunu, Austin Nichols, David Pellom John Egbunu, Austin Nichols, David Pellom

    John Egbunu was an American Athletic Conference All-Freshman Team selection at USF last season.

  5. VCU’s Treveon Graham: From lightly recruited to leader of Havoc, the Atlantic 10 favorites

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year is looking to lead VCU deep into March.

  6. Canisius to be without two forwards due to ankle injury, suspension

    Oct 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Jim Baron Jim Baron

    The Golden Griffins have to account for the loss of four starters from last season’s 21-win team.

  7. Kentucky, Xavier among those participating in #Layup4Lauren challenge (VIDEOS)

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 4.03.04 PM

    Feel free to take this as my challenge to you all.

  8. Top 25 Countdown: No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    marcus paige Getty Images

    North Carolina should be a national title contender, but they do have some question marks.

  9. Dayton’s Elite 8 run, Archie Miller’s decision to stay help continue Atlantic 10’s success

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dayton head coach Archie Miller spurned high-major programs to remain at Atlantic 10. He’s not the only one in the league happy with where they are.

  10. Assigned Reading: Devonta Pollard opens up about the kidnapping he was involved in

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    NIT Northeastern Alabama AP

    Pollard is looking to reignite his career at Houston this season.

  11. 2014-2015 Season Preview: Treveon Graham, VCU enter as favorites in the Atlantic 10

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Atlantic 10 is out to gain respect again this season from the rest of the college basketball world, a year after the league saw a record six teams selected for the NCAA tournament with one team reaching the Elite 8.

  12. 2014-15 Season Preview: Jahlil Okafor, Frank Kaminsky lead a strong crop of big men

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo) Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)

    The list of big men dominating college basketball this season is solid.

  13. Former Georgia Tech head coach recuses self from Syracuse’s NCAA hearing

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    bobby-cremins AP

    Bobby Cremins says that his relationships with other coaches has led to his having to recuse himself from other cases in the past.

  14. Transfer guard dismissed from Minnesota program

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT

    Zach Lofton, Zach Lofton,

    Zach Lofton was expected to develop into a more efficient player during his year sitting out per NCAA transfer rules.

  15. Long Beach State, head coach Dan Monson agree to contract extension

    Oct 29, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Dan Monson AP

    Monson is four wins away from becoming Long Beach State’s winningest coach.

  16. Buffalo-area programs to wear special jerseys for Big 4 Basketball Classic

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    Big 4 Basketball Classic Big 4 Basketball Classic

    Buffalo, Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure will wear Buffalo Braves-inspired uniforms for their doubleheader November 29.

  17. ACC releases its preseason media poll, all-conference team

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    AP AP

    North Carolina’s Marcus Paige was the media pick to win ACC Player of the Year.