Mountain West Notes 2-03-14
Coaches are the reason why this conference has been relevant
For years, the Mountain West has been called the most underrated conference in college basketball. Last year, the conference finished with the No. 1 Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI.
What doesn’t get talked about is how the conference has managed to stay competitive. The Mountain West doesn’t sign the best prospects in the country, and rarely does it pull kids away from the East Coast.
So, how does this conference manage to produce an abundance of NCAA tournament teams? Coaching. Every season, coaches in the Mountain West do more with less than any other coaches in Division-I basketball.
Steve Fisher has San Diego State ranked fifth in the nation after losing many intrical pieces from last years’ team. Colorado State lost their top-seven players from last year’s squad, but Larry Eustachy has surpassed every expectation for this season and the Rams are a very formidable opponent.
Stew Morrill at Utah State has done a remarkable job over the last 15 years, including 14 straight 21-win seasons. Leon Rice has turned Boise State into a threat leading the Broncos to their first ever at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Dave Rice is bar-none the best recruiter in the conference, and although UNLV hasn’t been able to put it together this year, Rice is more than capable of keeping the Rebels in contention. The verdict is still out on New Mexico’s Craig Neal.
Every conference has its share of bottom-feeders, but the aforementioned coaches make the Mountain West one of the premier conferences in all of college basketball.
1. #5 San Diego State (19-1, 8-0)
2. New Mexico (17-4, 8-1)
3. Boise State (15-7, 5-4)
4. Wyoming (14-7, 5-3)
5. UNLV (15-7, 6-3)
6. Nevada-Reno (12-10, 7-2)
7. Colorado State (12-10, 3-6)
8. Utah State (12-9, 2-7)
9. Fresno State (9-13, 2-7)
10. Air Force (9-11, 3-6)
11. San Jose State (6-16, 0-10)
Game of the Week
San Diego State travels to Boise on Wednesday in a matchup that has upset written all over it. If the Broncos are on point from behind the arc, this might be a long night for the fifth-ranked Aztecs.