So grab your favorite flavor – for me it’s an Eight O’ Clock K-Cup this morning – and we’ll delve into the Mountain West Conference races as they stand today and where they might be headed.
First let’s start with the Women.
Colorado State has moved to the top of the standings at 8-2 after their latest pair of victories at Boise State. The closest contenders are Fresno State at 7-3, UNLV at 6-3, and New Mexico at 4-2.
The Women’s race has been complicated by the opting out from the season by San Jose State who played three games that count in the standings. It has also been complicated by pauses, especially at New Mexico, which has led to scheduling complications.
The MW brass recently published a revised schedule for the rest of the regular season with the hopes of creating as level a regular season competition as possible. It involves New Mexico, who cannot play games in Albuquerque due to local COVID restrictions, playing the rest of their scheduled home games on the road rather than at Amarillo, TX. That means that Colorado State gets two games in Fort Collins vs New Mexico, rather than having to travel. And because of schedule compression, several games have not been rescheduled including a pair between New Mexico and Boise State.
If you want to see all the revisions, you can visit themw.com.
The implications are massive as they relate to the regular season title and post-season tournament seeding.
CSU has already split on the road with Fresno State and UNLV. By getting to play at home against New Mexico, they save on some travel wear and tear and gain home court advantage over New Mexico, maybe not as large due to lack of crowds but certainly a factor.
Having already had two home games cancelled due to San Jose State opting out, that is potentially huge in the Rams’ quest for a regular season championship. Still 8 games remaining, including a pair vs rival Wyoming this week, but they are clearly in the driver’s seat as it stands.
And now the Men’s Race…
The regular season is still up for grabs with Boise at 10-1, Utah State at 10-2, CSU at 9-3, and San Diego State at 7-3.
The CSU-BSU split this past week was massive for both teams. A sweep by either side would have put a lot of pressure on the loser and positioned the winner well.
Boise still has the meat of their schedule ahead of them, with a home pair vs Utah State and a season ending pair away at San Diego State. Technically Boise controls their own destiny but I’m not sure I’d want my destiny to conclude on the floor of Viejas. Boise also still has a pair of games with Nevada and UNLV, games that they will be favored to win but could prove dangerous.
Utah State dropped a tough road game at UNLV that muddied things a bit for them. They have the aforementioned pair at Boise that will be massive. They do get Nevada at home. The scheduling gods really worked in favor of the Aggies as they drew three off the top 4 in the league at home. An advantage not just because of homecourt familiarity but because they are allowing limited attendance in Logan.
San Diego State played the difficult part of their schedule already and now face the bottom feeders. They will be favored by large margins in every game until the final two-gamer at home to Boise State. I think its safe to assume they will be still at only 3 losses when they play the Broncos.
Now on to the Rams.
A win in the second game over Boise State would have left the Rams in the driver’s seat. But that’s water under the bridge as they still are well-positioned to finish at the top of the table. It wont be easy as they have a pair of road series in Laramie and Reno. Both Wyoming and Nevada are young, improving, and solid on their homecourts. Wyoming will be allowing limited attendance starting this week; some of them will be Ram fans hungry to see their team. Sweep those two series and the Rams are well positioned to close out the season as the other 4 games are at home against bottom feeders New Mexico and Air Force.
A couple of things to keep an eye on. Scheduling quirks caused by COVID.
San Diego State had their games at UNLV “postponed” because of COVID. They have not been re-scheduled yet. There technically is time to play those games after the currently planned end to the regular season but you never know.
And Boise State had the second game of their pair with Fresno State postponed due to a false positive test. Unless that game is re-scheduled, Boise is on track to finish with only 19 conference games under their belt, not 20 (or even potentially 18 by San Diego State). Unequal number of games will affect win percentages and could cost a team a regular season crown.
So there you have it as we enter the final month of the Mountain West regular season.
What say you Ram fans?
Can the Rams close the season on big winning streaks?
Can both the Women and the Men emerge as MWC Champs?