MWC Bracket Prediction

Qualifying round* By Jake Runyon

-#8 Utah State vs #9 Colorado State: The Aggies first year in the MWC was a disappointment. I expected them to come in and be legitimate contenders right away. I think they’ll eventually turn the corner as they get more familiar with teams in the conference. Colorado State also had some growing pains this year. They were in complete rebuilding mode, but they had some talent with Avila, and Bejarano. If Utah State can knock down some outside shots and stretch out the CSU defense, they should win. I’m going with the Aggies, 68-62

-#7 Fresno State vs Air Force: Fresno has shown glimpses of brilliance. After a slow start to conference play, they finished the season winning 8 of their last 10. Air Force just doesn’t have enough weapons to keep up with the Bulldogs. 71-65

-#6 Boise State vs San Jose State: Remember back in October when Boise State was hovering around some preseason top 25 rankings, and the question was if this was the year Boise State broke through? Yeah, that didn’t happen. But at least for them, they have SJSU to open up the conference tournament. Boise State 72-58

*I refuse to call this the “first round”. These are play-in games to get into the real tournament.

First Round:

-#1 San Diego State vs #8 Utah State: Earlier this year, these two teams played a great game up in Logan. If Utah State plays well, they can hang with anyone in this conference. However SDSU is coming off two huge wins (@UNLV and vs UNM to win the conference). The Aztecs’ defense is too good. SDSU 68-58

-#4 UNLV vs #5 Wyoming: BDJ and Roscoe Smith will be back for UNLV. Unfortunately for Wyoming, they are not the same team since Larry Nance Jr. was injured. I will be surprised if UNLV loses this one. UNLV 72-62

-#2 New Mexico vs #7 Fresno State: San Diego State may have won the outright conference championship, but the general consensus around the league is that UNM is the best team in the conference. Kirk and Bairstow dominate in this game. UNM 74-66

-#3 UNR vs #6 Boise State: Deonte Burton has a legitimate argument for conference player of the year. He has carried the Wolfpack to a 3 seed but the MWC tournament is a different animal. I don’t think he can do it by himself. Ladies and gentleman, we have our first upset of tournament. (But is it really an upset? Do any of us actually feel like UNR is the 3rd best team in the conference?) Boise State 75-63

Second Round:

-#1 SDSU vs #4 UNLV: Call me an optimist, but I think UNLV will win this game. Why? Because Roscoe will be back. Because we won’t turn the ball over 20 times again. Because Deville and BDJ won’t combine for 1-12 shooting again. San Diego State has already punched their ticket to the tournament, so I could see them coming into the tournament flat. I honestly think UNLV will win this game. UNLV 68-62

-#2 New Mexico vs #6 Boise State: Is there a better trio than Williams, Bairstow, and Kirk in the entire conference? I’d venture to say that there aren’t many trios better than those 3 in the entire country. However, Boise State’s trio of Marks, Drmic, and Watkins can be potent. If Marks and Drmic are knocking down shots, Boise State could be unstoppable. The only problem is that I haven’t seen Boise have a game all year where both Drmic and Marks play well. UNM 80-75


#2 New Mexico vs #4 UNLV: A rematch of last year’s championship. Confession: I have never been more sad about a UNLV loss than I was after last year’s loss to UNM in the tournament. Unfortunately for Rebel fans, I expect the same result this year. New Mexico is too tough, and even though we did beat them in the Pit earlier this year, I’m beginning to think that was more of fluke than an indication of how good UNLV actually is. New Mexico 74-70


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