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March 6, 2012

Mountain West Tournament preview



March has finally rolled around and there is one succinct smell in the air: madness.
However, before the NCAA tournament commences, conference championships are
in play this week and the Boise State Broncos head to Las Vegas, Nev. for the 2012
CONOCO Mountain West men's basketball championship.

It's been a bit of a bumpy ride for the Broncos in conference play this year, making
the jump from the Western Athletic Conference to the WAC. Though, with their run
to the WAC finals last year, anything can happen for the boys in blue.

Here is a preview of what's in store for the MW tourney this coming up week:

Favorite: No. 3 UNLV (25-7, 9-5 in MW) I understand that both San Diego State
and New Mexico rank above the Rebels at No. 1 and 2, respectively but there are
key factors for UNLV to win it all. First off, the Rebels did not lose a SINGLE game
at home this year, touting a 16-0 record at Thomas & Mack Center, where the
tournament will be held. Yes, they lost to SDSU by two in the semi-finals last year,
but the Rebels look for vengeance here. Second, senior guard Chace Stanback (14.0
ppg) will state UNLV's case, with their 20th nationally ranked offense in his last
hurrah, helped by sophomore forward Mike Moser (14.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg).

Dark horse: No. 4 Colorado State (19-10, 8-6) The thing to like about the Rams in
this tournament is that they win where it counts most. Coming down the final five
game stretch of the regular season, Colorado State beat Top 25 ranked New Mexico
and UNLV by at least a six-point margin and went 4-1 in that stretch. Starting off the
tournament against an alright No. 5 TCU, then to face the winner of the BSU/SDSU
game puts the Rams in pretty good position. If junior guard Wes Eikmeier (16.0 ppg)
gets hot early and shoots above a .400 from the field, consider Colorado State in
premier contention.

The most to lose: No. 2 New Mexico (24-6, 10-4) This New Mexico team starting
off hot, losing back-to-back games to UNLV and SDSU, winning seven straight,
then losing back-to-back cough up games to CSU and TCU makes for an interesting
season. However, the Lobos are looking to make a statement for decent NCAA
tournament seeding with their brief Top 25 stint. They've breezed by No. 7 Air Force
in both games this season, but the issue will be facing No. 3 UNLV (I'm betting on it).
They lost by 17 on the road to the Rebels. If they lose, they might be the highest seed
coming out of the Mountain West for the big dance.

Where Boise State stands: It's hard to say with a straight face that the Broncos
will defeat the Aztecs in the first round, a team who has outscored Boise State 124-
109 this season. However, we've witnessed a little tournament magic as the Broncos
made it to the WAC finals last year. Different conference and waaaay different
opponents, I say Boise State loses 62-56 and heads to the CollegeInsider.com
tournament.


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