Mountain West surviving self-made gauntlet

Mountain West surviving self-made gauntlet

As it relates to the Lobos Men’s Basketball program and first-year head coach Richard Pitino, the timing could not be much worse.

As it relates to the Mountain West’s standing within college basketball, the timing could not be much better. 

With just under five weeks left in the regular season, there are five Mountain West teams in the top 50 of the NET rankings (San Diego State is swinging back and forth between #50 and 51). 

Fans, followers and skeptics have their own thoughts about how many Mountain West teams will make the NCAA tournaments. The last group feels like it is destined to be a one-bid league, with the conference tournament winner all by itself at the big dance. 

For now, the NET rankings are here to tell us otherwise. As the league’s top teams beat each other up, the results are being viewed as a sign of strength, rather than weakness. 

With so much attention at the top of college basketball, the Mountain West has positioned itself to stay in the picture and try to fight off the “mid-major” stigma. 

The conference has been the beneficiary of transfers like few, if any, others in college basketball. Highly-respected coaches such as Brian Dutcher (SDSU), Niko Medved (CSU), Kevin Kurger (UNLV) and others have found ways to make them successful and quickly help the team. 

And even fully entrenched in the social media age as we are, live sports on television still reigns supreme, and the Mountain West has received excellent national exposure this year. With TV contracts with CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports 1, there is no shortage of league games to watch. Fans of the conference, college basketball fans in this part of the country and gamblers in the east all have exciting basketball to watch several nights a week. 

Ease of access helps an entity stay in the forefront. The quality and excitement helps too.

Those viewers know that, for the most part, they are getting games with plenty of parody. At some point this season, all 11 teams have shown that they could win or lose to any opponent on any given night. 

San Diego State is a prime example. Going into their game on Monday, January 31, here are the results from their last four contests:

SDSU 79 #20 Colorado State 49 (a game that put together with very little notice because of COVID)

BOISE STATE 42 SDSU 37 (a football score on a good offensive day or bad defensive day)

SDSU 80 UNLV 55 

Utah State 75 SDSU 57

In the world of live sports equaling live entertainment, this Mountain West season fits that bill. 

It also helps a conference like the Mountain West that the Big 12 (a power five league) is having a similar season. Iowa State has Colorado State’s old #20 spot. The Cyclones are 3-5 in Big 12 play, and sit seventh in the conference standings. 

College basketball’s decision makers are looking beyond wins and losses, as it should be. The Mountain West is getting rewarded for its hard work.