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Undefeated Boise State leads a loaded Mountain West

Four Mountain West teams have established themselves as legitimate NCAA Tournament teams.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado State at Wyoming
Wyoming senior guard Hunter Maldonado netted a career-high 35 points in the Cowboys’ overtime victory against Colorado State.
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Mountain West has a good chance at being a multi-bid league this year, but predicting the actual number of bids is a difficult task.

It’s a deep conference in which any team can win on any given night. There are currently four teams appearing on NCAA Tournament bracketology projections: Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State and Wyoming. Here is a look at how they are doing.

Boise State (17-4, 8-0 MW)

Boise State has yet to lose a game in conference play. The Broncos are riding a 14-game winning streak, but this doesn’t mean they are untouchable. Their last three games have been quite interesting.

The Broncos’ win against San Diego State on Jan. 20 was a low-scoring 42-37 affair. Both teams have top-10 scoring defenses, but they both also shot poorly that night. With the game knotted at 37, Broncos redshirt senior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. hit the eventual game-winning 3-pointer with 30 seconds left. He has proven to be very reliable in clutch situations. That was his second straight one as he also buried the game-winning triple against Utah State two days earlier.

The Broncos’ home game against Wyoming on Jan. 25 featured the last two undefeated teams in the MW. Boise State picked up the 65-62 victory. Three days later, Fresno State gave the Boise State a run for its money. Shaver delivered in the biggest moment again. He hit the game-tying 3-pointer with one second left in regulation to force overtime. Boise State walked away with a 68-63 win.

Wyoming (17-3, 6-1 MW)

The Cowboys get another shot at Boise State on Thursday, and this time they will have the home-court advantage. It won’t be easy, but they certainly could pull it off. Wyoming is carrying the momentum of an overtime victory against the preseason favorite Colorado State. The Wyoming student section stormed the court after that one.

Senior guard Hunter Maldonado has been outstanding. He hit the buzzer-beater against Air Force on Friday along with 31 points for a 63-61 win. He followed that with a career-high 35 points to beat the Rams. Maldonado and sophomore forward Graham Ike are each averaging almost 20 points per game.

Head coach Jeff Linder is in his second season at the helm of the program and already showing promising results.

Colorado State (16-3, 6-3 MW)

Colorado State was one of the last undefeated teams in the nation and won its first 11 games before losing to San Diego State 79-49 on Jan. 8. It certainly hurt them, but they bounced back with five straight wins by beating Utah State, San Jose State, New Mexico, Air Force and Nevada. The streak was broken with an 88-74 loss to UNLV last Friday, but it was a 22-lead at one point for the Rebels.

The Rams have now lost two straight after falling at Wyoming in overtime Monday. Niko Medved’s team has a chance to bounce back and avenge its loss against San Diego State Friday.

The Rams have the top offense in the MW at 78.3 points per game. Junior forward David Roddy leads the team with 18.6 points per game while shooting at 56.9% from the field. He also leads in rebounding (7.7) and blocks (1.0). Junior guard Isaiah Stevens, who was recently named to the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List, is second on the team in scoring at 16.3 point per game.

San Diego State (12-5, 4-2 MW)

The Aztecs have been up and down so far this season. They seemed to have cemented themselves as one of the Mountain West’s top teams with their 30-point win against Colorado State early on in conference play. However, San Diego State scored just 37 points in as loss to Boise State and was outscored by 18 points against a middle-of-the-road Utah State team.

The SDSU offense has had some struggles during conference play. The Aztecs are averaging 64.6 points per game, which puts them 10th out of 11 teams. Senior guard Matt Bradley is the only player averaging double figures at 16.0 points per game.

On the flip side, the defense carried the Aztecs. SDSU leads the MW by giving up just 56.8 points per contest, which is fourth-best in the country. It limited New Mexico to 47 points in a dominant 25-point victory at home on Monday. Senior forward Nathan Mensah leads the MW in blocks averaging 2.4 per game.

The Rest:

The Mountain West is unpredictable, so one cannot count out the other seven teams.

Fresno State (4-3 MW) ranks fifth in the conference standings. It has the fifth-best scoring defense (58.3 points per game) in the nation, one spot behind SDSU and one ahead of Boise State.

The Bulldogs’ offense counts with Orlando Robinson who is averaging over 19 points per game and shooting better than 50% from the field. Fresno State could be Mid-Major Madness’ ticket to a Bar Coastal scholarship.

Utah State is currently below .500 in the conference at 3-5 but can challenge the conference’s best. The Aggies staged an 18-point victory over San Diego State. They also have had close losses against Colorado State (77-72), Wyoming (71-69) and Boise State (62-59). Senior forward Justin Bean is one of the top players in the MW, and is averaging a near double-double with 18.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Even the teams at the bottom can’t be taken lightly. New Mexico (1-8 MW) is an inexperienced team in the process of rebuilding with a decimated front court, but that hasn’t stopped the Lobos from keeping things entertaining. They lost at Colorado State by just six points and fell to Wyoming 93-91.