The headline of this article refers to the BRUTAL game after game battles that will occur in the Mountain West Conference. Case in point, #15 San Diego State lost to UNLV by seven at home and by thirteen on the road to Wyoming this week. Heavy favorites in both games, SDSU's results prove one thing... the MWC is an extremely difficult league top-to-bottom and will be more than deserving of the multiple bids to the NCAA tournament.
Boise State fared as well as SDSU losing to #19 New Mexico in a heart breaker and Air Force on the road. It is important to remember, however, that five or six MWC teams will be selected for the NCAA Tournament. This means that a team that finishes 9-9 in MWC league play (or worse) will make it. Yes, it would have been great to execute and take both wins this week, but in the end, Boise State is still positioned well for the postseason. Luckily, a respectable non-conference schedule and that win over Creighton has given BSU a little leeway moving forward... A pretty rare thing for the basketball team.
Well, both losses last week shined the light on something that hasn't burned Boise State up until now... DEPTH. Post depth is always an issue. With Kenny Buckner finishing up his three game suspension, post depth was non-existent. Jeff Elorriaga missed Saturday's game due to a concussion and Air Force took advantage scoring a team-record for a MWC game of 91 points (coming off a 40 point snoozer vs. Colorado State).
Air Force isn't a horrible team; though, Boise State most certainly allowed them to play better than they are. New Mexico, on the other hand, is a great team. On a radio show this week, Coach Rice explained that his players needed to rebound from the New Mexico game and play A+ basketball in Colorado Springs. He couldn't have been more right. Losses will happen in league play and the teams that are able to recover and play well the next game will be the teams that land at the top of the standings and primed for a run in March. The two losses only place Boise State in the middle of the MWC dogfight.
On the other hand, two losses to Fresno State and Nevada this week would be catastrophic. If there are any "bottom dwellers" of the league, these are them and Boise State needs to have two convincing victories to regain some momentum heading into tougher matchups against league opponents.
Record: 13-4, 1-2 MWC
AP Ranking: NR
RPI: 48 (Last Week: 26)
Best Win: @Creighton (RPI: 24)
Worst Loss: @Utah (RPI: 120)
Fresno State – Wednesday, January 23, 2013 @ 6:00pm MST, Taco Bell Arena
Record: 7-10, 1-3 MWC
AP Ranking: NR
Best Win: Wyoming (RPI: 36)
Worst Loss: Washington State (RPI: 185)
Key Player: Tyler Johnson (11.0 ppg, 1.8 apg)
MMA Move Needed to Win: Guillotine
@ Nevada – Saturday, January 26, 2013 @ 2:00pm MST, Reno, NV
TV: Yeah Right
Record: 10-7, 1-2 MWC
AP Ranking: NR
Best Win: @Washington (RPI: 67)
Worst Loss: @Marshall (RPI: 222)
Key Player: Deonte Burton (16.8 ppg, 2.8apg)
MMA Move Needed to Win: Rear Naked Choke