Opening Round Exits:
Air Force - I am giving the Falcons a decent shot at winning a game in this tournament for the following reasons: The game is at 11am in Vegas! Only a Military Academy could be ready for that kind of wake up call in Sin City, and UNLV could easily come out flat in that scenario. Also, UNLV has been all over the place since January. The Falcons lost to the Rebels twice, but both were by single digits. Expect an ugly win for UNLV.
Colorado State - With Larry Eustachy out at CSU, this Rams team has looked really uninspired lately. I do not expect a Pepperdine-like performance in this tournament. I think CSU is ready for the offseason.
San Jose State - SJSU finally brioke through with a Conference win over Utah State on Senior night to save themselves from a bagel in conference. They get Wyoming in Round one and that will prove to be too tall of an order to extend the season to Thursday.
Gone in the Quarters:
UNLV - In what should be a heated contest at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV will fall just short against their in-state rivals Nevada. That of course is only if they avoid the first day scare from Air Force. This should be a real fun game to watch on Thursday afternoon.
San Diego State - Aztecs are a trendy pick to go far in this tournament.and for good reason, they've won six in a row. They finished the season with wins over Boise State and Nevada. However, the Aztecs were not able to beat tougher competition away from Viejas Arena this season, especially in Mountain West play. They run into a fiesty Fresno State club in the Quarters and I think SDSU goes home early.
Boise State - This is my real upset pick. Boise State will face a warm Aggies team who should cruise to victory the day before. Utah State played BSU tough both times this year and split the season series. Boise State has the pressure of needing to win this tournament, and I'm predicting they come out a bit tense and the Aggies capitalize.
Wyoming - The Cowboys have had a wild ride in the MWC all year and it would not surprise me to see them make a run this weekend. However, they run into a hot New Mexico team that swept them during the regular season. I think New Mexico keeps their win streak going and abruptly ends Wyoming's season.
Semifinal Send Offs:
Fresno State - Should be an exciting Semifinal between the Bulldogs and Nevada. Both teams come into the tournament with a thin bench and I think that will have an impact on this semifinal. I believe both teams will have to sweat in the Quarterfinal round as well. In the end, the playmaking and talent of Nevada proves to be too much for Fresno State.
Utah State - This is where the Aggies run out of gas. The Lobos are coming to play in Vegas and USU is a victim of the Lobos along the way. USU can be very proud of a semifinal appearance.
New Mexico over Nevada - Yes, I am predicting a bid thief here. The only meeting between these two teams came way back on December 30th, a 77-74 win in Reno for Nevada. New Mexico has improved quite a bit since then. Nevada's bench is not nearly as deep as UNM's. I expect Nevada to be a bit tired after grinding out wins against UNLV and Fresno. I do not think the Lobos will be nearly as tired coming off wins against Wyoming and Utah State. I am going with the Lobos and this will break the hearts of a bubble team somewhere.
Opening Round Exits: