COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 16: James Rahon #11 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against Lorenzo Brown #2 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the second half during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 16, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
This season the Mountain West was a very challenging and balanced league. Six of the eight members made the postseason and four of those teams earned bids to the NCAA tournament. Now the only teams left are Wyoming and TCU who will play in the second round of the CBI on Monday.
Last year the Mountain West had nice postseason runs by BYU and San Diego State. In 2012 the New Mexico Lobos were the only the Mountain West school to even advance to the field of 32. Last night the Lobos fells to the Louisville Cardinals 59-56. The Lobos put on a big surge at the end of the game but they still came up short. Once again the Lobos weren't able to make it past the opening weekend of the tourney. Their opening round victory over Long Beach State was really the only bright spot for the Mountain West in the big dance.
Despite being the higher seed both UNLV and San Diego State struggled in their games. The Rebels did not play well on the road or at elevation this season. That trend continued on Thursday against #11 seed Colorado. Despite playing in the familiar confines of The Pit in Albuquerque the #6 Rebels looked dazed and confused. The Buff jumped out to a big lead and led by 20 points with 15:10 left in the game. The furious comeback fell short and now it seems like UNLV is somewhat lost. There are reports of discontent players and some fans are questioning if Dave Rice is the right coach for UNLV. It's still too early to close the book on the Rebels but this team just didn't play it's best this year at the end of the year.
#6 San Diego State faced a hot #11 North Carolina State team in Columbus, OH. The Aztec defense simply couldn't stop a Wolfpack team that shot 58% from the field. Meanwhile Jamaal Franklin had 23 points while Chase Tapley had 19 for San Deigo State. Unfortunately the Aztecs only shot 37% as a team. Over the second half NC State slowly pulled away and built a solid lead. The wheels just kind of fell off for San Diego State. Still an overall impressive season for the Aztecs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
#11 Colorado State faced a tough pairing with #6 Murray State. The Racers were playing in nearby Louisville, KY which was basically a home game. The first half was a battle with the Rams holding a 24-23 edge at the break. The Tim Miles halftime tweet was not effective as his team looked lost from that point forward. The Racers went on a 35-17 run to in the second half and showed why they won 30 games in the regular season. Poor shot selection limited the offense for CSU. The Rams made the tournament based on their strong RPI but really lost their big games against Stanford, Southern Miss, Duke and Northern Iowa. The Rams simply couldn't win on the road this year going 3-9.
It really was a great year for hoops in the Mountain West but it disappointing that so many schools made early exits. Now the post season hopes rely on TCU and Wyoming beating PAC 12 schools on the road. Certainly won't be an easy task for either team.