Checking in on… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@Amurawa) on February 9th, 2016

It’s a week of callbacks in the Mountain West check-in because a lot of the things we talked about last week at this time proved particularly relevant in the interim. Before we jump into team-by-team breakdowns, however, let’s hit the big story: San Diego State going a long way toward wrapping up at least a share of the regular season title for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Aztecs knocked off New Mexico on Saturday night, bumping their conference record to 11-0 and establishing a three-game lead over the Lobos in the loss column with seven games remaining. It wasn’t a dominant win and the Aztecs needed a fortunate (but not egregious) call with 12.9 seconds left to have a chance to tie the game. But, credit to Steve Fisher’s bunch, they made the most of the second chance by nailing a three from Malik Pope to send the game to overtime and then taking care of business from there. With the win, San Diego State continued its ascension up to #44 in the RPI and #64 in KenPom. What this all means is that there is some lingering hope around the conference that a second NCAA Tournament bid is possible. That would of course have to mean some team will knock off the Aztecs in the conference tournament, but six of those 11 conference wins have been decided by only one possession. In other words, if the luck factor in close games reverts to the mean, the Aztecs will have some losses coming between now and Selection Sunday.

With Saturday Night's Win, The Aztecs Again Have Full Control In The Mountain West (USA Today)

With Saturday Night’s Win, The Aztecs Again Have Full Control In The Mountain West (USA Today)

Power Rankings

  • San Diego State (18-6, 9-0) – Last week we dug into the Aztecs’ ongoing streak of what was then 159 straight wins (and 224 out of 225) when leading games with five minutes left to play. Since that post, the Aztecs found themselves ahead two more times with five minutes left, and in both games, with the outcome with a minute to go was severely in doubt. Against Colorado State, it was the Rams turning it over on three consecutive possessions and a contested layup at the buzzer that came up short. Against New Mexico it was a poorly executed in-bounds and a technically incorrect (but completely understandable) call. But here we stand with the streak now at 161 games. It’s not exactly on par with UCLA’s 88-game winning streak. Or DiMaggio’s hitting streak. But it is sort of mind-boggling. And I’ll certainly take it over the Globetrotters. One other note from the week: big men Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol combined to play 85 minutes and between them went 10-of-13 from the field, scored 20 points, grabbed 21 boards and blocked five shots. However, despite 13 feet and five inches of frontcourt goodness, the pair earned exactly zero free throw attempts.

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Morning Five: 07.02.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 2nd, 2013


  1. Morehead State fans might want to start thinking about the team next year without Demario Mayfield because the reports surrounding his arrest on May 27 suggest that he probably won’t be playing for the school any time soon. Mayfield, who averaged 11.7 points per game last season before being kicked off the team, was arrested along with a former Georgia player on charges of conspiracy to armed robbery. The details of the arrest are bad enough and include the two getting caught with guns, gloves and masks at 2:30 AM after driving around suspiciously in an area that had multiple break-ins recently. Perhaps the two will be able avoid significant legal penalties thanks to their lawyers or some technicality, but it would be difficult for Morehead State to justify keeping a player who facing these charges after getting kicked off the team for a violation of an athletic department guideline.
  2. It appears that news of Kyle Wiltjer‘s departure from Kentucky appear to have been exaggerated. At least that is if you believe his father. According to Wiltjer’s father the rising junior is “not 100 percent committed to transferring”. Wiltjer will apparently wait until after the World University Games to make a decision and is even considering redshirting a year given the playing time crunch that is expected in Lexington next year. We do not doubt that Big Blue Nation would welcome back a player of Wiltjer’s skills with open arms, but we would question where his mind would go the next time he is buried in John Calipari’s rotation.
  3. Many programs are accused of trying to get package deals where they hire someone to a position that they might not otherwise be qualified for in order to secure the commitment of a highly rated recruit. UNLV appears to be taking this to another level by adding Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon to its staff. With Simon’s resume he certainly appears to be qualified for at least a low-level coaching position, but perhaps more important than his coaching experience, which is admittedly somewhat limited, is his ability to recruit since Findlay Prep is essentially a basketball factory that churns out Division I prospects. With Simon in their backyard and with his experience in the program as a video coordinator under Lon Kruger it seems like a perfect fit. Now the only thing that remains to be seen is whether Simon can come close to the success he had recruiting kids to UNLV as he did at Findlay Prep.
  4. College athletics witnessed its first social media trade yesterday as Stanford announced that it was trading its @SUAthletics handle to Syracuse in exchange for “a collection of local goods to be named later but also including one case of oranges, which Stanford intends to use in refilling its 2011 Orange Bowl trophy.” To be honest when we still are not completely sure that this is not some elaborate social media joke, but it does make sense at some level since we certainly get confused going between conferences with schools using the same acronym (OSU, anybody?). We would be interested to see what kind of local oranges the Stanford administration received from upstate New York.
  5. Over the years we have heard multiple reports criticizing the state of the American educational system and it appears the latest example comes from the people at ESPN. In their excitement for conference realignment ESPN released a series of hastily produced conference maps and the results were less than stellar. The geographical errors range from schools merely being a little too far south to schools in the same city being shown in completely different parts of the state to schools being shown in the wrong state. Many people have tried to attribute these errors to staff cuts, but it really boils down to stupidity and laziness.
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