In Praise of the Mountain West Conference

I’m tired of reading and hearing of how great the Missouri Valley and A-10 conferences are while no one is saying the same kind of things about the Mountain West. Don’t get me wrong – I love Xavier, and Drake is a great story. It’s just that the MWC is as impressive as those conferences in a lot of ways, yet not nearly as much ink is spilled over it. The conference struggles for attention because it is located away from the east coast media markets (or in the case of teams like Wyoming, away from any media market at all). The east coast snobs are missing out. Just look at the facts:

  • The team has had two or three teams in the tournament every year since 2002.
  • It has had a Sweet Sixteen entry twice in that time (Utah in 2005, and UNLV last year)
  • Air Force made a run to the semis of the NIT last year
  • Two teams – BYU and UNLV – are in very solid position to make the tournament this year
  • A third – New Mexico – made a very strong case for their inclusion with a huge win over UNLV on Tuesday
  • The conference is profitable overall (115-99 ATS), and New Mexico is among the most profitable teams in the country (21-7-1 ATS)
  • Three conference teams are in the top 46 in RPI (New Mexico 46, UNLV 27, BYU 23). Compare that to two in the top 50, and one above 36, for the MVC.
  • Steve Alford won’t win anything, but he deserves coach of the year consideration for the turnaround in his first year at New Mexico. Dave Rose deserves an award, too, for the job he has done at BYU – at least 70 wins over three years after taking over a nine win team.

I’m not saying that one of these teams is going to win it all, or even go deep. All I’m saying is that teams are not going to be excited to draw a Mountain West team in the first round. If you aren’t paying attention to this conference then you aren’t alone, and you are missing out.

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