Mountain West Men's Basketball Weekly Release - Postseason Edition

March 19, 2013



The Mountain West is sending a league-record seven teams into postseason play, including a Conference-best five teams in the NCAA tournament. Wyoming kicks off the MW's postseason slate with a Tuesday night outing against Lehigh in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational.

MW POSTSEASON NOTES

  • A league-record seven Mountain West teams received postseason bids in 2012-13. This marks the third straight year (sixth overall) the MW has sent at least six teams into postseason play (2001-02, 2002-03, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12).
  • This season, a league-record five teams earned bids to the NCAA tournament: Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV. In addition, Air Force is headed to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and Wyoming is off to the College Basketball Invitational.
  • With five of nine teams in the NCAA tournament, the Mountain West has 55.6 percent of its membership participating in the Big Dance. That is second only to the Big Ten, who has seven of 12 (.583).
  • The Mountain West is one of four conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Big East) to have at least 50 percent of its membership included in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and one of six with five or more teams.
  • Four Mountain West teams participated in the 2010 and 2012 NCAA tournaments. The MW has sent at least three teams to the NCAA tournament for four straight years and seven times overall in the league's 14-year history.
  • The Mountain West is one of six conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, SEC) to send at least three teams to the NCAA tournament four straight years, as well as two teams in each of the last 12 years.
  • This season is the 12th straight year, and 13th overall, the Mountain West had at least one at-large qualifier on Selection Sunday. The only year in which the MW had a lone representative in the Big Dance was in 2000-01.
  • In 14 years, the Mountain West has received 38 NCAA bids, including 25 at-large berths.
  • From 2007-12, 19 of 22 MW representatives in the NCAA tournament have received a single-digit seed. Mountain West teams have compiled a 14-18 record as single-digit seeds in the NCAA tournament.

MOUNTAIN WEST IN THE RPI

  • The Mountain West is currently ranked No. 1 in the conference RPI, marking the league's highest ranking in its 14-year history. This is the third straight year the Mountain West has ranked in the top five of the RPI. Overall, the MW has ranked in the top 10 of the RPI in 13 of 14 seasons.
  • Four Mountain West teams are ranked in the top-30 of the March 18 NCAA RPI report. New Mexico leads the league at No. 2, followed by Colorado State at No. 21, UNLV at No. 23 and San Diego State at No. 30.
  • The Mountain West is one of three conferences (Big East, Big Ten) to have four teams in the top-30 of the RPI.
  • Seven of the nine Mountain West teams are ranked in the top 80 of the March 18 NCAA RPI rankings, marking the highest percentage (.778) of any conference in the country.
  • Overall, no Mountain West team is ranked lower than 175 in the RPI. The MW is the only conference to have each of its teams ranked 175 or better in the RPI.

SNAPSHOT OF MW POSTSEASON PARTICIPANTS

  • New Mexico (29-5) claimed the Mountain West regular-season crown and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament after capturing the MW tournament title with a 63-56 victory over UNLV last Saturday. The Lobos, whose No. 3 seed ties for the highest in program history, will take on No. 14 seed and Ivy League champion Harvard (19-9) in the West Regional on Thursday, March 21 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. This marks the Lobos' third NCAA tournament appearance in four years and 14th overall. New Mexico will be meeting Harvard for the first time.
  • UNLV (25-9) garnered its 10th at-large bid in program history and will travel to HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., to face No. 12 seed and Pac-12 opponent California (20-11) in the second round of the East Regional on Thursday, March 21. UNLV will be making its sixth NCAA tournament appearance in seven years, including a Sweet 16 run in 2007. Making their 20th NCAA tournament trip overall, the Rebels hold a 33-18 record in NCAA tournament games. UNLV will face California for the second time this season, after the Runnin' Rebels posted a 76-75 victory in Berkeley on Dec. 9, 2012. Overall, the Rebels hold a 5-1 all-time record vs. Cal.
  • No. 7 seed San Diego State (22-10) earned its second straight NCAA at-large selection and will square off against No. 10 seed and Big 12 foe Oklahoma (20-11) on Friday, March 22 in the South Regional at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. San Diego State is making its fourth straight appearance, and ninth overall, in the NCAA tournament, including a Sweet 16 run in 2011. This will be San Diego State's fourth outing against Oklahoma. The Aztecs are 0-3 all-time vs. the Sooners.
  • Colorado State (25-8) earned a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Regional and will face No. 9 seed Missouri (23-10) out of the SEC in second-round play on Thursday, March 21 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. The Rams, who earned an at-large bid for the second straight year, will be making their 10th trip to the NCAA tournament. This marks the fourth straight postseason appearance for CSU. The Rams are 1-1 all-time against Missouri.
  • Boise State (21-10) earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and will square off against fellow No. 13 seed and A-10 foe La Salle (21-9) in the First Four on Wednesday, March 20 at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, at 9:10 p.m. ET. This marks the first at-large invitation for the Broncos, who are appearing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008 and sixth time overall, having also earned automatic bids in 1976, 1988, 1993 and 1994. This will be the first meeting between Boise State and La Salle.
  • Air Force (17-13) will play in its second CIT in the last three years and faces Hawai'i on Wednesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. HT at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Air Force is 13-24 all-time against Hawai'i. This marks the seventh postseason appearance in the Falcons' 57-year history.
  • Wyoming (19-13) garnered a berth in the College Basketball Invitational for the second straight year (third overall) and will host Lehigh on Tuesday, March 19. This is the Cowboys' 25th trip to a postseason tournament overall, having also participated in 14 NCAA tournaments and eight NITs. Wyoming is meeting Lehigh for the first time.

MOUNTAIN WEST IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
With only postseason competition remaining, the Mountain West is on pace to post the best composite out-of-conference record in the league's 14-year history, as the current .795 (101-26) win percentage currently ranks well ahead of the .756 (102-33) clip MW teams compiled last season. The Mountain West has finished with a .700 or better win percentage in non-conference play each of the last three seasons and four times overall.

MW IN NATIONAL RANKINGS

  • New Mexico (29-5, 13-3 MW) is ranked No. 10 in both of the March 18 Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches' polls. The AP poll is the final one of the 2012-13 campaign, while a final Coaches' poll will come out following the conclusion of the NCAA tournament.
  • Five different Mountain West teams have been ranked in at least one national poll this season, marking a first for the Conference. The 2012-13 season marks the fourth straight year the Mountain West has had at least three different teams ranked in the top-25 polls at the same time at some point during the season.
  • The Mountain West is one of five conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12) to have five or more teams ranked in at least one top-25 poll at some point this season, and one of four (Big East, Big Ten, Big 12) to have 50 percent or more of its teams appear in at least one poll at some point.
  • The MW has had at least one team ranked in both polls for 33 consecutive weeks and two teams listed in the AP poll for 26 of the last 32 weeks. At least two MW teams have been ranked in the Coaches' poll 27 of the last 33 weeks.

LOBOS CLAIM MW REGULAR-SEASON CROWN
New Mexico claimed the 2012-13 MW regular-season crown with a 13-3 record. This marks the Lobos' fourth MW regular-season title, with all of them coming under sixth-year head coach Steve Alford. New Mexico was the only team to go undefeated at home in Mountain West play (8-0) in 2012-13. The Lobos were also the only squad to post a winning road record against MW opponents (5-3) this season.

NEW MEXICO CAPTURES MW TOURNAMENT TITLE
New Mexico captured its second-straight and third overall Mountain West tournament title, defeating No. 3 seed UNLV, 63-56, in the 2013 championship game on March 16. The Lobos began their run to the title with a 59-46 win over No. 8 seed Wyoming in quarterfinal action before holding off fourth-seeded San Diego State in the semifinals, 60-50. New Mexico became the second team in MW history to win an outright regular-season crown and the MW tournament title in the same season. San Diego State was the first team to accomplish the feat during the 2005-06 campaign.

FIVE MOUNTAIN WEST TEAMS REACH 20-WIN MARK

  • Five Mountain West teams have reached the 20-win mark for the second straight season and third overall. The five 20-win teams tie the Conference record, which was originally set in 2008-09. This is the also the seventh straight year at least four Mountain West teams have amassed 20 or more victories.
  • The Mountain West is one of five conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC) to have at least four teams with 20 or more wins each of the last seven seasons (2006-07 to 2012-13).
  • New Mexico (29-5) has reached the 20-win mark for the 20th time in the past 27 seasons, including all six under head coach Steve Alford. This marks the Lobos' 26th 20-win campaign overall, with all of them coming since the 1963-64 season.
  • Colorado State (25-8) has recorded back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since accomplishing the feat during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Overall, the Rams have hit the 20-win mark eight times in program history.
  • UNLV (25-9) has 20 wins for the seventh consecutive season. It is the first time since 1986-93 the Runnin' Rebels have won 20-plus games in seven straight seasons.
  • Boise State (21-10) has notched the 10th 20-win season in program history, and first as a member of the Mountain West. Two of the 20-win campaigns have come under Leon Rice, who is the first head coach in Bronco history to reach the benchmark in two of his first three seasons.
  • San Diego State (22-10) has recorded its school-record eighth straight 20-win season and ninth of Steve Fisher's tenure. The Aztecs had a total of nine 20-win campaigns in the 78 seasons prior to Fisher's arrival on campus, which includes just two 20-win campaigns at the Division I level.
  • UNLV has racked up a league-high 10 20-win campaigns in 14 seasons as a member of the Mountain West, followed by San Diego State (nine), New Mexico (eight), Air Force and Wyoming (three each), Colorado State (two) and Boise State (one).
  • In the league's 14-year history, all 48 teams with 20 or more wins prior to Selection Sunday have been invited to the postseason. Including this year, the Mountain West has received 69 postseason bids since its inception in 1999-00.

DIALING FROM LONG DISTANCE
UNLV currently holds the NCAA record for consecutive games with at least one made 3-pointer. Since the official adoption of the 3-point rule at the start of the 1986-87 season, the Runnin' Rebels have connected on at least one trey in all 874 of their games. UNLV, Princeton, Vanderbilt are the only three teams in the country to have made at least one 3-pointer in every one of their games since the rule was implemented.

400 WINS AND COUNTING
With the addition of Colorado State's Larry Eustachy, the Mountain West is now home to three 400-win head coaches. New Mexico's Steve Alford has accumulated a 463-234 (.664) record over a 21-year head coaching career, while San Diego State's Steve Fisher is 464-252 (.648) in 21 seasons as a head coach. Eustachy has amassed a 427-266 (.616) career record, also over a 21-year span.

CSU'S PIERCE HORNUNG SEMIFINALIST FOR EDDIE SUTTON AWARD
Colorado State senior forward Pierce Hornung is one of 12 semifinalists for the 2013 Eddie Sutton Tustenugee Award. Now in its third year, the award is presented by Tulsa Sports Charities to the collegiate basketball player who best exhibits the traits of tenacity and unselfishness that Sutton advocated during his Hall of Fame career.

UNLV'S ANTHONY BENNETT ON WOODEN AWARD BALLOT
UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett is among 15 candidates for the 2012-13 John R. Wooden Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate basketball player. All balloted players have proven to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA.

SDSU'S FRANKLIN, UNLV'S BENNETT AMONG NAISMITH TOP 30
San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin and UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett are among the top 30 candidates for the Naismith Award. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is presented annually to college basketball's best player.

UNLV'S BENNETT ON ROBERTSON, TISDALE AWARD WATCH LISTS
UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett is on the 12-player Midseason Watch Lists for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's 2013 Oscar Robertson Trophy presented by Aflac, which goes to the National Player of the Year, and the 2013 Integris Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given to the National Freshman of the Year. Bennett is the only player to be included on both lists.