Why there were no upsets in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament

13_mwc_bballThe unpredictable has become predictable.

That was the story at least for one day in the Mountain West Conference, as every favorite held serve against their lower seeded opponents in the first round of the conference tournament.

That’s quite a departure from what we saw in the regular season.

This is the league that this past weekend saw Fresno State, which only had four wins in the conference season upset UNLV on the road, something not many do as the Rebels had lost only once at home all season going into their senior night.

That same day, Air Force handed first place New Mexico a last second 89-88 loss to give the Lobos just their third loss of the conference season.

And after four games of the conference tournament, not one of the underdogs could muster the energy to upset one of the top four teams in the conference.

It looked as if there may be one when No. 2 CSU was losing 36-33 at halftime to No. 7 Fresno State.

It seemed the Rams might have their conference championship hopes denied, especially since they were without the leader of their offense, Dorian Green, but the Rams managed to hang on and escape with a 67-61 win.

No. 8 Wyoming stayed close with No. 1 New Mexico for a while, but then fell apart because they couldn’t answer New Mexico’s scoring runs with one of their own.

No. 6 Air Force may have had a chance to upset No. 3 UNLV, but senior guard Michael Lyons getting injured in the first three minutes of the game didn’t help their cause, and freshman forward Anthony Bennett was simply on fire in the second half, scoring 19 and grabbing 5 boards in the final 20 minutes.

No. 5 Boise State challenged No. 4 SDSU Wednesday night, even taking a 49-48 lead with 8:45 left in the game, but couldn’t do enough to stop Jamaal Franklin and the Aztecs and eventually lost 73-67.

Franklin led SDSU with 19 points and eight rebounds in the game and was an integral part of the Aztecs’ victory.

The reason the parody seen in the regular season stopped in the first round of the MW tournament is the favorable match-ups that each favorite saw in the first round.

San Diego State went into its game with Boise State after being defeated by the Broncos this past weekend. Boise State, however, has struggled on the road this year. That, along with the Broncos only shooting 37.1 percent from the field in the second half compared to SDSU’s 52.6 percent, both worked in the Aztecs’ favor.

UNLV came into its match-up with Air Force playing on its home floor and got a tremendous amount of help with Lyons and center Taylor Broekhuis leaving the game early with injuries. The Falcons knew going into the game they would have to shoot well in order to have a chance against the Rebels and two of their top four scorers got injured.

CSU came into its game with Fresno State without Green, but still had a multitude of match-up advantages over the Bulldogs.

The Rams enter every game with the advantage of being the fourth-best rebounding team in the nation, but the upper hand they had against Fresno State was more pronounced.

The Bulldogs have only one player, senior forward Kevin Foster, who averages over five rebounds per game and as a team, they are ranked No. 265 in terms of rebounds per game.

The Rams on the other hand, have four players that average over five rebounds per game, and the conferences, top rebounder in senior center Colton Iverson, who averages 9.7 per game.

San Diego State had the advantage of athleticism over Boise State. The Broncos rode the momentum of their home crowd in a 69-65 win over the Aztecs at home last Saturday, but the length, quickness and overall talent of Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames gives the advantage on a neutral court firmly to SDSU.

So after the first round of the MW tournament, what we know is Air Force’s Cinderella season is likely over, New Mexico is still the team to beat, CSU is going to have a hard time winning any games without Green and Boise State’s NCAA tournament hopes are still on thin ice.

That and the second round games promise to have a lot more drama than today did.

For continuing coverage of the Mountain West Tournament, be sure to check back with collegian.com periodically and check out the print version of The Collegian published every Monday-Friday