Let me start by saying the Mountain West tournament rivals the SEC as arguably the best conference tournament to watch this year. I can see this tournament going any which way with the number of talented teams and ridiculousness of the season. Boise State claimed the number-one seed after a 15-3 conference record, and they deserved every win.
The Mountain West has seven teams ranked in the KenPom top-100, which is rare for any conference, let alone a non-Power 6. This season, the Mountain West is up to par with the Pac 12 and ACC and includes some serious squads that could make deep tourney runs. Right now, it appears that they will be sending four teams to dance, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if a fifth squad ends up stealing a bid.
The MWC Tournament will take place over four days, from Wednesday, March 8-Saturday, March 12. Let’s get to the preview, highlighting the favorite, best value, and darkhorse to win it all. Make sure to keep an eye out for more conference tournament previews along with extensive March Madness coverage once the bracket is revealed.
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Mountain West Conference Tournament
- Dates: March 9-12
- Venue: Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, NV
- Top Seed: Boise State
- 2021 — San Diego State
- 2020 — N/A
- 2019 — Utah State
- 2018 — San Diego State
- 2017 — Nevada
- 2016 — Fresno State
Favorite to Watch
Boise State (+280 on DraftKings)
The Broncos are the most well-rounded team in the conference, ranking 2nd in both offensive and defensive conference efficiency. This team is highlighted by Abu Kigab and Emmanuel Akot, while Marcus Shaver had a solid 2021-22 campaign. Tyson Degenhart needs to be highlighted as well, as one of the most efficient players in the nation despite his relatively low usage. Coach Leon Rice did a solid job at tightening up the defense this year and avoiding any late-season mishaps ala last season.
This is an incredibly experienced team with four starting seniors. They are battle-tested not only from their college careers but especially this season as well. Boise State had six one-possession games in the conference alone. This team also thrived away from home, ranking 8th in that metric per Haslametrics, so playing neutral games should be no problem for Boise.
My biggest hesitancy for the Broncos is that there are simply so many teams I can see winning this tournament. Their odds at +280 reflect just that. I do like this bet – this team has shown improvements on both sides of the ball. They’ll allow few rebounds, won’t foul, and still force tough looks while being able to beat you offensively. I do like this bet, but there are simply other numbers down the line I’d prefer more.
Colorado State (+360 on DraftKings)
There are a lot of experts who see Colorado State as the best team in the conference, with the highest chance of making a deep tournament run. David Roddy is a shifty big man who can really do it all, and keep CSU in any game. The Rams also really rounded into form toward the latter half of the season, going 8-1 since February 1st, rankings first in the conference.
This team isn’t entirely David Roddy either. Isaiah Stevens is a solid ball-handler with the ability to dish out some dimes as a facilitating guard who can shoot from deep as well. This squad will hit you left, right, and center with their offense that can score from anywhere on the floor, takes care of the ball well, and is an elite free throw shooting squad – incredibly helpful for any close game late that I imagine there will be a plethora of this tournament.
Colorado State’s defense is far from top-tier, ranking 90th in defensive efficiency, giving up a lot of points from deep. Their offense is elite, but if it falters at all, their defense can’t pick up the slack, as witnessed in CSU’s 72-51 blowout loss to UNLV. With that said, their offense is mostly consistent and they have seriously excelled on the road this season. The Rams at +360 is one of my favorite bets for Champ Week.
Best Longshot Play
Fresno State (+1300 at BetRivers)
Let me start by saying betting on any team not named Air Force or San Jose State for this conference tournament is a bet I fully support. SDSU’s defense is suffocating and they have rolled some teams. Wyoming is inconsistent but their one-two punch of Hunter Maldonado and Graham Ike brings out the best of old-fashioned ball that is tough to beat. Utah State is a team higher analytically than their resume shows, predicting future success. UNLV plays very well at home and bodes well as the tourney host. Even Nevada under-performed and has the ability to catch fire.
I have two words for why I picked Fresno State: Orlando Robinson. The 7’0″ center is a legitimate NBA talent that carries his team on his back. Where Robinson goes, Fresno State goes. This would usually be an issue for me but Robinson is so difficult to stop, I don’t mind. Fresno has shown its ability to keep up with the best of the Mountain West, losing in overtime to Wyoming, San Diego State, and Boise State, combined with two more one-possession losses to Wyoming and UNLV. A couple of bounces go their way, and we are talking about Fresno State as a top team in the conference. Give me all the Bulldogs this tournament.
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Ryan Coleman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive.