Thursday, March 11, 2010
Mountain West tournament quarterfinal previews
By Diamond Leung
LAS VEGAS -- We're live at the Thomas & Mack Center, where Day 2 of the Mountain West Conference tournament is set to start. Here are some previews to get you started.
Game 1: No. 1 Mexico vs. No. 9 Air Force
Do the Falcons, a team that won only one conference game during the regular season, have a chance to pull the upset? On Feb. 20, they went into The Pit and held a lead with under 30 seconds left before the Lobos went on to win by three. Air Force played at such a slow pace that coach Jeff Reynolds told the Colorado Springs Gazette after the game that he didn't even necessarily mind shot-clock violations. New Mexico will have to be careful of being lulled to sleep and also watch Air Force's leading scorer, Grant Parker, who is feeling better after missing a huge chunk of the year with a groin injury and scored 15 in a win against No. 8-seeded Wyoming.
Game 2: No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 5 Colorado State
San Diego State has won the past 10 regular-season meetings between the two teams, but Colorado State did beat the Aztecs in a 2007 conference quarterfinal. Freshman of the year Kawhi Leonard will play in his first elimination game, as the Aztecs hope to see him shine with the team on the bubble. CSU also has a talented freshman in guard Dorian Green. At 16-14, the Rams will have their first season under third-year coach Tim Miles that doesn't end with a sub-.500 record.
Game 3: No. 2 BYU vs. No. 7 TCU
Only five days ago, BYU played on the road against TCU and won by 30 points even after trailing at one point by 14. At home, the Cougars won by 20. So for all of the talk of it being difficult to beat a team three times in a season, this could very well happen in this series. Oh, and by the way, BYU has 12 straight wins against TCU. The Cougars would love to see Jimmer Fredette at full strength after a bout with a stomach virus and then have the game turn into a glorified scrimmage. Jim Christian, who wasn't pleased after the last game, hopes that doesn't happen.
Game 4: No. 3 UNLV vs. No. 6 Utah
Game-time decisions are a factor in this one, as UNLV hopes to get Derrick Jasper back and Utah looks to have David Foster and Kim Tillie healthy from their sprained ankles. Foster, the Utes' 7-foot-3 center, is a top shot-blocker who was named the conference's defensive player of the year and is questionable after not practicing, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. UNLV's home-court advantage is a factor, though Utah swept the season series, including a four-point win in January at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels are hoping for a big night from leading scorer Tre'Von Willis.