College Basketball Nation: Mountain West

Mid-Major Report: Power Rankings

February, 7, 2013
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Here are the latest mid-major power rankings for ESPN.com as voted upon by our national panel. I also vote in this poll, which does not include any teams from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West.

Another quick look at the panel:

Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) covers Horizon League basketball for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Richard Kilwien (@smcgaels) is the associate athletic director for external affairs at Saint Mary's College.

Leslie Wilhite (@Leslie_Wilhite, @MT_MBB) is in her second season as an assistant director of athletic communications at Middle Tennessee State University.

Dusty Luthy Shull (@DustyLuthyShull) covers Murray State athletics for The Paducah (Ky.) Sun.

John Templon (@nybuckets) writes about New York City and East Coast mid-major college basketball for his website, nycbuckets.com.

Thomas Chen (@thomasmchen) is in his third year as director of athletic communications at Stony Brook University.

Terry Vandrovec (@terryvandrovec) covers South Dakota State basketball for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Mid-Major Power Rankings: Week 8
  1. Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0 WCC) – Can the Zags earn a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance if they run the table in the WCC?
  2. Belmont (19-4, 10-0 OVC) – The Bruins have scored 80 or more points in six of the last 10 games, all victories.
  3. Middle Tennessee (20-4, 12-1 Sun Belt) – The Blue Raiders are ranked 25th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings.
  4. Creighton (20-4, 9-3 MVC) – Wednesday’s loss to Indiana State only added to the confusion in the Missouri Valley Conference.
  5. Saint Mary’s (19-4, 8-1 WCC) – The Gaels’ seven-game winning streak has been overshadowed by Gonzaga’s dominance.
  6. Akron (18-4, 9-0 MAC) – The Zips have the nation’s longest winning streak (14 games).
  7. Bucknell (19-4, 6-1 Patriot) – Tell your friends about Mike Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg).
  8. BYU (18-6, 8-2 WCC) – The Cougars can prove that they’re more than just the third-best team in the WCC when they face Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in late February.
  9. Wichita State (19-5, 8-4 MVC) – Snapped Southern Illinois’ six-game losing streak on Tuesday night. Huh?
  10. Louisiana Tech (19-3, 10-0 WAC) – Still undefeated in conference play; still under the radar.
  11. Indiana State (15-8, 8-4 MVC) – The Sycamores’ 19-point win over Creighton on Wednesday night created more havoc in the MVC.
  12. Stephen F. Austin (18-2, 9-1 Southland) – The Lumberjacks have lost just one game since Dec. 5.
  13. Lehigh (16-5, 6-1 Patriot) – The Mountain Hawks are still fighting for the Patriot League crown without C.J. McCollum.
  14. Murray State (16-5, 7-2 OVC) – Racers can make a statement about their standing in the OVC with a win over Belmont Thursday night.
  15. Valparaiso (18-6, 8-2 Horizon) – Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk combine to average 29.4 ppg.
Team of the Week: Indiana State’s 76-57 win over No. 16 Creighton Thursday was significant for a Sycamores program that is just one game behind the Bluejays in the Missouri Valley Conference race now. All-American Doug McDermott was just 3-for-10 (eight points) in the game. Jake Odum led the Sycamores with 22 points.

Player of the Week: Southern’s Derick Beltran finished with 35 points (8-for-14 from beyond the arc), seven rebounds and three blocks in a 78-58 win over Jackson State on Monday. The 6-foot-4 guard was 12-for-21 from the field.

Notes
  • Montana’s defense (62.8 ppg allowed, No. 1 in the Big Sky) has carried the Grizzlies to a 12-0 start in conference play. Most surprising fact of the run? Big Sky standout Will Cherry is the third-leading scorer on the team.
  • All signs point to another Big West championship for Long Beach State. Dan Monson’s perennially challenging nonconference slate clearly prepared the 49ers for conference play. But they’ve also benefited from the addition of transfers Keala King (Arizona State), Tony Freeland (DePaul) and Dan Jennings (West Virginia). The trio has combined to average 28.4 ppg.
  • Western Illinois, North Dakota State and South Dakota State are tied atop the Summit League with 9-2 records. This will be a great race to track down the stretch. Nate Wolters has led the Jackrabbits to seven consecutive wins. He’s 9-for-18 from the 3-point line in the team’s last three games. If he continues to play this way, he’ll carry SDSU back to the top of the conference again. He’s that good.

Video: A Mountain West return?

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
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Mark Schlabach on Boise State, San Diego State and BYU having conversations with the Mountain West about the possibility of returning to the league.
College basketball might be in for a bit of conference-tournament realignment. The issue, of course, is money -- and determining where conferences and host cities can make the most of it could force a few tournament-location changes in coming years.

College basketball tournaments are multimillion-dollar moneymakers for conferences and host cities. Some cities, like Las Vegas and New York, experience a windfall every year, but others like Atlanta and Kansas City are fighting to play host to tournaments more often. Other cities are simply trying to hang on to the tournaments that call them home.

The Big East’s tournament is one of the most successful each year and is in its 30th year at Madison Square Garden. And though it’s in the first year of a five-year extension at MSG, the conference appears close to signing a deal keeping it there through 2026.

Last year, the conference saw its most-attended tournament in total attendance and ranked second, behind the ACC, in average per-session attendance.

The ACC tournament, which annually ranks first or second in total attendance and average per-session attendance didn’t sell out this year ahead of tournament play, even though games are being held in the 19,300-seat Phillips Arena in Atlanta instead of the much larger Georgia Dome. The 2001 tournament in the Georgia Dome was the most-attended conference basketball tournament in NCAA history for both total attendance (182,625) and per-session attendance (36,605).

Big 12
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireThe Big 12's tournament has rotated between Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas over the past decade, and its future location is not yet set.
The result? The Atlanta Sports Council estimated a total economic impact that year of more than $31 million. But when the Georgia Dome hosted the tournament again in 2009, the impact dropped to $22.9 million.

Dan Corso, executive director of the Atlanta Sports Council, said this year’s tournament will provide greater economic impact than in 2009.

“The economic impact this year, dependent upon how many visitors attend the event, is estimated at approximately $25 million,” said Corso.

The economic impact isn’t as profound for the Big Ten tournament, although it ranks in the top five in terms of attendance each year. John Dedman, Indiana Sports Corp.’s vice president for communications, said the total for the men’s and women’s tournaments in Indianapolis this week is expected to be $12 million to $15 million. “The majority of that economic impact is on the men’s side,” said Dedman.

By comparison, Dedman said the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game, which was held in Indianapolis in 2011, generated $17.7 million in economic impact.

The Big 12’s tournament has rotated between Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas over the past decade. The future site is the source of much debate as Missouri leaves the conference for the SEC. The combined economic impact of both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Kansas City is $14 million.

The men’s tournament is in Kansas City through 2014, but the conference announced in November the women’s tournament would leave for Dallas in 2013 and play in Oklahoma City in 2014.

Another tournament potentially on the move is the Pac-12’s championship. Also a perennial top five in attendance in recent years, it is concluding an 11-year stint in Los Angeles this weekend. Commissioner Larry Scott confirmed this week that moving to Las Vegas or Seattle is possible, though there is also the possibility of staying in Los Angeles.

Las Vegas already hosts three conference tournaments: the Mountain West, Western Athletic and West Coast.

“We have not thought a lot about other leagues,” Scott said. “I think more about TV and what our TV windows would be and how they would match up.”

Mountain West coaches may be hoping the conference’s merger with C-USA will result in a new location for their conference tournament. The games are currently played on UNLV’s campus, which has caused some coaches concern over the possibility of a home-court advantage.

“I think it’s absolutely unfair,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said during this week’s coaches’ teleconference. “It’s not done in any other major conference.

The Mountain West played its tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver from 2004-06, but attendance paled in comparison to Las Vegas. The highest attended tournament in Denver drew a total of 37,300, whereas Las Vegas has averaged nearly 57,000 each of the past five years. Last year, the tournament drew a record high of 69,913.

In a 2009 study prepared for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the economic impact of the Mountain West tournament brought $6.4 million in non-gaming economic impact to Las Vegas.

Colorado State coach Tim Miles implies it’s the money that has really mattered in the choice of the host city.

“As coaches, we’ve asked for this to be changed and it’s been voted down each time,” Miles said. “When those kids get the bracket and the first thing they do is drop their head because they’re on UNLV’s side of the bracket, or they breathe a sigh of relief they’re not on UNLV’s side of the bracket, it really makes a difference.”

“You can’t tell me any of this was done in the best interest of the student-athletes.”

MWC enters top five of conference rankings

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
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The Mountain West Conference moved into the top five, while the SEC got closer to the Big East in ESPN Stats and Info’s weekly college basketball rankings.

For a complete recap of how we rank the conferences, click <a href="here and here.

The MWC has continued to rise in the rankings this season and is now nearly three full percentage points ahead of the ACC. The conference is getting more respect from the computer polls than the ACC and got a season-high 10.6 percent human bonus this week.

There are just two Mountain West teams in the Top 25, but the San Diego State Aztecs and UNLV Rebels are both ranked in the top 15 in the nation. The Aztecs are ranked 12th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll this week, the highest they’ve been all season.

While the Mountain West moved into the top five this week, the SEC moved closer to the Big East, cutting the gap in half from eight percentage points to four. The conference has three teams ranked in the Top 25, but the Kentucky Wildcats moved into the top spot in both polls this week, slightly helping its human bonus.

The SEC saw a three point jump in the computer rankings this week and was helped by two out-of-conference wins on Saturday over Big Six conference teams. The Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Michigan Wolverines 66-64 while the Tennessee Volunteers took care of the Connecticut Huskies, giving the SEC big wins over the Big Ten and Big East.

The Murray State Racers are ranked ninth in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 11th in the AP poll, but the Ohio Valley Conference remained in the number 22 spot in the power rankings this week.

No conference moved up or down more than one spot in this week’s rankings.

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