Forget The ACC, Big East, Or SEC; Mountain West Conference Is The Nation’s 2nd Best

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Gosh darn you conference realignment. There’s a good chance come next year, unless something chances with the San Diego State Aztecs, the Mountain West Conference won’t be the same. Given all that’s happening this year with the conference, and quite frankly the last few years, college basketball will miss the 2nd best conference in the land and I don’t really think it’s even that close.

Look at the ACC. It’s down and only three bids are likely for the conference.

The Big East isn’t as top heavy as it once was. Obviously, the Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals are the cream of the crop but after that there’s a significant drop off.

The Pac-12? Ha! The Arizona Wildcats have shown they are vulnerable and yet are the only sure team in that league that will dance in March.

And finally we’ve got the SEC…. With the Kentucky Wildcats down, the staple of the south is looking at probably four tickets to the dance at most.

That leaves us with the Big Ten and the Mountain West. I’ve learned to always respect the Midwest. That league could get seven, or perhaps even eight teams, in the NCAA Tournament, but the Mountain West is clearly the bridesmaid.

I see them getting at least five, but probably six bids, in a league that only has nine basketball schools! Talk about bang for your buck if you are Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson.

Wednesday night was the start of a truly special next two months for the league as the UNLV Runnin Rebels and the New Mexico Lobos battled to the wire at “the Pit”. The Boise State Broncos and Wyoming Cowboys each took punches in their Laramie slug fest. And finally, the Fresno State Bulldogs gave all San Diego State could handle until they finally fell in the final minute.

These types of games, night in and night out, are going to get these teams ready for March. Don’t expect any of them to be intimidated when they face the supposed “big boys” from the “power six” leagues. Any of the teams I’ve mentioned can do some major damage to your bracket.

If I had to pick a best of the bunch I’d probably grab onto New Mexico. They are a strong defensive team that has the two things I look for most: “size” in 7 footer center Alex Kirk and a veteran “point guard” with Kendall Williams.

The best basketball this season will certainly come from the Midwest, but if you are looking for a treat this conference season, don’t head east; head to the mountains where the ball don’t lie on a nearly nightly basis.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.

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