Mountain West a 5-bid league?
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Days until Selection Sunday: 15.
The first word:
Do the Saint Mary’s sanctions matter for this year? The short answer is “probably not.”
Sure, the NCAA hammered the Gaels for “failure to monitor,” and will pay a steep price over a four-year probation that will include scholarship reductions, a ban on foreign tours and a suspension next year for coach Randy Bennett.
So that isn’t good, and it sure makes it unlikely that Gonzaga’s status as king of the West Coast Conference will be threatened by Saint Mary’s in the next few years.
But for right now, the Gaels (25-5) shouldn’t see an impact. They play a capable Santa Clara bunch Saturday, then head to the WCC semifinals next weekend. They are a borderline tournament team and will remain that way if they win the next two and then lose to Gonzaga in the conference final.
So the bottom line? Saint Mary’s is up a creek in the next few years, but Friday’s developments shouldn’t create lasting damage to this season’s bunch.
On the hot seat: Boise State
The most NCAA teams to come from the Mountain West in a year is four, set in 2010 and matched in 2012. The conference has four teams solidly in the field (Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV), with Boise State in contention for an at-large berth of its own.
Give the Broncos this much: They have more chances to improve their profile in the next three weeks as just about anyone. Boise State’s hovered on the periphery of the field for much of the last month, and they finish with Colorado State, UNLV and San Diego State and a Mountain West quarterfinal date likely to be against one of those three. Drubbing struggling Nevada on Wednesday was a positive step for the Broncos, who might not face a chance for a dubious loss the rest of the way.
Tonight, the Broncos begin that crucial finishing stretch when the solidly in-the-field Rams visit Boise. It’s not fair to say it’s a “must-win” considering there’s more wiggle room here than a good chunk of borderline teams, … [For more on Bubble Watch: Boise State could make Mountain West five-bid league, click here.]