If you told me I could only cover one conference for the remainder of the season, I’d pick the Mountain West, and I’ll tell you why.
Top-to-bottom, right now, it’s the most competitive league in the nation. Any team can beat any other on any given day, and it’s not because the league is weak, but because it’s loaded with great players and coaches. Only Nevada and Fresno State have played below the radar this season.
And fans, oh man the fans. Televised games are absolutely raucous this season, because MWC fans know they have it good.
Colorado State’s Moby Center was rocking hard throughout tonight’s 66-61 win over preseason favorite UNLV. Home fans watched Dorian Green score 24 and center Colton Iverson pull down ten crucial rebounds against the Rebs. Noise levels on the Rams’ home court reached airport-tarmac levels as Colorado State held the visitors scoreless for more than three minutes down the stretch.
To get your taste of MWC basketball, watch these highlights from NBCSports:
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.