It’s the weekend, so here’s your weekly “What on earth is happening in the Mountain West?” update. Well, Air Force defeated No. 17 San Diego State 70-67 to earn a slot as the No. 2 team in the league. The 5-2 Falcons have won five in a row. They have a veteran squad that just scored an upset against an Aztecs team that was coming off a 21-point win over New Mexico … just in case you’re trying to figure out the Mountain West. But that’s a huge win for a Falcons squad with an RPI of 72. San Diego State’s problems on the perimeter continue to create challenges for the Aztecs, who entered the game shooting 28 percent from beyond the arc in conference play. They were 2-for-19 against the Falcons. Ugh.
Updated RPI not out yet. But AF has to be considered an official "bubble team" at this point in time. If we project AF as 10-6 in regular season play, it would all come down to needing 1-2 wins in the league tourney. All that is asking a lot, but AF does certainly seem to be an improving team that is now poised to make a meaningful run.
More from ESPN. Still too early to consider AF a bubble team.
The Mountain West remains wild. How good is the Mountain West? Consider this: Air Force, probably the league's sixth-best team, upset San Diego State 70-67 at home Saturday to move to -- wait for it -- 5-2 in conference play, tied for second with Colorado State. Meanwhile, Boise State took down UNLV, 77-72. Despite its success in conference play (which includes an OT loss at UNLV, mind you), it would be difficult to make a case for Air Force as an NCAA tournament bubble team at the moment. Boise, on the other hand, is very much in the at-large picture, what with tonight's victory and that huge nonconference win at Creighton, which will keep paying dividends as the bubble conversation intensifies in the coming weeks. If BSU keeps knocking the league's best teams off, the Mountain West could end up with five or as many as six NCAA tournament bids -- not too shabby for a league with just nine teams.
The good thing about college conference basketball, is that each team is played twice. "Home and Home". Now; while not taking ANYTHING AWAY from the falcons, out of the 5 wins in a row; 4 of them were home games. And the only tough game that we were definitely considered the underdog, was yesterday's game against SDSU. Originally, Wyoming was a favorite, but since they lost their star player, they aren't that good any longer.
I think the "REAL GAME" that determines air force's 2012/2013 future, is Wednesday's game against New Mexico. That will be our 4th away conference game. We got destroyed by CSU. Wyoming was close. UNLV went to OT, but they are not as good as some people will have us believe.
We've got 9 games left. 5 of those road games. Assuming we do real well playing home games, we still have away games against UNM, SDSU, Nevada, BSU, and Fresno. And honestly, I think the HARDEST AWAY game will be against Boise State. Except for UNM, they have not lose ANY Home Games. Then again; just about ALL MWC teams have done real well at home. That's why I think the 2nd half of the season is going to get interesting. If the home teams keep winning, MOST of the conference is going to be between 7-9 and 9-7 in conference play. The real deciding factor will be: "Who can win ON THE ROAD".
• Winning at an elite level in men's basketball at one of the three service academies is almost improbable unless you have someone special like David Robinson. That's why it has been so rare. But the Air Force Academy has been unique. Joe Scott, Chris Mooney and then Jeff Bzdelik figured out a niche that worked. Now Dave Pilipovich has continued the legacy in his first full season as head coach. The Falcons are 5-2 in the MWC after beating San Diego State at home, following a road win at Wyoming. Air Force has the look of a postseason team. The Falcons have a legit scorer in Michael Lyons, and they locked down on defense against SDSU, holding the Aztecs to 2 of 19 on 3s.
Air Force just barely makes the ESPN list of bubble teams.
Air Force [14-6 (5-2), RPI: 67, SOS: 97] How good is this MWC? Air Force, probably the sixth-best team in the league, has a real chance of getting an at-large tournament bid. The profile is decent but not great, with no bad losses and only one good win, Saturday's upset of San Diego State. The Falcons will have to double and triple down in coming weeks to make this outside shot a reality.