Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ESPN's Hays: Fresno State, Boise State both in NCAA field

ESPN.com resident women's sports expert Graham Hays released his updated NCAA Tournament projections today, and he has a pair of Mountain West teams in the field of 64.

Hays has both Boise State and Fresno State, who are currently tied for the conference lead, in the field of 64.  This is the second projection in less than 24 hours showing two MW teams reaching this year's NCAA Tournament.  As noted earlier, Eric Lopez (host of the ELOOnline Podcast on Sportstalkflorida.com) released his updated, final-week projection last night, and it has both Fresno State and San Diego State in the field.

This is an incredibly important weekend for the Aztecs, Broncos and Bulldogs as all three hold reasonable NCAA Tournament hopes.  For both Fresno State and San Diego State, at-large NCAA berths are possible.  For Boise State, its only path is through winning the MW automatic bid.  SDSU must win the series with the Broncos to have a shot at the conference title -- and almost certainly even an at-large bid as well.  The Bulldogs, meanwhile, close the season at Nevada.  A series win could be enough for Fresno State to win the MW outright if SDSU wins its series at home versus the Broncos.

San Diego State has an impressive 17 wins vs. the RPI Top 100, including one versus the Top 50 (No. 45 Long Beach State).  Fresno State appears to have an even stronger at-large profile, with two victories over current Top 25 RPI teams (No. 14 Washington and No. 19 Nebraska, the Big Ten regular season co-champion), another over No. 30 North Carolina State, and a MW-leading five wins against the Top 50.  The Bulldogs have 14 victories vs. the RPI Top 100.

While all three teams at the top enter the weekend with legitimate NCAA hopes, two others -- Colorado State and UNLV -- still have designs on a Mountain West title themselves, though grabbing the league's automatic NCAA berth would require several scenarios to all fall in their favor.