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Hill: Super Bowl’s over. It’s time nation notices Mountain West hoops

Updated February 19, 2024 - 11:03 am

There is a great tradition in sports that happens every year as soon as the Super Bowl hangover subsides.

We as a fandom remember there are things to watch besides the NFL.

It’s usually around this time of year everyone recalls how awesome college basketball is and starts paying attention to what remains one of America’s best sports.

Now that there is focus on college basketball, it’s time for the nation to take notice of what is happening in the Mountain West.

This league is legit.

Six of the 11 teams are projected to make the NCAA Tournament field by ESPN’s Bracketology. While a lot can change, several of them are squarely in the field with a month to go before Selection Sunday.

That’s not including a UNLV team that has proven a threat to beat every team in the league or lose to any team in the league — sometimes in the same week. The Rebels will be a threat to add an extra bid by winning what figures to be an outstanding conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center next month.

We’ve seen these stories before. The Mountain West rises up to become a premier league every few years only to produce disappointing results in March. But San Diego State’s magical run last season showed things can be different.

Will any of this year’s Mountain West teams make the national championship game like the Aztecs? The odds are against it.

But there has been a huge power shift in college athletics, and while the rich tend to get richer in football, parity has taken full effect on the hardwood.

The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East only have four teams projected in the field. The Pac-12 has three. Gonzaga is on the bubble.

Some elite teams are at the top. Connecticut is once again the country’s best team, and Purdue is right there with the Huskies. But everyone else is flawed. It’s a wide-open field.

The Mountain West is more than capable of having a few teams make it to the second weekend and is worthy of your attention the next couple of months.

After all, you don’t have the NFL to watch, and you can always get to that chore list during the summer.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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