In the Mountain West tournament, there are four teams remaining: conference leader BYU, conference contender TCU, and New Mexico and Utah. If there was a pre-season poll picking the top four in the Mountain West, these teams would probably have been on that list. But New Mexico and Utah have already had to win two games in the staggered-format Mountain West tournament just to get to this point.
Utah, the 5-seed in the Mountain West tournament, is 14-16 this year (7-9 in conference). New Mexico, the 7-seed, is 13-17 and only won five conference games heading into the tournament.
Needless to say, both teams are ineligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
But both teams play host to NCAA first and second round games this year. It is common now to have host teams that don't make the NCAA tournament, but the relative geographic isolation of these two schools makes for a real problem in terms of attendance. By comparison the first and second round host site at the University of Virginia, another host school that will not get an at-large bid to the tournament, has the potential to draw a few teams within a couple hundred miles of the site: Hampton, Liberty, Georgetown, West Virginia, Navy, maybe some North Carolina teams. The nearest likely tournament eligible team to Albuquerque is probably Texas Tech, 320 miles away. And besides BYU, the next nearest likely tournament eligible team to Salt Lake City is probably Northern Colorado at nearly 500 miles. And it's not like Bears fans are known for traveling in large numbers for long distances.
But what luck for tournament organizers should New Mexico win the MWC Tournament! A home game for one of the best-attended sites in women's basketball would mean the potential for profit. Even in this less-than-stellar year for the Lady Lobos, the Pit has not hosted a game attended by fewer than 7,000 people. Now all that New Mexico has to do is win two more games...
Now in: (same as yesterday)
Now out: (same as yesterday)
Conferences with multiple bids:
Big East: 10
Big 12: 7
Big Ten: 5
Atlantic 10: 2
Mountain West: 2