Keshad Johnson, San Diego State Aztecs, Mountain West Conference Tournament preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The Mountain West Conference Tournament.


The Mountain West Tournament has a legit team in San Diego State that could also make a deep run in March Madness. It could end up being a four-bid league with SDSU, Boise State, Utah State, and Nevada all making good cases for at-large bids.

2023 Mountain West Awards

Player of the Year: EJ Harkless, UNLV

Freshman of the Year: Darrion Williams, Nevada

Transfer of the Year: EJ Harkless, UNLV

Coach of the Year: Brian Dutcher, San Diego State

First Team:

  • G: Steven Ashworth, Utah State (16.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 45.0 3P%)
  • G: Jaelen House, New Mexico (16.8 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.6 SPG, 38.1 3P%)
  • G: EJ Harkless, UNLV (18.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.5 SPG)
  • G: Matt Bradley, San Diego State (13.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.2 APG)
  • G: Omari Moore, San Jose State (17.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.6 RPG)

Second Team:

  • G: Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State (17.9 PPG, 6.8 APG, 3.4 RPG, 38.6 3P%)
  • G: Jamal Mashburn Jr., New Mexico (19.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 39.3 3P%)
  • F: Kenan Blackshear, Nevada (14.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
  • F: Tyson Degenhart, Boise State (14.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 53.7 FG%)
  • F: Dan Akin, Utah State (12.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 66.5 FG%)

Mountain West Tournament Simulation

First Round – Wednesday, Mar. 8

8. Colorado State (14-17, 6-12) vs. 9. Fresno State (11-19, 6-12)  2 p.m. on Mountain West Network

Both of these teams did not have the best years. They are two very different teams. Colorado State has been solid on offense and bad on defense while Fresno State has been solid on defense and bad on offense. In the end, I think the offense of the Rams will be able to score enough to make up for the defense, just as they did in the regular season.

Joe’s pick: 8. Colorado State

7. UNLV (18-12, 7-11) vs. 10. Air Force (14-17, 5-13) – 4:30 p.m. on Mountain West Network

UNLV was one of the last unbeaten teams on the season, but they struggled once they got into Mountain West play. EJ Harkless has been one of the best players in the entire conference, and Air Force will not have the talent to be able to match. UNLV only won by one when they played a couple of weeks ago, but I think UNLV plays much better this time.

Joe’s pick: 7. UNLV

6. New Mexico (21-10, 8-10) vs. 11. Wyoming (9-21, 4-14) – 7 p.m. on Mountain West Network

Wyoming was not able to find its footing all season, and they have battled a lot of injuries. Hunter Maldonado has been solid for them, but New Mexico will have the best two players in the game in their backcourt of Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. Wyoming has played New Mexico well this year, but New Mexico does enough to win.

Joe’s pick: 6. New Mexico

Quarterfinals – Thursday, Mar. 9

1. San Diego State (24-6, 15-3) vs. 8. Colorado State – 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

San Diego State was the best team in the conference all season, and they boast one of the best defenses in the country. They were able to slow down Colorado State’s offense in their two matchups, and I think that happens again. Matt Bradley is one of the better players in the conference, and he gives the Aztecs a go-to guy down the stretch.

Joe’s pick: 1. San Diego State

4. Nevada (22-9, 12-6) vs. 5. San Jose State (19-12, 10-8) – 5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

This will be one of the more interesting early bracket games. Nevada is still playing to fully secure their spot in the tournament. San Jose State has shown they can put some really good games together. Kenan Blackshear has been a delight for Nevada this season, and he has played really well with Darrion Williams. Nevada won both matchups by double digits, and although I think it will be closer, I think Nevada is the more talented team and that comes through.

Joe’s pick: 4. Nevada

2. Boise State (23-8, 13-5) vs. 7. UNLV – 9 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Boise State has been a very solid team the entire season, and they are another team that has a very good defense to lean on. They have really good size on the wings that can make it difficult for teams to score. This has been a common theme thus far, but Boise State is just the more talented team on both sides of the ball, and it should come through in this game.

Joe’s pick: 2. Boise State

3. Utah State (24-7, 13-5) vs. 6. New Mexico – 11:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Utah State is another team that finds itself on the bubble, and a win would go a long way. This will be a matchup of some very talented guards on both teams, and both teams have the capability of really putting up points. This should be a high-scoring and fun game. In the end, though, Utah State has the depth that I think may be needed in this game to get them the win. I picked a lot of chalk, but I really think the top four in the Mountain West are head and shoulders ahead of the next tier.

Joe’s pick: 2. Boise State

Semifinals – Friday, Mar. 10

1. San Diego State vs. 4. Nevada – 9:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

These two teams split their matchups in the season, with both home teams winning by exactly 9 points. I think this is going to be a game that may come down to the last possession. The tiebreaker for me is San Diego State’s defense is the best unit on the floor, and I think it will be able to do just enough to win.

Joe’s pick: 1. San Diego State

2. Boise State vs. 3. Utah State – Midnight on CBS Sports Network

These teams played each other just a couple of days ago, and Utah State won by 13 at home. I think it gets flipped this time. The combo of Tyson Degenhart and Max Rice is going to be too much for Utah State to keep up with, and I think Boise State propels themselves to the championship off of it.

Joe’s pick: 2. Boise State

Finals – Saturday, Mar. 11

1. San Diego State vs. 2. Boise State – 6 p.m. on CBS

This would be a very exciting championship game. They split their regular season matchups, and both teams offer elite defenses. Degenhart and Rice were able to do enough against Utah State in the semis, but I think it is Matt Bradley of San Diego State this time that has a great game and is able to score. If he gets going, the defense is tough to score on, and I think it is enough for San Diego State to bring home the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship.

Joe’s pick: 1. San Diego State

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