March 6, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Mountain West Conference announced its 2004 Men's Basketball Championship bracket tonight with Air Force earning the #1 seed in the tournament to be held at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, March 10-13. #7 Wyoming will meet #2 BYU on Thursday, March 11 at 3:30 pm.
Air Force (22-5, 12-2) claimed the second outright regular-season title in the five-year history of the Mountain West Conference with a league record 12 victories in league play after winning at Wyoming earlier today, 52-47. The previous conference games only highest win total was 11 by Wyoming in 2002 and BYU and Utah in 2003. This is the Falcons first conference title in school history as well as its first winning season since 1978-79. Air Force will face No. 8-seed and defending MWC Tournament champion Colorado State (12-15, 4-10) at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 11, in a quarterfinal match-up. The Rams tied for seventh in the league standings with Wyoming, but the Cowboys claimed the tie-breaker with a split with Utah, while Colorado State was swept by the Utes. The Falcons swept the season series with the Rams, winning both contests by eight points. Air Force is 4-17 all-time in postseason conference tournaments, including 0-4 in the MWC. Colorado State holds a 3-3 mark in the MWC Tournament and is 11-16 all-time in postseason league play.
BYU (20-7, 10-4) will be the No. 2-seed and face No. 7-seed Wyoming (11-16, 4-10) at 3:30 p.m. The Cougars won both regular-season contests vs. the Cowboys and are 22-17 in 19 postseason conference tournament appearances, including 6-3 in the MWC. Wyoming enters the tournament winning three of the last four first round games and is 13-17 in postseason tournaments, including 3-4 in the MWC.
Utah (21-8, 9-5) is the No. 3-seed and will play No. 6-seed San Diego State (14-15, 5-9) in the first quarterfinal game of the day at 1 p.m. The Utes are 3-0 in first-round MWC games and 3-4 overall in the tournament. Utah swept the season series with San Diego State and has posted a 23-17 all-time mark in postseason league play. The Aztecs tied with New Mexico in the conference standings with identical 5-9 records, but the Lobos received the fifth-seed after splitting the season series with Utah, while San Diego State was swept by the Utes. The Aztecs are 3-3 in the MWC Tournament and won the 2002 title. Overall, San Diego State 13-14 in postseason play.
The final game of the day will feature No. 4-seed UNLV (16-11, 7-7) vs. No. 5-seed New Mexico (14-13, 5-9) at 10 p.m. The Runnin' Rebels won both games against the Lobos this season and enter next week's action with a league-best 7-2 mark in MWC Tournament play. UNLV has played in the championship game each of the three years it has appeared in the tournament, winning the title in 2000. New Mexico is 2-4 in the MWC Tournament, but holds an all-time conference postseason mark of 24-18.