March 4, 2000
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Mountain West Conference announced its 2000Men?s Basketball Championship bracket tonight, with UNLV earning the No. 1seed in the tournament to be held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas,Nevada March 9-11. UNLV and Utah tied for the regular season title withidentical 10-4 records in conference play. The Runnin' Rebels and Utes splittheir season series, but UNLV received the No. 1 seed in this week'stournament after a tie-breaker involving No. 3-seed New Mexico. The Runnin'Rebels swept the Lobos this season, while Utah split its series with NewMexico. Colorado State is the No. 4 seed, followed by Wyoming (No. 5), BYU(No. 6), Air Force (No. 7) and San Diego State (No. 8). Each of the fourgames in the quarterfinals will feature match-ups where the higher seedswept the lower seed during regular season play.
UNLV captured the No. 1 seed after defeating New Mexico, 80-67, on Saturdayin Las Vegas. The Runnin? Rebels (20-7, 10-4) will play No. 8-seed San DiegoState (5-22, 0-14) at 9 p.m. on Thursday, March. 9 (ESPN). The Runnin?Rebels swept the Aztecs (83-55, 85-64) this season, winning both games byover 20 points. UNLV had a 5-2 overall record in conference tournament playas a member of the Western Athletic Conference from 1996-99 and won thetournament with a 56-51 victory over New Mexico in 1998. San Diego State was10-11 in WAC tournament play and won the 1985 championship. UNLV fell to SMU(71-70) in the quarterfinals of last year?s WAC Tournament, while the Aztecsdid not qualify for post-season play.
No. 2-seed Utah (21-7, 10-4) secured a share of a conference title for thesixth straight year after defeating Air Force, 86-53, Saturday, and willface No. 7 Air Force (8-19, 4-10) at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in thequarterfinals. In addition to Saturday?s win over Air Force, the Utes alsodefeated the Falcons in Colorado Springs earlier this year, 64-63. Utah went20-13 in WAC tournament action and won three titles in 16 years. Air Forceis 4-13 in post-season conference tournaments and is participating in itsfirst league tournament since 1996. Utah won the WAC Tournament in 1999 witha 60-45 victory over New Mexico. The Falcons did not qualify for 1999 WACTournament.
Colorado State garnered the No. 4-seed with a thrilling victory over WyomingSaturday, 79-78. The Rams (18-11, 8-6) and Cowboys (18-11, 8-6) tied forfourth place in the conference standings, but Colorado State received thehigher position after sweeping the season series vs. Wyoming. The No.5-seeded Cowboys will meet the Rams in a quarterfinal game set for 6 p.m. onThursday, March 9. Colorado State is making its 17th consecutive conferencetournament appearance and compiled an 8-16 all-time WAC Tournament record.The Rams played in four WAC tournament semifinal games and one championshipgame, but has never won the title. Wyoming went 10-13 in its WAC tournamenthistory, winning the 1987 championship over New Mexico (64-62), but hascurrently lost eight straight opening round contests. Colorado State fell toFresno State, 80-59, in the first round of last year?s conferencetournament, while Wyoming did not qualify for the WAC Tournament.
New Mexico grabbed the No. 3 seed in the Mtn. West Championship afterfalling at UNLV (80-67) Saturday. The Lobos (17-12, 9-5) will meet No.6-seed BYU (18-9, 7-7) in a first round game at Noon on Thursday. TheCougars finished the season with a 67-50 victory over San Diego State inProvo last Saturday. New Mexico took both contests vs. BYU this season(78-69, 78-74). The Lobos have been a No. 3 seed or higher in 13 of 17post-season tournaments and went 22-14 in the WAC. They claimed titles in 1993 and 1996, and played in four other league championship games, including the previous two. BYU was12-13 in 15 WAC Tournament appearances and was back-to-back champions in1991 and ?92. New Mexico fell in the WAC title game last season to Utah,60-45, while the Cougars dropped an 81-62 decision to the Utes in aquarterfinal game.
Thursday, March 9
12:00 p.m., #3 New Mexico vs. #6 BYU (ESPN Regional Television)
2:30 p.m., #2 Utah vs. #7 Air Force (ESPN Regional Television)
6:00 p.m., #4 Colorado State vs. #5 Wyoming (ESPN Regional Television)
9:00 p.m., #1 UNLV vs. #8 San Diego State (ESPN)
Friday, March 10
6:00 p.m., New Mexico/BYU winner vs. Utah/Air Force winner (ESPN Regional Television)
9:00 p.m., Colorado State/Wyoming winner vs. UNLV/San Diego State winner (ESPN)
Saturday, March 11
7:00 p.m., CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (ESPN)