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Bern’s-Eye View: Forecasting Mountain West Basketball Week 16

Image

Associated Press

Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. (22) is passed by Fresno State’s Cezar Guerrero, center, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.

The Rebel Room

Mystery box

Las Vegas Sun sports writers Ray Brewer and Taylor Bern have given up trying to predict UNLV's performances as the Rebels responded from an ugly home loss to go win by eight at New Mexico.

We’ve got a week and a half left in the regular season, and there are two races worth watching.

The first, of course, is at the top, where San Diego State and Boise State will battle Saturday evening in what could be the de facto conference championship game. The Aztecs hold a one-game lead on Boise and a 1.5 game lead on Wyoming, so if SDSU wins, it’s all but over.

If the Broncos win, they’ll be tied for first with a sweep against San Diego State. However, Wyoming could stay in the group with wins tonight against Fresno State and Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. Plus, Colorado State is still lingering around there.

Personally, I’m hoping Boise State wins just so we can have some chaos at the top. That’s always more fun than a clear-cut winner.

The other race is between UNLV and Fresno State, as both teams attempt to avoid the play-in games. Trust me, nobody wants to play at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday for the privilege of meeting (likely) either San Diego State or Boise State the following day.

So Saturday’s slate holds the real intrigue, but just for fun, let’s throw out some picks for tonight’s games as well:

TODAY

UNR (plus-6.5) at Air Force

6 p.m., Root Sports/Mountain West Network

• I was tempted to go with Air Force because I think they’re a little more consistent, while UNR could just no-show. But with two teams this bad at the end of the season, I feel safer taking the points. The only thing I know for sure is I won’t be watching this one.

Pick: UNR

San Jose State (plus-26.5) at Colorado State

6 p.m., Mountain West Network

• The Rams have a top-30 RPI and a good shot at making the NCAA Tournament, but they can’t afford to mess around. Their RPI will take a hit just by playing this game, and coach Larry Eustachy wants to get his team rolling in its home finale, so I expect a blood bath.

Pick: Colorado State

Fresno State (plus-6.5) at Wyoming

6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

• Wyoming’s Larry Nance is expected to return after missing the last four games with mononucleosis. I don’t think very highly of the Bulldogs, but even if Nance comes back, I think it’ll take Wyoming a little time to get back into rhythm. Plus, Wyoming is 1-4 ATS in its last five home games.

Pick: Fresno State

Last week: 6-4

Season: 102-85-2

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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