If Air Force wins its remaining home games against TCU and Colorado State, and the top three teams in the conference finish strong, it’s not out of the question that the Falcons – once 1-7 in the conference – could play in the matchup between the No. 4 and 5 seeds in the conference tournament quarterfinals.
The 4/5 game is huge this year because the top three of New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State are clearly the class of the league, and they’ll play the sixth through eighth seeds to open the MW tournament. Avoiding them in the quarterfinals would be big.
Air Force has won two in a row and even though it is tied for last place at 3-7, it is also only two games out of fourth place. Colorado State and TCU are tied for fourth and fifth at 5-5, and Wyoming is in sixth place at 4-6.
If the Falcons get to 5-9, fifth place isn’t out of the question. Here’s a look at why, and why the Mountain West seeding situation could become a jumbled mess:
Colorado State (5-5): The Rams have New Mexico (home), at San Diego State, UNLV (home) and at Air Force remaining. If Air Force can win the season finale, that could possibly be an 0-4 stretch for the Rams.
TCU (5-5): The Horned Frogs play at Air Force, New Mexico (home), at Wyoming and San Diego State (home) remaining. Again, if New Mexico and San Diego State play to their potential, Wyoming holds serve at home and Air Force wins at home, 0-4 isn’t out of the question.
Wyoming (4-6): The Cowboys go to San Diego State, then get Boise State (home), TCU (home) and finish at UNLV. That’s probably the easiest schedule of the bottom five teams, but still some potential losses in that slate.
All of those teams could tie at 5-9 with every team splitting against the other. The second tiebreaker is “best win.” (The third tiebreaker is RPI rankings as of March 3.) Air Force and Colorado State have a win against San Diego State; Wyoming and TCU have a win against UNLV (none of the potential 5-9 teams have beat first-place New Mexico).
If any of those teams gains a win against one of the top three teams down the stretch, that would change the pecking order. If not, and San Diego State gets the No. 2 seed, that would move Air Force, and perhaps Colorado State as well, to the front of the line in the tiebreaker – and in the Falcons’ best case scenario, that could land them in the game between the fourth and fifth seeds. That’s not out of the realm of possibility for Air Force, and it would make for a much easier path to the Mountain West semifinals.