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Mountain West Conference women’s basketball suffers from identity crisis

UPDATED: Tue., March 13, 2018, 5:12 p.m.

Boise State forward A’Shanti Coleman, left, and guard Riley Lupfer  embrace in celebration after their 62-60 win over Nevada in last week’s  Mountain West Conference Tournament title game  in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow / AP)
Boise State forward A’Shanti Coleman, left, and guard Riley Lupfer embrace in celebration after their 62-60 win over Nevada in last week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament title game in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow / AP)

After the NCAA stuck the Gonzaga women with a No. 13 seed Monday night, surely the get-out-of-the-West-Coast-Conference crowd gained a few more followers.

That is, until they bothered to check out the rest of the bracket.

For men’s basketball, life in the Mountain West Conference could mean more money and some better seeding come March.

Not so for the women, where again the MWC is a one-bid conference.

And what a bid it was for the regular-season and tournament champion Boise State Broncos, whose 23-9 record got them a No. 16 seed and a first-round game at top-seeded Louisville.

Boise State leader Riley Lupfer, a former star at Lewis and Clark High School, didn’t appreciate the news.

“They probably don’t even know where Boise’s at,” Lupfer said.

In the women’s game, the MWC has an identity crisis worse than anything in the WCC, where at least Gonzaga has a regional reputation and BYU has some record of success.

Along with Colorado State and UNLV – both of which beat the Zags this year – BSU has fielded solid teams, but none has made much noise in March.

The conference has more balance at the top, but the bottom feeders are just as awful.

The bottom line: While the WCC ranked 14th (out of 32 leagues) in strength of schedule, the Mountain West was even worse, at 16th.

The numbers at the bottom end are comparable. In the WCC, the bottom three teams this year were Pepperdine (236th in RPI), Santa Clara (288), and Portland (318).

In the Mountain West, the strength of schedule killers are San Diego State (270), San Jose State (277), Air Force (288) and Utah State (315).

In other words, be careful what you wish for, Zags fans.