A week ago, it would have taken an “unforeseen meltdown” for Nevada not to make the tournament. The possibility of a meltdown became a reality when Nevada lost to its rival from the South, UNLV, 86-78 in heartbreaking fashion. The Rebels ended Nevada’s 16-game home winning streak, which lasted over a calendar year.
Nevada’s leading scorer Caleb Martin missed the game after aggravating a foot injury at the end of the the previous game against Colorado State. The injury leads to the bigger question of why Eric Musselman keeps his starters on the floor, even with a game in hand. Martin’s health is the key to Nevada’s success and a possible deep NCAA tournament run this season. The UNLV loss showed how crucial Caleb Martin is to the Nevada offense.
Luckily, Martin seemingly had a quick recovery and the Pack bounced back from its loss against UNLV with a win against San Diego State. After being tied at the half, the Wolf Pack demolished the Aztecs in the second half and finished with a 83-58 victory.
In a week of .500 basketball, the Wolf Pack clung to a spot in the AP Top 25 at no. 24, one ranking lower than last week.
Meanwhile, Boise State got upset by Utah State Saturday night in Logan. The Broncos led 34-27 at the end of the first half. The Aggies tied the game at 45 with 12:55 left in the game. Back and forth the teams went until Utah State’s Sam Merrill hit a three pointer with 4:58 left. The Aggies never looked back and won 71-65. With the loss, Boise State fell to 10-3 in conference play. Boise State fell to the “First 4 Out” category in both ESPN’s and CBSSports’ bracketology.
Nevada and Boise State play each other this Wednesday in Boise. Nevada is a 53.6 percent favorite to win the game according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. A Nevada win means they can essentially coast to a regular season Mountain West conference title. A Boise State loss would end the Broncos’ chance at getting into the tournament with an at-large bid. Instead, Boise would have to win the Mountain West tournament held in Las Vegas from March 7 to March 10.
If Boise wins the Valentine’s Day showdown with the Pack, it will not only keep their tournament hopes alive but also their hopes of winning the conference in the regular season. Boise State winning would give them a .5 game lead in the standings. Nevada still has the resume to advance to the tournament with a loss Wednesday night, provided they continue their current level of play throughout the remainder of the season.