Monday, May 4, 2009

Assessing postseason prospects for SDSU, USD

Here's how things shape up for San Diego State and USD as they approach the final two weeks of the regular season:

They control their destiny in the Mountain West Conference, thanks to UNLV taking two of three games over the weekend against New Mexico. By that, I mean that SDSU could still finish among the top two teams in the MWC and earn a first-round bye in the upcoming conference tournament.

Here's the top four teams in the standings:
TCU 10-4
New Mexico 12-8
BYU 11-8
SDSU 10-8

If SDSU closes out the season with sweeps over Air Force and Utah, then the Aztecs would finish percentage points ahead of both New Mexico and BYU, which had MWC games rained out earlier this season that can't be made up. That means neither the Lobos nor the Cougars could get to 16 wins. BYU finishes up conference play this week when it hosts UNLV. New Mexico closes out conference play next week at home against Air Force. TCU has two series remaining — hosting Utah this week before traveling next week to UNLV.

Obviously, the Aztecs are hoping to win the MWC Tournament and claim the automatic NCAA Tournament berth that comes with it. A strong finish down the stretch could enable the Aztecs to earn an at-large berth, however. It would be the first at-large awarded in the MWC's 10-year history.

By the way, SDSU is preparing to put in a bid to host an NCAA Regioanal or Super Regional. The Aztecs still need to play their way into such a scenario — UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Arizona State are the most likely West Coast sites — but bids are due by May 15 so the paperwork must be filed just in case the opportunity presents itself.

Loyola Marymount's three-game sweep of USD was devastating to the Toreros' chances of playing in the West Coast Conference Championship Series.

Here's the top three teams in the standings:
Gonzaga 12-6
Loyola Marymount 12-6
USD 10-8

The only way for USD to reach the championship series is by sweeping this weekend's home series against USF AND a three-game sweep by either LMU or Gonzaga when the teams meet next week in Spokane, Wash. Pretty unlikely scenario, although stranger things have happened. Injuries that have plagued USD throughout the season seem to have finally caught up with the Toreros, whose at-large chances also are all but gone.

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