Two teams from the Mountain West conference made it into the 2019 NCAA Tournament, but both stopped dancing after the first round.
The Nevada Wolf Pack and the Utah State Aggies came in as no. 7 and 8 seeds respectively.
During the first day of the first round, the Wolf Pack made an exit by losing 70-61 to the Florida Gators. The Gators held an 18-point lead but the win could’ve easily slipped away. With two minutes left, it was only a four-point lead.
Nevada’s season might be over, but the 2018-19 was a good one for the program. The team shared a piece of the MW regular season title. Nevada was ranked all season, going as high as No. 5 — the highest ranking in school history.
With the talent in the roster and the results they had already shown, the expectations were high. Unfortunately, the team struggled toward the end, losing four of its last nine games.
A look at Nevada's largest in-game deficits this season. The Wolf Pack went 5-4 over the final nine games, trailing by 13 or more in each of the four losses. pic.twitter.com/kM1xROHPRK
— Eli Boettger (@boettger_eli) March 22, 2019
On Friday, the Aggies fell 78-61 to no. 9 seed Washington. The Huskies hadn’t been to the Big Dance since 2011, just like the Aggies.
Washington led 40-28 after the first period was over. While turning things around was going to be a tough challenge, the Aggies did it… almost.
With 10 minutes remaining, a three-pointer by Sam Merrill put Utah State within one at 54-53. After this, sophomore guard Nahziah Carter either made or assisted with the next 11 points to help Washington dominate again.
Utah State was a surprise this season. The Aggies were predicted to finish ninth in the MW during preseason, but head coach Craig Smith promised to get the team to the top of the conference.
He did it, which led him to become the MW Coach of the Year.Utah State, ranked 25th in the nation coming into the tournament, won the MW regular season and also the championship in Las Vegas.