A very promising conference basketball season begins Tuesday night for the Mountain West Conference when San Diego State hosts New Mexico.

The conference has a legitimate chance at getting three teams into the NCAA tournament based on the strong nonconference play of its top four teams — Brigham Young (14-1), New Mexico (14-1), UNLV (12-2) and San Diego State (11-3).

Just as the Lobos and Aztecs get things going with a tough matchup, BYU and UNLV play one another Wednesday night in Provo, Utah.

BYU has been playing explosive offensive basketball behind star guard Jimmer Fredette, who set a school-record and tied the conference record with 49 points last week during a 30-point trouncing of Arizona that represented the Wildcats’ worst margin of defeat in the McKale Center, one of the toughest venues to win at west of the Mississippi River.

Elsewhere, Colorado State (9-5) has matched last season’s win total and Air Force (8-5) is two victories away from matching its win total. Colorado State opens conference play Wednesday at Wyoming (7-7), while Air Force visits TCU (7-7).

Utah (7-7) has a bye which might be bad timing after the Utes rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to win at LSU last Saturday. The Utes start conference play Saturday by hosting TCU.

For a stellar look at the Mountain West entering conference play, read this: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/mwest/home.htm

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