Finally. After 7 weeks of exciting of MWC, the New Mexico Lobos finally get handed their first loss by the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. With the No.1 spot now up for grabs, it would seem that it is most fitting that Wyoming upgrades to the No.1 spot, though I see that the UNLV Runnin' Rebels are more deserving of the No.1 spot. This is, perhaps, the most important week of the non-conference season for MWC teams to prove their for real with UNLV going to UNC, San Diego State taking on Arizona/Miami, Wyoming traveling down to SMU and New Mexico heading to Cincinnati in what could be the difference between No.1 or No.9.
1. UNLV: The Runnin' Rebels had a great week 7, not only because of their victories over Canisius, UNI and UTEP, who had beaten Oregon, but also because Pittsburgh transfer F Khem Birch made his debut as a Rebel by averaging 11.7 PPG-6.7 RPG thus far. Birch accompanies F Anthony Bennett (19.5 PPG-8.5 RPG) and F Mike Moser (10.9 PPG-8.3 RPG) for the possibly the best frontcourt. UNLV goes to Chapel Hill to face, a recently struggling, UNC team that shouldn't cause to many problems for the Rebels.
2. Wyoming: The Cowboys just can't catch a break. Just when they though they were going to be No.1, their lack of strength of schedule keeps them back. While their 12-0 record can't be ignored and certainly speaks for the talent on the team, their only quality wins came against Colorado and Illinois State while the rest where against cupcakes like Cal State Bakersfield. A win at SMU would help their resume, but until the start of the conference season the Pokes are going to have a hard time proving themselves.
3. San Diego State: The Aztecs are running full throttle since their early season setback against Syracuse, reeling off 11 straight and playing in the Diamond Head Classic finals. G Jamaal Franklin (17.9 PPG-9.9 RPG) has been the focal point of this Aztecs team, although G Chase Tapley (15.5-3.6 RPG) has been the most impressive as of late, scoring 33 points in the Aztecs win over San Francisco. Tapley's recent surge and G Xavier Thames (10.5 PPG-3 APG) add a much needed depth to one of the MWC best backcourts.
4. New Mexico: The Lobos suffered their first loss of the season to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and G Nate Wolters, who had 28 points and 7 assists in the upset. Despite what many Lobos fans may be thinking, it is not time to hit the panic button. True the Lobos may have lost a home to a mid-major, though it was a mid-major who is on track for their 2nd straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the loss will probably serve the Lobos good in the long run. What Lobos fans should be paying more attention to is how New Mexico will fare in their 3 game stretch against Cincinnati, Saint Louis and UNLV.
5. Colorado Rams: The Rams are getting back to their old selves after their 2 game losing streak, with a win over Virginia Tech. CSU could find itself in an unexpected battle with UTEP, who has gotten wins over Oregon and Nebraska.
6. Boise State: The Brocnos had an easy week 7, with wins over New Orleans and in-state rival Idaho. Their next 2 out of 3 games are against non Div-1 schools, to the Broncos should easily have a 12-2 record before heading into Conference play, providing they beat UT-Arlington.
7. Nevada: The Wolf Pack are making a late non-conference season comeback after beating Cal State San Marcos and extending their winning streak to 4 games. While entering the NCAA Tournament bubble seems like a stretch, despite the recent improvements, it is certainly more plausable than it was at the beginning of the season, especially if guards Deonte Burton (16.8 PPG-3.3 APG) and Malik Story (15.8 PPG-3.7 RPG) continue to impress.
8. Air Force: The Falcons head into their toughest game of their non conference schedule, heading down to the sunshine state to take on the Florida Gators, which would provide the biggest win in years for the Falcons, granted they win.
9.Fresno State: The Bulldogs once again find themselves at the bottom of the MWC and just a grasp away from glory, hanging around with UCLA, though ultimately coming up short and proving once again that they could not compete in the Pac 12, going 0-3 against Pac 12 teams. The MWC isn't the Pac 12, in fact it is much tougher, so either someone besides G Allen Huddleston (11.1 2.3 APG) will have to average more than 10 points in a game or Fresno State will continue to struggle.