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MWC 3rd best conference in RPI; Repped well on ESPN, CBS polls

The Mountain West Conference stands as the third best conference in the nation in RPI and second in the nation according to USA Today's Jeff Sagarin. MW Connection looks at these two polls as well as ratings from and ESPN.

A fan of the New Mexico lobos
A fan of the New Mexico lobos

Things are looking good for the Mountain West Conference in the polls - and they're looking even better in terms of ratings today.

In today's RPI ratings, the MWC has six teams in the top 40 and held on to its ranking as the 3rd best conference in the nation ahead of Big 5 members the ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC:

  • No. 11 the New Mexico Lobos -- 15-2, 2-0 MWC, Strength of Schedule No. 14
  • No. 24 UNLV Runnin' Rebels -- 13-3, 1-1, SOS No. 46
  • No. 25 Colorado St. Rams -- 11-3, 1-1, SOS 70
  • No. 28 Boise St. -- 11-2, 1-0, SOS 101
  • No. 29 San Diego St. -- 12-2, 2-0, SOS 91
  • No. 37 Wyoming -- 12-1, 1-1, SOS 150

USA Today's Jeff Sagarin today (Monday) has the MWC rated second best in the nation collectively just ahead of the Big East (which is 3rd in RPI) behind the Big 10 Conference.

Like RPI, Sagarin has six MWC teams in the top 40, albeit in a different order

The rest of the league is rated 120 and below -- the Air Force Falcons at 120, the Fresno St. Bulldogs at 165 and the Nevada Wolf Pack at 173. The Falcons have the lowest strength of schedule in the MWC according to Sagarin at 251.

The MWC also has good representation in the's Top 25 + 1 and ESPN Power Rankings.

In the CBS Top 25+1, SDSU stands at No. 14 and UNM at No. 19 -- though you gotta doubt any poll that has Duke remaining at No. 1 after a loss.

On CBSSports' Mid-major Power Pyramid Matt Norlander has lots of MWC representation with six teams in its 15 -- UNM (No. 4), UNLV (No. 5), SDSU (No. 6), Boise St. (No. 7), Wyoming (No. 8) and CSU at (No. 13) -- and proclaims:

The Mountain West has occupied at least a third of the pyramid all season.

Some (including me) have questioned the MWC's being labled a mid-major by (ESPN does not - thank you Andy "The Chuck Norris of Sports Journalists" Katz). Norlander does address this and even gives the MWC some props:

To repeat: The Mountain West is so ubiquitous in the Pyramid -- and I hear your complaints, MWC fans, about how it shouldn't be in here -- not just because the league has racked up so many wins but because those wins are weighted well in its favor. I've got issues with the RPI in general, but it is a measuring tool used. And in the macro sense for conference assessment, it can signal undeniable good or poor play. The Mountain West is No. 3 in RPI, and it's unlikely/impossible to see how it will drop below No. 4 by the start of the NCAAs. Minimally, this league is getting four teams in. Six is a possibility.

Over at the Aztecs stand at No. 15 in the ESPN power poll, up three spots. The Lobos up four spots at No. 22. UNLV sits unofficially at No. 32 in the poll with nine votes. Boise St. is at No. 34 with 5 votes.

What does all this amount to in the big picture? not much. But it's fun to follow.