Better late than never. Welcome to the first edition of the MWCConnection Power Rankings, basketball style. After several seasons of falling off the map in terms of national respect, the Mountain West has seen a resurgence this winter with several teams in play for an NCAA Tournament bid. San Diego State is dominating, and is the conference’s best bet for elite seeding, even possibly the #1 seed if this undefeated run continues.
The Aztecs are #1 in these rankings, where does everyone else rank? Feel free to comment about how terrible these rankings are.
1. San Diego State
The Aztecs defeated Nevada, despite some first half struggles. The Aztecs moved up to #2 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, and are now an absurd 19-0, 8-0 in conference play. San Diego State is as elite as they come, and it’s fair to start wondering when/if they’ll lose. Upcoming trip to UNLV/New Mexico? Tricky trip to Colorado Springs? Who knows.
2. Colorado State
C’mon, Aggies fans. You know your team had to be punished for Saturday night’s jaw-dropping thud. Aggies will probably be at #2 next week, but for now Colorado State ranks #2 in this poll, winning four in-a-row and turning a corner after a rough December. Big win at Air Force over the weekend.
3. Utah State
About the Aggies. Man, this team came into 2019-2020 with enormous hype, a Top 20 ranking. They’re still 14-6, but the loss to Boise State has the Aggies sporting four conference losses before even getting to February. Most didn’t think they would have four conference losses all season. Hell, some wondered if they’d lose four games altogether in 2019-2020! All is not lost, but this team needs to start living up to its potential before the NCAA tournament is out of reach.
T.J. Otzelberger has breathed life into UNLV basketball. After a lackluster out-of-conference showing, the Rebels now sit at 6-1 in conference play with wins over Utah State and New Mexico. The brutal part of the schedule is still ahead, but the Thomas & Mack should be hopping when the Aztecs come to town this week.
The Wolf Pack lost at Viejas on Saturday, an offense more than forgivable. The Wolf Pack are not a bad team, it just feels weird to see them simply be “above average” after the Martin bros era. The loss to San Jose State was really bad, and the slim win vs. Wyoming wasn’t ideal either, but all-in-all I can’t slip the team that sits at 3rd place in the Mountain West further than 5th in these rankings.
6. New Mexico
It’s hard to argue too much with 15-5, but the Lobos were rocked twice this week. Colorado State and UNLV aren’t easy road games by any means, but still. You’d expect a conference title contenders to provide more resistance than that. Upcoming stretch that features Nevada and San Diego State won’t make things any easier. 4-7 through in these rankings are easily interchangeable.
7. Boise State
Leon Rice’s team was on the brink. Down by 19 with 4:10 left against Utah State, the Broncos were assured a three-game losing streak and Mountain West tournament first round bye aspirations all but gone. Or so we thought. An insane run led by freshman guard RayJ Dennis rallied the Broncos back to send it to overtime. Boise State eventually won, stunning the Aggies. Expect more see-saw action from this team going forward.
8. Air Force
This Falcons team bounces between good showings and underwhelming performances seemingly every other game. Solid showing against Boise State on Wednesday, only to have rival Colorado State win at Clune Arena. Air Force has a solid team, but considering the dark horse contender status bestowed upon them in the preseason, 9-10 feels like a slight let down.
9. Fresno State
My mom, like many moms, told me all the time that if I’ve got nothing good to say, keep my mouth shut. We’ve reached that portion of the rankings. Fresno actually had a fairly decent week, beating Wyoming yesterday and playing San Diego State closer than most the previous game. I’m guessing they’d like to be better than 6-12.
10. San Jose State
The thing about the being ranked 10th is...at least it’s not 11th. The Spartans have two solid conference wins! One over New Mexico, the other over Nevada. Progress.
Times are tough for the Allen Edwards-led Pokes. This is a proud basketball program that won’t tolerate these struggles for much longer. Zero wins in conference play, things are starting to become pretty dire.
Those are this week’s rankings. How far off from reality am I? How many Mountain West teams will make the big dance? Comment below.