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Stats Corner: The Best Teams in the Mountain West

Analyzing the NET rankings for the top 5 Basketball teams.

Utah State v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Last time, Stats Corner looked at the bottom 6 teams in the Mountain West, according to the NET rankings. This week, we are looking at the top 5 teams and their post season chances. The Mountain West top to bottom is a better basketball conference when compared to last year. Last year, the fifth best team in the conference was Boise State with a NET ranking of 154, this year the fifth best team is still Boise State but, they have improved their ranking to 104. Nevada was the topped ranked team at 23rd while San Diego State is 2nd this year. If you need a refresher on the NET rankings, click here for a Stats Corner write-up. And the NET team sheets, as of January 29th, can be found here. Quick note, when the last Stats Corner was written Colorado State was listed as the 6th best team with a 124th ranking. The Rams are currently ranked 103rd which would be the fourth best Mountain West team in the rankings if they had been ranked this week.

San Diego

NET Ranking 2. Average NET Win 166 Average Net Loss 0.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 20-0 7-0 162

Non-Conference 10-0 2-0 110

Q1 4-0

Q2 3-0

Q3 4-0

Q4 9-0

One of the surprises in the MWC has been the Aztecs, who are the last undefeated team in the country. They started as the top ranked NET team, but have slipped due to strength of schedule. That is going to be argument against the Aztecs, the lack of Q1 wins. They have 4: Iowa, Creighton, BYU, and Utah State, but have no more on the schedule. Number 1 ranked Baylor has 7 Q1 games, having gone 6-1, with another 7 coming up, for a potential of 14 Q1 games and fourth ranked Kansas has played 11 Q1 games, going 8-3, with four left on the schedule. Even 3rd ranked Gonzaga has played 5 Q1 games, with a 4-1 record, and two more on the docket. The best upcoming game for San Diego State is against the Aggies, but is at home, so it counts as a Q2 game. With four Q2 and four Q3 games left, there is a possibility that the Aztecs could be undefeated going into the MWC tournament.

Prediction: NCAA tournament as 2 seed. I think they deserve a top seed, but the committee will come up with a reason to give it to someone else, especially if the Aztecs lose one game.

Utah State

NET Ranking 57. Average NET Win 177 Average Net Loss 83.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 15-6 2-4 141

Non-Conference 9-2 0-1 123

Q1 2-3

Q2 1-2

Q3 3-1

Q4 9-0

The other big surprise in the MWC, and unfortunately not in a good way, has been the Aggies. Two early Q1 wins against LSU and Florida are a nice boost, and the Q1 losses to St. Mary’s and BYU are not bad. But the stretch against Boise State (still don’t understand how they lost), UNLV (good thing the loses stop at 10 points), and Air Force (how?) was painful. A mid-50 ranking would probably get them into the Big Dance without winning the MWC tournament. A Q1 win against San Diego State would be a huge boost. But with the rest of the games being Q2, Q3, and Q4, that is the only stumble the Aggies could allow themselves without winning the MWC automatic bid.

Prediction: NCAA tournament as a 10th seed. That is assuming either the Aztecs or Aggies with the MWC tournament. If another team wins, I don’t see the committee letting 3 Mountain West teams getting in and the Aggies will be on the outside looking in.

Nevada

NET Ranking 84. Average NET Win 167 Average Net Loss 72.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 13-8 1-5 48

Non-Conference 7-5 0-2 28

Q1 0-4

Q2 0-3

Q3 9-0

Q4 4-1

The Wolfpack have had a good strength of schedule. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to capitalize on it. O-4 in Q1 with 3 loses in double digits and 0-3 in Q2 with two in double digits hurts the resume. A Q4 loss to San Jose State also hurts. The good news is the Wolfpack still has chances to improve. A Q1 game home against San Diego State would be an enhancement, and four Q2 games are left but all are away. Nevada must also will their last four Q4 games, 3 of which are at home, to move up the rankings.

Prediction: Only way into the NCAA tournament is winning the MWC tournament. A good NIT seed is possible.

Boise State

NET Ranking 104. Average NET Win 185 Average Net Loss 86.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 12-8 2-6 124

Non-Conference 7-4 1-2 220

Q1 1-3

Q2 2-3

Q3 4-2

Q4 5-0

How in the world does the team who was doing 18 to Utah State with 4 minutes left, and 5 points with 8 seconds left and win, also beat BYU lose to UN Irvine and Air Force? The Broncos are a solid team, and are good for bringing up the overall conference ranking, but not good enough to make post-season noise. The Broncos still have two Q1 games left, home against San Diego State and away against Utah State. Other than a Q2 game against UNLV, the rest of the schedule is Q3 and Q4 games. Unless the Broncos can pull a Q1 upset, it is going to be difficult for them to move up the rankings to get any tournament bid.

Prediction: Lower tournament such as CBI or College Insider tournament.

New Mexico

NET Ranking 119. Average NET Win 198 Average Net Loss 125.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 15-6 2-5 217

Non-Conference 10-2 1-1 161

Q1 1-1

Q2 1-3

Q3 3-1

Q4 10-1

The Lobos beat Wisconsin to gain a Q1 win, but then lost to UTEP and San Jose State for Q3 and Q4 loses. Only one win in both Q1 and Q2 quadrants isn’t going to help, this is the classic case of not playing quality opponents. A team can rank up a lot of wins, but when it comes to post-season chances, the wins are not going to count for a lot. New Mexico still have two Q1 and two Q2 games left on the schedule, but will need to win all four to make any noise in the post season.

Prediction: Staying home.