We are officially one week into basketball season and it’s time to rank the teams in the Mountain West. These are our first power rankings of the season and all season long we will keep you updated on where the teams in the Mountain West stand in these rankings. It was tough to do these with everyone playing just a few games, as some teams were ranked higher or lower based on single-game performance. But as the season goes on, these rankings will be easier to put together as the teams separate themselves. Without further ado, here are the rankings for the first week:
1) Colorado State
The Rams are the Rams, it is not surprising at all to see them roll through the early portion of their schedule. Colorado State has averaged 96 points per game after dominating wins against Oral Roberts, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Peru State. Yes, it is not a murder’s row of opponents, but Colorado State will be tested this upcoming week in the Paradise Jam Tournament.
2) Fresno State
It’s been a great start to the season for Justin Hudson and the Fresno State Bulldogs. Orlando Robinson is averaging a double-double with 20 points per game and 11 rebounds. They get a pair of decent WCC teams, Pepperdine and Santa Clara, on the road which should be a nice measuring stick to learn how legitimate this Bulldog team is heading into the rest of non-conference play.
3) San Diego State
Despite being 1-1, the Aztecs are still one of the favorites in the Mountain West. The Aztecs are coming off a close road loss at BYU 66-60. It is just the beginning of a very tough non-conference schedule that includes games against Michigan, Arizona State, and Georgetown. There should be no reason for concern right now with the Aztecs after losing to a possible NCAA Tournament team, we will wait and see to know more about the Aztecs, and see if they are clicking when it comes conference play.
The Runnin’ Rebels are undefeated under new head coach Kevin Kruger. All of their games have been closer than Kruger and many UNLV fans would have liked, but they will take the 3-0 start. Bryce Hamilton and Royce Hamm Jr. have both been outstanding, with Hamilton averaging 17 PPG and Hamm leading the conference in rebounding with 13.7 per game. This weekend, UNLV gets into the meat of its non-conference schedule with Michigan and either Wichita State or Arizona in the Roman Main Event.
The 2-0 Cowboys are hanging their hat on their defense two games into this season. They lead the conference in points allowed per game with 46. And they quietly have two of the top-10 scorers in the conference with Graham Ike (third with 21.5 PPG) and Hunter Maldonado (sixth with 17.5 PPG). The Cowboys have not played the toughest schedule to start, but it is a good sign for Jeff Linder to see his group get off to a good start and build momentum with two tough road games this week against Washington and Grand Canyon.
6) Utah State
The Aggies picked up a huge non-conference win on the road against Richmond in the Veterans Classic. Justin Bean went off with a double-double of 30 points and 14 rebounds. But, they did lose their opening night game at home against UC Davis, which could have had them down further in the rankings, if not for the win against Richmond. There are still plenty of opportunities on Utah State’s non-conference schedule to redeem that loss and build up its resume.
7) New Mexico
New Mexico is off to a 2-1 start in the Richard Pitino era. Home wins against Florida Atlantic and Grambling State, along with a somewhat competitive showing against Colorado at the road are good showings for the Lobos under their new head coach. Jaelen House is leading the Mountain West averaging 23.3 PPG and Jaal Mashburn Jr. is in the top-10 as well with 17.3 PPG. The Lobos are also second in the conference with 87 PPG and if they continue to produce offensively at this pace, they should turn some heads and be competitive in the Mountain West.
8) Boise State
The Broncos are 1-1 after a dominant win at home against Utah Valley but then dropped their second game at UC Irvine, 58-50. The Anteaters are consistently one of the top teams in the Big West, so it isn’t a bad loss. But things won’t get easier for the Broncos with a game against nationally-ranked St. Bonaventure this week.
9) Air Force
The Falcons had two tough road games to open the season, with a 59-53 loss against South Dakota and a thrilling 59-58 win at Tulsa. Air Force has several more tough games later in the non-conference season and these early season tests could help them in those games later on. Air Force has a very young team and getting a road win at Tulsa could boost the team’s confidence moving forward.
10) San Jose State
The Spartans won their first game, 78-76, over CSU Fullerton in the first game under Tim Miles. It is going to take a lot for Miles to turn San Jose State into a fairly competitive team in the Mountain West on a specific basis. Other teams’ performances and wins placed them ahead of San Jose State in the first rankings, meaning the Spartans could move up. Miles is a good coach and after the first week, he might be the right guy to make San Jose State competitive moving forward.
The Wolf Pack had arguably one of the worst losses in the first week by any Mountain West team, after losing at home to San Diego, from the WCC, 75-68. Nevada did not have a very tough non-conference schedule and could not afford any bad losses if they hoped to make the NCAA Tournament. This week they have two more WCC opponents, Santa Clara and San Francisco on the road. Both are winnable games for the Wolf Pack, but the loss to San Diego shows this team could be beaten at any time.