There’s a new Mountain West in the Top-25 rankings and it’s the team in first place in the standings, the Wyoming Cowboys. Having won its last six games, Wyoming has skyrocketed into first place in the standings, first place in the rankings, and up many bracketology projections. I know I just gave away who is in first place in this week’s rankings, but the way the Cowboys are playing, it’s hard to make a case for anyone else to be ahead of them. So, let’s see how the rankings shake out after Wyoming in this week’s power rankings:
The Cowboys are now in the Top-25 rankings after compiling a 21-3 record and going 10-1 to start conference play. This is the first time Wyoming has been in the Top-25 since 2014, which is also the last time it made the NCAA Tournament. It looks like the Cowboys will be heading back to the NCAA Tournament either as the Mountain West champions or as an at-large team this year.
2) Colorado State
The Rams are riding a four-game winnings streak and picked up an important road win at Boise State. Colorado State needed to add a good conference win to its resume and getting one at Boise State was a much-needed win, after losing to Wyoming and UNLV earlier in conference play. It appears the Rams are turning the corner after the earlier losses and might be playing their best basketball as the season ends.
3) Boise State
The Broncos could not close the deal against Colorado State at home last Sunday, suffering a 77-74 defeat. While it is not a bad loss by any stretch, having a win against the Rams on their resume would not have hurt at all when it comes to seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Boise State has the benefit of having home games against some of the top teams to close out the season. And in the season finale, they have Colorado State in Fort Collins, which could send a message as the Mountain West tournament begins.
4) San Diego State
The Aztecs have been sitting in fourth place in the standings and rankings for the past couple of weeks. Tonight, San Diego State has a crucial game against Utah State. A win against the Aggies could avenge its loss from a few weeks ago might move San Diego State from just out to of the projected NCAA Tournament field, to just in. The Aztecs also have tough road games against Fresno State, Boise State, and Wyoming, which are all opportunities to get off the bubble and establish themselves as threats in the Mountain West tournament.
5) Utah State
The Aggies’ at-large bubble is all but popped after an overtime loss at Wyoming and crushing home defeat against Nevada. The good news is Utah State can possibly win out, they do have to beat San Diego State and Boise State on the road. Winning those two games would be a great start to getting back on the bubble. The bad news is Utah State is 15-11. It’s not often you see an 11-loss mid-major team on the bubble and its margin for error is razor-thin.
6) Fresno State
The Bulldogs had a tough week, as they suffered losses to both Wyoming and Colorado State. Credit needs to be given to the Fresno State defense, who held two of the top offenses in the Mountain West to 65 points or less in those two games. But Fresno State’s offense could not break the 60 point range in either game. Fresno State is one of those teams that if they can get hot on offense, they can beat some of the top teams, but its offense needs to be consistent if it wants to make a run on the Mountain West tournament.
The Wolf Pack pulled off a surprise win at Utah State, where they won 85-72. Nevada outscored Utah State 53-35 in the second half. Having Grant Sherfield back helped, as did getting 27 points from Desmond Cambridge. Even though Nevada has struggled this year, if Sherfield and Cambridge can go off for a big scoring night, Nevada will give any team fits in the conference tournament.
The Runnin’ Rebels dropped a tough one on the road at Boise State. Even with Bryce Hamilton producing another 30-plus point game, it still wasn’t enough, further exemplifying a common theme this season for UNLV that it cannot rely on just Hamilton to provide the offense. UNLV is still without Donovan Williams and it is hurting its offense. Looking at the rest of the season, UNLV host Colorado State, Boise State, and Wyoming, all are winnable games if UNLV is fully healthy.
9) New Mexico
The Lobos have won three of their last four games, one was a non-conference game against Northern New Mexico. The other two were against Air Force and San Jose State. New Mexico has suffered a couple of close losses and has shown they can hang with some of the top Mountain West teams, as it averages 76.5 PPG. So any game against the Lobos will not be an easy one.
10) Air Force
The Falcons have dropped their last five games. Air Force has the worst offense in the Mountain West, only averaging 59.4 PPG and having a margin of -5.1. The road this week will be challenging if they want to snap that streak, as they face Boise State and Wyoming this week. Air Force will close out the regular season with games at New Mexico and San Jose State at home.
11) San Jose State
The Spartans are still winless and are on a 12-game losing streak. Their last six losses have been by 10 or more points. Looking at the positives for San Jose State’s offense averages the same amount of points as San Diego State (65.2) and its defense allows fewer points (72.4) than Nevada (74.8) and New Mexico (76.2).