The holidays are here! Thanksgiving week and, from a college basketball perspective, feast week is past us! Now let’s hop into our final November Mountain West power rankings of the 2023-24 men’s college basketball basketball season!
1. Colorado State
We have a new No. 1! Are we going to see a more impressive MW win this season than Colorado State’s 21-point win over then-No. 8 Creighton Thursday? It’s a joy to watch Colorado State’s offense operate, and its defense has looked very promising this early in the season relative to expectations. Colorado State is back, and might be here to stay in the long-term this season if Isaiah Stevens continues to play like a MW POY candidate with a strong supporting cast.
2. San Diego State
San Diego State, who dropped to No. 2 in our rankings this week, is still one of the best defensive teams in the nation. It battled through their second consecutive overtime victory over Cal this week courtesy of Reese Dixon-Waters’ 24-point, seven-rebound performance. I wouldn’t be worried at all if I’m an Aztec fan, even if the results aren’t as dominant as you’d expect.
3. New Mexico
We still haven’t seen an extended sample of what this squad will look like with a fully healthy Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn. But Donovan Dent continues to exceed expectations in lieu of House’s absence, averaging 21.0 points, 7.5 assists and 1.3 steals over his last four games. I sound like a broken record when I say I love New Mexico’s freshmen JT Toppin and Tru Washington, who keep producing in ancillary rotation roles early in the season.
Nevada did not play this week, which is why they dropped two spots in this week’s rankings. They’ve still looked like arguably the most dominant team in the conference and will look to continue that trek throughout December. They will play two games this week against Montana and Loyola Marymount, who are currently No. 206 and 108, respectively.
5. Utah State
Since the most recent MW Power Rankings were released, the Aggies picked up a dominant 30-point victory over Stephen F. Austin, outscoring them 47-25 in the second half on the back of better 3-point shooting and stout defense. The Aggies ended up being Cayman Island Classic champions with three victories over Marshall, Akron and Stephen F. Austin, which are expected to be two Quad 3 wins with one Quad 2 win. Danny Sprinkle’s quickly establishing his defensive-minded identity with this Aggies squad, and it’s paying off!
6. Boise State
The Broncos drop to No. 6 on this week’s rankings; they continued their brutal non-conference stretch with two losses to Virginia Tech and Butler this week with one victory against VCU. The Broncos sheared up their struggles on the glass, but have still had difficulties producing halfcourt offense, albeit against two top-65 defenses and another that ranks inside the top-105. It has not been easy sledding for the Broncos, and it will not be easier any time soon with Saint Mary’s on the slate this week.
7. San Jose State
San Jose State picked up a 19-point win over Hampton on Nov. 20 after a huge bounce-back performance from Alvaro Cardenas, who had 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and five 3s with four rebounds, one assist and two steals. Though Myron Amey Jr. was selected to the all-tournament team after averaging 16.0 points, 4.7 assists and two steals, and looks like one of SJSU’s best shot-creators early this season.
Wyoming’s lone game this week was a 23-point loss over No. 16-ranked Texas, who limited the Pokes to just 4-of-13 from 3-point range after entering with a 3-point percentage north of 40 percent entering the contest. This was a good test for Wyoming’s backcourt in Akuel Kot and Sam Griffin, who have looked like one of the MW’s best backcourt duos through the first few weeks.
9. Air Force
Welcome back, Rytis Petraitis! The 6-foot-7 wing put together an 18-point, six-rebound outing in Air Force’s one-point win over South Dakota over the weekend. The Falcons have already played eight games—with six wins—despite it being a very light non-conference slate.
The Runnin’ Rebels suffered two tough losses in the Sunshine Slam to Florida State, who won the tournament, and Richmond. The Rebels continue to struggle from the 3-point range with an above-average 3-point rate, despite being very efficient from inside-the-arc. Their opponents’ 3-point shooting luck will regress at some point, and it doesn’t help they’ve faced three top-50 shooting squads. Their tough trek continues against Akron this week followed by non-conference stints against Dayton, Loyola Marymount, Creighton and Saint Mary’s in the coming weeks.
11. Fresno State
The Bulldogs come in as the last place in this week’s rankings, getting trucked by No. 22 James Madison by 31 in their most recent meeting to James Madison Monday. They’re turning over roughly a quarter of their possessions, which obviously isn’t a good recipe for success. They have a couple of solid shot creators in Isaiah Hill and Donovan Yap, but the turnover problem will have to be cleaned up ahead of its contests against UC Santa Barbara and, most importantly, BYU, a top-25 defense nationwide.