With another week of very exciting Mountain West action in the books, let’s hop into this week’s rankings—the first of the new month!
1. Boise State
Boise State took down a blazing-hot New Mexico, who looked unbeatable at home, inside The Pit on Wednesday followed by walloping Air Force by 38 points (69-29 over the final 25 minutes) on Saturday. Thus, they earn this week’s top spot. Boise State owns a share of the Mountain West lead alongside Utah State. They moved into the top-35 in the NET and lead the MW in Quad 1 wins with five. Boise’s the only team in the MW with multiple Quad 1 wins in true road games (2), and have an opportunity to add to that mark this week with a pair of Quad 1 road contests against Colorado State and Utah State.
2. San Diego State
San Diego State’s been Jekyll and Hyde over the last three weeks, but secured an 81-67 win against Utah State at home, where they remain unbeaten. Brian Dutcher’s decision to shift the starting lineup—moving Micah Parrish and Elijah Saunders to the bench for Darrion Trammell and Jay Pal—more than reaped benefits in its 14-point win. Pal was perfect ... literally ... scoring a season-high 16 points with seven rebounds, one steal and two blocks on 5-of-5 shooting with three 3s. Trammell looked every bit of how he did in the latter half of last season, scoring 12 points with two rebounds, three assists and one steal of his own.
3. Utah State
As we outlined above, Utah State suffered a 14-point loss to San Diego State Saturday, losing their lone share of the MW crown. They are one of two teams in the top-7 with just less than three Quad 1 victories, though it was helped out by Colorado State climbing into the top-30 with their 12-point win over Fresno (more on them later). They will have a pair of challenging Quad 2 games against Nevada plus a rematch against Boise, who it went toe-to-toe with last weekend. I have complete faith in the Aggies to bounce back, even though it won’t be easy.
4. New Mexico
New Mexico still leads the MW in NET and KenPom rankings at No. 18 and 19, respectively. But their lone game last week came at the hands of Boise State, losing by eight. Donovan Dent was phenomenal, but Max Rice had the shooting outburst of his life (it’s about time he got going ... right?!?) while Boise State held UNM to 7-of-25 from deep and just 40.9 percent from the floor. They have the fewest Quad 1-2 wins (5) amongst the top-5 and will play three of their next four away from home against Wyoming, Nevada and San Diego State, respectively.
5. Colorado State
Colorado State moves back into the top-5 with two wins last week against San Diego State and Fresno State, respectively. The latter was their first true road win since MW play began. They have a loaded schedule coming up, with six of their next seven against Quad 1 or 2 opponents, beginning with Boise State on Tuesday. They are one of four teams with four losses, so separating themselves from the Pack with this stretch will be crucial as the MW Tournament approaches.
Nevada is winners of just two of their last six games, but put together a statement 30-point victory at home against a struggling San Jose State Friday to climb back to .500 in MW play. It got a pair of strong performances from Jarod Lucas and Nick Davidson, who recorded his first career 20-10 double-double. The Wolf Pack is treading on real thin ice with their NCAA Tournament hopes and will have three consecutive Quad 1 games (two at home) that could make or break their NCAA Tournament chances (assuming they don’t win the MW Tournament).
UNLV secured its third straight win Saturday against Wyoming; its other two wins have came over San Jose State and Fresno State, so the competition may not be the best relative to the rest of the MW teams. But after UNLV’s loss to Air Force, it’s beating the teams they should be beating, which is all you can ask for. It now starts a stretch of three of four on the road, beginning with New Mexico on Saturday in their only game this week.
Wyoming earned an 11-point win against Air Force but posted its worst offensive output of the season in Las Vegas Saturday against UNLV. The Pokes scored just 48 points—82.8 points per 100 possessions—on just 41.6 percent true shooting. They missed on 21 of their 25 3-point attempts and converted on barely half (14-27) of their attempts from inside the arc. They have lost four of their five true road games away from home since the start of MW play and are 1-8 in such games this season with an adjusted NET Rating of minus-5.3 in those games.
9. Fresno State
The Bulldogs lost two straight to UNLV and Colorado State this week, giving them a 2-7 record in conference play through the first half. Their only two wins have come against San Jose State and Air Force, the two worst teams in the conference. Coincidentally enough, it will face both of those teams on the road this next week before it runs into a stretch of five of six against Q1 opponents.
10. San Jose State
The Spartans jumped out a 6-5 lead in Friday’s game ... before Nevada followed up with a 62-18 run. They ended up getting boatraced by 30, even after Nevada took its foot off the gas. SJSU has now lost eight of their nine MW games, including its last four by an average of 20.8 points.
11. Air Force
Full disclosure: I had SJSU in this spot until ... well, you know ... Air Force lost by 38. Either way, while the top of the MW is phenomenal, the bottom three of the MW is a combined 4-23 in MW play with an average point differential of minus-10.1 points in those games. Not great!