We are now one week through the 2023-24 men’s college basketball season, and you know what that means ... new power rankings! Let’s dive into our rankings, discussing the good, bad and ugly from the inaugural week of MW hoops!
1. San Diego State
While San Diego State did lose by nine to BYU, I still have them as the top team in these rankings. The Aztecs faltered down the stretch against Dallin Hall and the Cougars, who outscored San Diego State 32-19 in the final 11 minutes. BYU’s bench—led by Hall—also outscored SDSU 41-9 and was a plus-10 on the glass. Jaedon LeDee has gotten off to a great start, but the Aztecs have yet to find their groove in this very minuscule sample. I trust they will figure it out, though.
2. Boise State
The Broncos began their brutal non-conference stretch Sunday with a five-point win over San Francisco. St. John’s transfer O’Mar Stanley has looked the part off the bench, and then some, averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and a block in 18.5 minutes. I expect Boise’s efficiency inside-the-arc and at the foul line to progress back to the mean, but it’s looked strong on the defensive end with their litany of multi-positional defenders. The road is not going to get any easier for Boise, who will have a tough road test against Clemson on Nov. 19.
Nevada picked up two quality wins, capped by an 83-76 road win over the Washington Huskies Sunday evening. The Huskies were projected to finish No. 9 (of 12) teams in the Pac-12 this year, but ranked inside the top-70, according to Ken Pom, heading into the contest; if you use that as a NET Ranking barometer, it would’ve been a Quad 1 win for the Wolf Pack. Nevada hasn’t shot the ball particularly well from deep yet, but is picking up right where it left off getting to the free-throw line, and lead guard Kenan Blackshear has gotten off to an excellent start. Nevada looks to build off its strong start with home contests against Pacific and Portland this week.
4. New Mexico
The Lobos suffered an 18-point road loss to a nationally-ranked St. Mary’s program, though they were without lead guard Jaelen House due to injury. The Lobos still appear to have quality depth behind Mashburn and House in Tru Washington, Jemarl Baker and J.T. Toppin, who started in place of House. Their lone game this week will be against UT-Arlington, who’s ranked outside KenPom’s top-200.
5. Colorado State
Isaiah Stevens was voted as the preseason player of the year, but you couldn’t have asked for a much better first impression from Colorado transfer Nique Clifford. He tallied 16 points with three steals in the season-opener and 19 points, nine rebounds and a pair of steals in their 28-point win over Wright State Friday. The Rams have also gotten strong contributions from Joel Scott and Patrick Cartier, who are both averaging north of 15 points on very good efficiency over this small two-game sample.
6. San Jose State
One of my biggest questions heading into the new year was how San Jose State was going to look without reigning conference player of the year Omari Moore, who declared for the NBA. So far, the results have been promising. Tibet Gorener has looked like a top-10 player in the conference and Trey Anderson is not that far behind him. The Spartans were one of two teams who played three games this week, but will play just one this week against Abilene Christian on Friday.
UNLV suffered the worst MW loss of the week with its 14-point home loss to Southern after being without transfers Kalib and Keylan Boone. Though it got back on track with a dominant 16-point win over Stetson. Its loss against Southern will likely go down as a Quad 4 loss when it’s all said and done, and perhaps it will end up as the lone blip across a tough non-conference slate that features a half-dozen top-100 programs.
8. Utah State
Utah State was the biggest wild card with zero returning production—no, literally, it did not have any returning production—losing its only Division-I game to Bradley in overtime, 72-66. It will have two games this week against Southern Utah and Marshall, where it hopes to pick up its first Division-I win in the Danny Sprinkle era.
The Pokes’ lone Division-I victory came in a 14-point win over Cal Poly, who is ranked No. 348 out of 362 in Ken Pom’s database. All things considered, they got very good contributions from their newfangled backcourt of Akuel Kot and Sam Griffin. Their non-conference gets a little more juicy coming up with two games away from home against Saint Louis and Texas.
10. Fresno State
Fresno State turned the ball over 22 times in their 79-69 loss on the road to Kent State Saturday; four players—Isaiah Hill, Eduardo Andre, Enoch Boakye and Isaac Tavares—all had at least three. They have the nation’s 11th-worst turnover rate (32.2 percent) through two games, despite ranking in the top-25 in 3-point percentage, 2-point percentage and, thus, effective field goal percentage. This roster has plenty of length and defensive prowess, but it will need to do a better job taking care of the rock if it wants any long term success. They have just one game this week against Morgan State.
11. Air Force
Air Force was the only other team to play three non-conference games to open the week, suffering two losses to Portland State and Delaware while winning by 15 on the road against LIU. Rytis Petraitis has still yet to appear for the Falcons, but wings Ethan Taylor and Beau Becker are off to potent starts, combining to average 35.7 points thus far (AFA is averaging only 64.7 PTS, for perspective). They have a rare three-home-games-in-four-days slate this week against Lindenwood, William & Mary and Nebraska-Omaha.