Welcome back! It’s Feast Week! Plenty of Mountain West teams have already played or are in the midst of playing their (feast week) non-conference tournaments, while others begin theirs later in the week or in December. Without further ado, here’s our second in-season power rankings of the 2023-24 college basketball season!
1. San Diego State
If you don’t know the name Jaedon LeDee ... you should. It’s still very early, but the 6-foot-9 forward has averaged 26.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals through five games. Despite his usage rate increasing over seven percentage points his per-possession field goal attempts increasing by over 27 percent, LeDee’s true-shooting percentage is north of 10 percent better than it was last year and over eight percent better than his career average. He’s been the biggest reason why they were able to blow past Saint Mary’s and squeak by Washington, currently playing like a top-5/10 player in the country.
No team outside of San Diego State has looked more dominant than the Wolf Pack—especially after this week. They earned a 47-point victory over Pacific followed by a 25-point win against Portland—reaching triple digits for the second time in the Steve Alford era. Kenan Blackshear is playing like a top-5 player in the conference despite the team’s rocky efficiency from deep to begin the season ... which is very crucial for the Wolf Pack’s ceiling.
3. Colorado State
Colorado State is the only other undefeated team in the conference and picked up two wins over Northern Colorado and UMKC. It’s been a fairly light non-conference schedule for the Rams thus far, but they will play Boston College followed by Creighton or Loyola Chicago in the Hall of Fame Classic this week and Washington on Dec. 2.
4. New Mexico
New Mexico’s only game this week was a narrow two-point home victory against UT Arlington. It was their second straight game without Jaelen House, and we know what UNM’s capable of when both House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. are healthy. Donovan Dent has stepped up in House’s absence, averaging 20.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.5 steals over the last two games.
5. Boise State
A 29-10 Clemson second-half surge propelled its 17-point win over the Broncos this week. Boise has gotten off to a slow start offensively and aren’t rebounding at a proficient enough level, which is very unusual for a Leon Rice-led squad. For perspective, they’ve ranked in the top 25 in defensive rebounding percentage in each of the last six seasons and 12 of the last 13 seasons ... they currently rank in the 34th percentile in said category. It’s difficult to win games against any team—let along against top-75 squads—when you can’t close possessions.
6. Utah State
Utah State opened the Cayman Islands Classic with an 83-60 win over Marshall and will face Akron Monday evening. It’s gotten off a 3-1 start, led by Great Osobar, who’s averaging 22.3 points and 8.7 rebounds on 68.2 percent shooting thus far. Montana State transfer Darius Brown has operated fairly well as a primary creator and has been responsible for a bulk of Utah State’s 3-point production. For a team who was brand new heading into 2023-24, this has been a very impressive start from Danny Sprinkle’s squad.
7. San Jose State
After squandering a 10-point second-half lead to Abilene Christian in their Paradise Jam opener, San Jose State responded with a 24-point win over Norfolk State Saturday. It finished a plus-42 from 3-point range with three players — Trey Anderson, Tibet Gorener and Myron Amey—all hitting at least three 3s. All things considered, it’s been a good start to the season on both ends for the Spartans, who will close the Paradise Jam with Hampton Monday before a stretch where they play three of their next four on the road.
The Pokes escaped Myrtle Beach with a narrow 78-71 victory over Furman. It finished fifth, going 2-1 with wins over Furman and Charleston and a loss to Saint Louis. Wyoming’s offense has occasionally been plagued by inopportune turnovers, but once Sam Griffin—who’s been a very capable primary shot creator for Wyoming—and Akuel Kot begin to jell with Caden Powell, Oleg Kojenets, Brendan Wenzel and Cam Manyawu, this squad will be incredibly feisty in the MW.
The Runnin’ Rebels picked up a 14-point win over Pepperdine with five double-figure scorers, led by Kalib Boone with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting. The Rebels will need to clean up their activity on the defensive glass against Florida State and Colorado/Richmond, their toughest tests to date, in the Sunshine Slam this week.
10. Air Force
Air Force swept the field in the Air Force Classic with three wins over Lindenwood, William & Mary and Omaha, which is why they move up in this week’s rankings. They will have three of their next five away from home, where they’re 1-1 this season. I’ve been quite impressed by Ethan Taylor and Beau Becker’s emergence without Rytis Petraitis, who has yet to suit up this season for the Falcons.
11. Fresno State
Fresno State had just one game last week—a 19-point win over Morgan State to open the Cancun Challenge, led by senior Donavan Yap, who scored 23 points on 10 shots in 24 minutes off the bench. They will conclude their final two games of the Cancun Challenge this week against New Mexico State and against James Madison/Southern Illinois, two big tests away from home.