clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023-24 Mountain West Basketball: Ranking the top-5 non-conference wins so far

There have been over 100 non-conference games played so far. Which wins have been the best?

NCAA Basketball: Hall of Fame Classic - Colorado State at Creighton William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another crazy slate in the Mountain West! Wednesday evening featured another big-time upset between UNLV, who entered 3-4, and No. 8 Creighton.

UNLV upset the Blue Jays in the Jack Jones Classic in Henderson, Nev.—not technically a home game for the Runnin’ Rebels, but certainly close to it. That got me thinking: Among all the chaos through the first five weeks, which has been the best upset?

There’s been over 100 non-conference games with nearly 80 wins, so I did my best to narrow it down to five. I know I’ll leave some off that I probably shouldn’t, but without further ado, let’s hop into it!

5. New Mexico beats Louisiana Tech 74-65

Louisiana Tech’s only loss heading into this game was to Colorado State in their season openers. New Mexico downed the Bulldogs by nine without Jamal Mashburn Jr., even getting a down performance from Donovan Dent, who’s stepped up mightily amid New Mexico’s injuries this season. Jaelen House finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists while Jemarl Baker Jr., had 18 points on 6-of-9 from deep. The Lobos also got quality production from freshmen Tru Washington and JT Toppin. La Tech ranks No. 43 in the NET, so it qualified as a Quad 2 loss, but that shouldn’t take anything from a team that showcased its depth amid the injuries.

4. Nevada beats Washington 83-76

The Wolf Pack entered their first contest away from home as five-point ‘dogs and took care of business-handedly, fueled by Kenan Blackshear’s relentlessness in attacking the cup. Again, it qualified as a Quad 2 win for the Wolf Pack, though Washington—whose only home loss thus far has been to Nevada—has built up its resume with wins over Xavier and Gonzaga. So this is looking better by the day for Nevada, who’s No. 48 in the NET despite playing the third-weakest schedule in the MW.

3. Colorado State downs Colorado 88-83

The Rams were coming off a historically great win against Creighton (more on that later) and squeaked out an emotional five-point win over intrastate rival Colorado. Colorado State built up a double-digit lead in the first half, and every time Colorado attempted to conjure up a run of its own, the Rams responded. This win will get bonus points because of CU’s recent 27-point thrashing over Miami, who made the Final 4 in March, in Barclays Center over the weekend.

2. UNLV beats Creighton 79-64

I’ve been disappointed with UNLV’s start to the 2023-24 season. It entered Wednesday’s contest 3-4 with two wins against teams outside KenPom’s top-180 and a 14-point loss to Southern in its season opener, albeit without Kalib Boone. It was getting crushed from beyond the arc all season, but Wednesday signified regression to the mean, limiting a high-octane Creighton offense to 8-of-29 from deep. Boone fared well against the 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner, and Dedan Thomas showcased why he was dubbed the preseason MW FOTY.

1. Colorado State beats Creighton 69-48

I’ve already written about this victory, but this was CSU’s fifth top-10 win in program history, and the first top-10 win against a non-conference opponent since 1962-63. I don’t think we’ll see another non-conference victory like this the rest of the season, barring something unforeseen. This takes the cake.

I say this half-jokingly, but it’s safe to say that Creighton doesn’t want to see another Mountain West team for the rest of the millennium.