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2023-24 Mountain West Basketball: Where does MWC stack up in the NET?

The first 2023-24 NET Rankings were released this week!

Washington v Colorado State Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As we progress through every college basketball season, what commonly-occurring question you’ll hear within those circles goes along the lines of: “Where does (TEAM X) rank in the NET? How many Quad 1/2/3/4 wins/losses do they have?”

If you’re familiar with or follow college basketball, you’re likely familiar with the NET Rankings—an evaluation tool used to rank teams based on wins and losses, location, margin of victory, strength of schedule, overall efficiency, etc. This season marks the sixth season of those rankings.

Their first rendition of the 2023-24 season was released this week, so let’s dive into it and see where the Mountain West is compared to the rest:

Where does the Mountain West rank?

Right now, the Mountain West ranks as the seventh-best conference (out of 33) in the NET, meaning the composite of MW teams has the seventh-lowest NET Ranking (lower is better) relative to the other 32 conferences.

The MW only trails the Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, Big East, Atlantic Coast and the Pac-12, respectively. Last year, when the conference placed four teams into the tournament, it finished as the sixth-best conference, the only difference being the ACC placed No. 7.

Here is a look at the 2023-24 NET standings (as of Dec. 6):

  1. Big 12 (61.6 avg NET)
  2. Big Ten (79.9)
  3. SEC (80.5)
  4. Big East (86.2)
  5. ACC (96.4)
  6. Pac-12 (102.8)
  7. MWC (107.4)
  8. Atlantic 10 (125.9)
  9. Missouri Valley (131)
  10. Ivy (153.3)

So ... is 7th good?

Relative to expectation, being the seventh-best conference is the country is right around the where the Mountain West should be. They’ve been a multi-bid league in all but three years and have completely surpassed preseason expectations each of the last two seasons

For perspective, since they started tracking ahead of the 2018-19 season, the Mountain West has finished No. 12, 10, 13, 8 and 6, respectively. Recent conference realignment could further put the conference in a better position to finish higher in the NET, though those outcomes will ultimately be predicated based on how each individual team performs relative to their non-MW counterparts.

Where does each MW School Rank:

As it stands right now, here’s where each school is (as of Dec. 6):

  1. Colorado State (7)
  2. Nevada Wolf Pack (25)
  3. San Diego State Aztecs (27)
  4. Utah State Aggies (34)
  5. New Mexico (36)
  6. Air Force (114)
  7. Boise State (131)
  8. San Jose State (140)
  9. Wyoming (191)
  10. UNLV (198)
  11. Fresno State (278)

For a mid-major conference, placing three teams within the top-40 is very impressive any way you slice the pie—especially with Colorado State’s monstrous leap in the top-10. Last season, for perspective, the MW had two teams in the top-40 (Utah State at No. 15; New Mexico — 27) with three other teams in the top-50 (Nevada — 43; UNLV — 44; SDSU — 45).

The MW finished 2022-23 with three teams inside the top-35 and four in the top-50. Here’s how many MW teams have finished within the top-40 each season:

  • 2018-19: 2 (both inside the top-30: Nevada — 23; USU — 29)
  • 2019-20: 2 (SDSU — 4; USU — 40)
  • 2020-21: 1 (SDSU — 26; USU finished at No. 47 and Boise at No. 53)
  • 2021-22: 3 (SDSU — 30; Boise — 34; CSU — 35)

Does that mean the MW is on a historic pace?

On the surface, perhaps. Though the MW currently has just two Quad 1 wins and 10 Quad 2 wins; it had four Quad 1 and 7 Quad 2 wins at this point last year and eight combined (one Q1, 8 Q2) in ‘21-22.

The MW is certainly setting itself up to have more Q1 and Q2 opportunities once conference play rolls around in January. But so will the other power conferences—especially in the Big 12, an already dominant conference that introduced BYU (1), Houston (2) and Cincinnati (20) into its conference.

The same goes for the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, ACC and Pac-12 once conference play arrives, which is why the MW taking care of the non-conference is so crucial. The more good teams you play and the better you perform in that context, the better you do in the NET, and thus the better your chances are at making an NCAA Tournament.

How well do you think the MW stands in the NET relative to the rest of Division-I? Let us know in the comments!